By: Dan Slaubaugh
The Minnesota Timberwolves now know their drafting position in the upcoming NBA Draft.
The lottery balls did not fall in the Wolves favor tonight, as the team slipped into into the draft's number seven selection. This is the ninth time the Wolves have dropped in the lottery in 19 years (ouch) and the third time the team will pick seventh in the draft, with the last pick being Corey Brewer in 2007.
Minnesota had a 43.9 percent chance at landing the sixth pick and 30.5 percent chance at landing the seventh pick before the lottery balls were drawn. With Andrew Wiggins in attendance and Wolves front office members Tom Thibodeau and Scott Layden surely watching, the Wolves now have an idea what kind of players they could realistically land (or trade for!) with their lottery pick.
The Wolves still have over a month to prepare for the draft, which is scheduled for June 22 at 7:00 PM ET on ESPN. This gives them time to delve deeper into the picks and get to know which players could fit their team.
With the odds decided and the pick locked, it's now time for the Wolves to prepare themselves to make the best decision for the franchise's future.
That being said, there are two avenues (h/t: Zach More) Tom Thibodeau and the Wolves could take with their pick.
Option 1) It's time to win games and make the playoffs now. If this is the case, Thibs tries to trade the pick + player for an all-star and go big in free agency. Theory being they don't need any more 19 year olds on an already fairly young roster.
Option 2) Draft a player who they think will be the best fit in two or three years and hope their players develop. Spend smart in free agency and hope to sneak into the playoffs. Theory behind this is no one is competing with the Warriors or Cavs in the near future, so let's make this team a championship contender four years from now instead of going all in when the team's core players are all under 23 years old.
Personally, I understand both theories and I am sure the front office will have people on both sides of this debate.
I think we can all agree no matter what they choose to do the team needs to post a winning record and make the playoffs next year. Establishing a winning culture and feeling what it's like to win is of vital importance to this team's future - and it needs to start next season. That starts with Tom Thibodeau as President of Basketball Operations this offseason. It's up to him to complement these young studs (who still need work defensively) with steady rotational players. That doesn't necessarily mean going all in on next season, but rather setting this team up for greater success in a year that's officially going to be labeled "playoffs or bust".