You will likely find the "basketless" mod (if it works), a interesting and inexpensive mod. The materials will be a recycled tin can, which is cheaper than building a basket. It will also allow you to have more charcoal in your mini-WSM. The blanket mod will cost some money up front, but will save on charcoal in the long run. However, with the 40 pounds of charcoal for $9.98 special at Lowes right now, it may take a while to recover the cost of that mod.
I can tell you that the charcoal basket is one of the best mods you can make, especially if you are using the SMJ silver. I smoked with just an ash deflector for about 4 months prior to building my first charcoal basket. The difference in temp control and fuel efficiency was night and day. The charcoal when basketed burns cleaner and leaves less ash.