Moves for Rob Dillingham, Terrence Shannon Jr. get high praise

With few options for improving their roster on the free agent market, the Timberwolves made a splash in the first round of the NBA Draft on Wednesday night, trading away a 2031 unprotected first round pick and a protected 2030 pick swap to the Spurs to acquire point guard Rob Dillingham.

Later they added Illinois guard and highly efficient scorer Terrence Shannon Jr. with the No. 27 pick overall. In what might be a change for Wolves fans used to national media befuddlement at draft day decisions — Tim Connelly’s moves elicited near universal praise. Here’s a sampling of the analysis.

Jonathan Givony rated the Wolves trade for Dillingham as one of the best moves of the night:

“The Timberwolves made the most aggressive move of Round 1 by trading into the No. 8 spot to draft Dillingham. With starter Mike Conley turning 37 years old, president of basketball operations Tim Connelly knew he needed to be aggressive in finding the veteran point guard’s successor. With Dillingham, Connelly has his own version of Kyrie Irving, who knocked the Timberwolves out of the playoffs in the Western Conference finals.

Dillingham is lightning in a bottle, ranking not only as one of the best scorers in this draft class already as a freshman, but also as an underrated passer who brings real creativity passing off a live dribble, a skill that he can continue to hone as his pro career moves forward. The fact he showed he can play off the ball, making 44% of his 3-pointers this season, will help him operate alongside a budding superstar in Anthony Edwards.

His biggest weakness, his defense, could be negated to an extent with NBA Defensive Player of the Year Rudy Gobert behind him.”

In the same story, reporter Kevin Pelton said the Wolves’ move was the best by a potential title contender heading into next season.

“We’ll see how well giving up a swap in 2030 and an unprotected pick in 2031 will work out for the Timberwolves, but unquestionably Rob Dillingham is the most talented player any title contender added on draft night, and I think he can help them off the bench as a rookie.

The Ringer

Kevin O’Connor was effusive in his praise for Connelly and the Wolves.

“After losing to the Dallas Mavericks, the Timberwolves knew they badly needed to add more shot creation before next season, and Dillingham is the best shot creator in the entire class. He’s a shifty presence and is capable of firing jumpers from anywhere. Anthony Edwards alone became a must-watch player during the playoffs. Pair him with Dillingham, and they could be absolutely electric. The Kentucky guard isn’t just a bucket getter. As a freshman, he began developing his playmaking, something that didn’t happen before, when he was with Overtime Elite or Donda Academy. And what’s Dillingham best at as a passer? Throwing lobs. That’s good news for Rudy Gobert.

“Oh, by the way: The Wolves also used the no. 27 pick on Terrence Shannon Jr., who averaged 23 points at Illinois this past season and is a relentless downhill attacker. Shannon will provide more creation off Minnesota’s bench, and with his toned 220-pound frame and 6-foot-9 wingspan, he’s displayed flashes of super-versatile defense. There’s a chance that both will immediately be plugged into the Wolves’ rotation.”

Yahoo Sports

Dillingham (B): Dillingham is one of the best guards with the ball in his hands and can get downhill and put pressure on the rim. There’s no doubt that he’ll be electric in Minnesota, but his size at 6-foot-2, 164 pounds, is concerning for a lead guard in the NBA.

Shannon Jr. (A): Shannon is a three-level scorer who has improved his 3-point shot over the course of his college career, finishing his senior season at Illinois shooting 36.2% from deep. He’s an older, experienced guard at 23 who can come in right away and contribute for Minnesota.”

Sports Illustrated

Dillingham (B): The Timberwolves surprised everyone in trading up to No. 8 to nab Dillingham, who might be the best offensive player in the draft. For the same reasons Dillingham would’ve worked with Wembanyama, he’ll likely see success in Minnesota. But it’s a slightly weird fit for a team wanting to win as early as next season.

Shannon (B+): Shannon Jr. was one of the oldest players in the draft, but offers the Wolves a go-to option in Year 1.

CBS Sports

Dillingham (B): This is a really high-risk, high-reward pick for Minnesota, which traded for the pick during the draft from the Spurs. Dillingham is a dynamic offensive talent but comes with questions, particularly about his size and defense. He was rated in the bottom 1% for most of the season as a defender — until he fell to the 0% by the end of it. The things he can do with a basketball cannot be taught, but he needs to get his body to an NBA level. But it’s worth noting that he makes a lot of sense as a secondary creator next to Anthony Edwards, one of the true rising stars of the league.

Shannon Jr. (B+): He was one of the best players in college basketball last year but will need to adapt to a big change in role after all his freedom. But the offensive burst he brings to the table is real, and he is an NBA player right now. The shot will need to hold up, but the talent is there and so is the polish.

Fox Sports:

Cumulative grade (A+): Tim Connelly is at it again, reeling in a pair of splash guards to help Anthony Edwards on the perimeter. To trade with San Antonio for the eighth pick and only give up a 2031 unprotected first-round pick and a top-1 protected 2030 pick swap is a nice move. Who knows what those picks will be worth in six years? The move puzzled me with the Spurs. Dillingham shot 44% from 3-point range and was a blur in transition with a variety of offensive skills in his lone year at Kentucky under John Calipari, averaging over 15 points per game. Shannon, who was found not guilty of rape last week and was brought into a really brutal situation that unfairly hurt his reputation, landed with Minnesota at the end of the first round, which was a steal because he was as good as any guard in college basketball this past year, averaging 23 points per game.

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