Timberwolves draft Wesley Johnson with 13th overall pick
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) -- The Minnesota Timberwolves addressed their biggest need immediately in the NBA draft on Thursday night, selecting Syracuse forward Wesley Johnson with their first pick and fourth overall.
The 6-foot-7 Johnson averaged 16.5 points and 8.5 rebounds and was a first-team All-American in his only season with the Orange. He transferred there after two seasons at Iowa State and sat out 2008-09 while Timberwolves point guard Jonny Flynn was starring for Syracuse.
With their second pick, the 16th overall selection, the Wolves chose Nevada shooter Luke Babbitt with the 16th overall pick and immediately shipped him to Portland for Martell Webster.
A person with knowledge of the trade told The Associated Press the deal was in place Thursday night. The person requested anonymity because the trade had not been officially announced.
Webster averaged 9.4 points and 3.3 rebounds for the Blazers last year and immediately upgrades the athleticism for Minnesota.
Minnesota's third selection, the 23rd overall pick, was senior forward Trevor Booker of Clemson.
Timberwolves president David Kahn said they "desperately need wings" heading into the draft and were in search of a versatile, athletic player who could spread the floor with his perimeter shooting.
Johnson, who will turn 23 in July, would seem to fit that mold. He averaged 1.8 blocks and 1.7 steals and shot 41.5 percent from 3-point range last season.
"Wesley is both an incredibly talented player and an outstanding young man," Kahn said in a statement provided by the team. "He'll bring some much-needed length, athleticism and shooting ability to our roster and will be an important piece to the puzzle as we continue to build a nucleus of young talent."
The Timberwolves entered this draft determined to make a big impact on a team that is sorely lacking difference-making players. The team won just 15 games last year, second-fewest in the league, but again couldn't find any luck in the lottery and dropped down to No. 4 in the draft.
Ohio State's Evan Turner would have been the perfect fit the Wolves, who are aching for the dominant wing player to fit into coach Kurt Rambis's version of the triangle offense Phil Jackson perfected with the Bulls and Lakers.
Turner went to Philadelphia at No. 2 and Georgia Tech forward Derrick Favors went to New Jersey at No. 3.
With the first overall pick in the draft Washington selected Kentucky guard John Wall.