By: Seth Toupal
With the NBA Draft getting underway Thursday night, the Timberwolves will be trying to help fill various bench roles and shore up their depth. With plenty of options to choose from, it seems likely that the Wolves will get a really good player they can plug into their bench rotation. But looking back on past Wolves drafts, is it a certainty they will get a good player? Let’s take a look.
Franchise Cornerstones: The Timberwolves have been fortunate to have drafted not one, but hopefully two generational talents in the draft. The first was Kevin Garnett, who singlehandedly put the team on the map after he was selected 5TH overall in 1995. While Garnett never got to the Finals with the Wolves, he was vital in taking the franchise from expansion to annual playoff contender. The Wolves hope that Karl-Anthony Towns is the second such player that they have drafted. So far the Wolves made a great decision going with him over Jahlil Okafor 1ST overall in 2015.
One good trade deserves another: The Wolves have pulled off a few good draft night trades as well. Of course the most notable recently was the 2017 trade to acquire Jimmy Butler from the Bulls. The Wolves reached prominence in their first season with Butler, and they hope to reach even bigger heights going forward. The Wolves also swapped OJ Mayo with Memphis who sent Kevin Love back to Minnesota in 2008. Love is still playing today, OJ Mayo however is not.
The Great Point Guard draft of 2009: It’s not easy to have the distinction of being a team who took 4 point guards not named Steph Curry. The Wolves did this in 2009, when they held both the 5th and 6th picks and took Ricky Rubio and Jonny Flynn with Curry on the board. There were some questions as to if Curry’s small frame would translate to the NBA (whoops) so David Kahn opted for Ricky Rubio (a good pick) and then Johnny Flynn, Ty Lawson, and Wayne Ellington.
Coming up just short: There have been a few instances of being just short of landing incredibly talented players. In 1992 the Wolves picked 3RD and watched as 2 players named Shaq and Alonzo Mourning went before they selected Christian Laettner 3RD overall. We all know how that turned out. This also happened in 1994, when the Wolves watched as Glen Robinson, Jason Kidd and Grant Hill all came off the board before the Wolves selected Donyell Marshall.
Notable Picks by Draft Position (Total selections by position in parenthesis):
R1, P1 (1): Karl-Anthony Towns; 2015
R1, P2 (2): Derrick Williams; 2011
R1, P3 (2): Christian Laettner; 1992 OJ Mayo; 2008 (Traded to Memphis for Kevin Love)
R1, P4 (2): Donyell Marshall; 1994 Wesley Johnson; 2010
R1, P5 (5):
Isaiah Rider; 1993
Kevin Garnett; 1995
Ray Allen; 1996 (Traded to Milwaukee)
Ricky Rubio; 2009
Kris Dunn; 2016
R1, P6 (4):
Felton Spencer; 1990
Wally Szczerbiak; 1999
Brandon Roy; 2006 (Traded to Portland)
Jonny Flynn; 2009
R1, P7 (3):
Luc Longley; 1991
Corey Brewer; 2007
Lauri Markkanen; 2017 (Traded to Chicago)
R1, P8: The Wolves have never drafted 8TH overall.
R1, P9 (1): Trey Burke; 2013 (Traded to Utah)
R1, P10 (1): Pooh Richardson; 1989 (First pick in franchise history)
R1, P11: The Wolves have never drafted 11TH overall.
R1, P12: The Wolves have never drafted 12TH overall.
R1, P13 (1): Zach LaVine; 2014
R1, P14 (2): William Avery; 1999 Rashad McCants; 2005
R1, P15: The Wolves have never drafted 15TH overall.
R1, P16: Justin Patton; 2017
R1, P17 (1): Rasho Nesterovic; 1998
R1, P18 (1): Ty Lawson; 2009 (Traded to Denver)
R1, P19: The Wolves have never drafted 19TH overall.
R1, P20 (2): Gerald Glass; 1990 Paul Grant; 1997
R1, P21: The Wolves have never drafted 21ST overall.
R1, P22: The Wolves have never drafted 22ND overall.
R1, P23: The Wolves have never drafted 23RD overall.
R1, P24: The Wolves have never drafted 24TH overall.
R1, P25: The Wolves have never drafted 25TH overall.
R1, P26 (2): Ndudi Ebi; 2003 Andre Roberson; 2013 (Traded to Oklahoma City)
R1, P27: The Wolves have never drafted 27TH overall.
R1, P28 (1): Wayne Ellington; 2009
R1, P29: The Wolves have never drafted 29TH overall.
R1, P30 (1): Lazar Hayward; 2010
Notable 2ND Round picks:
Nikola Pekovic; 2008 pick 31
Mario Chalmers; 2008 pick 34 (traded to Miami)
Lorenzo Brown; 2013 pick 52
Cedi Osman; 2015 pick 31 (traded to Cleveland)
As we have seen, the Wolves draft history is pretty hit or miss. There have been some big hits but also some big misses. As for what happens with this draft, we will just have to wait and see. Who knows, they might not even make a pick (and hopefully in that case it is used to bring in much needed bench help).
Seth is host of The Scoop on KLGR Radio out of Redwood Falls, Minnesota. Listen to episodes of The Scoop her