The city of Cleveland won an NBA championship. Miracles do happen.
And if Cleveland can win one, Minnesota absolutely can.
But for the Wolves to become a championship-contending team in the future, they must continue their recent success in finding talent during the NBA Draft. Over the last three years, Flip Saunders was exceptional in this aspect, finding great values in Gorgui Dieng and Shabazz Muhammd (via trade for Trey Burke), Andrew Wiggins (via trade with, well, you know), Zach LaVine and Karl-Anthony Towns.
As the tandem of Tom Thibodeau and Scott Layden take over, that draft success is vital to continue building a championship team.
The members of the On The Prowl staff got together to discuss what Thibs' strategy should be and also predicted the outcome of the draft's lottery selections.
Where will you be watching tomorrow night?
Dan Slaubaugh: At my home in Bismarck, ND with some of my high school friends, probably eating some combination of donuts and flamin' hot cheetos. Weird combination I know. But I'm a weird guy.
Zach More: In a hotel room in Minneapolis.
Drew Mahowald: Last year I got to attend the Wolves Draft Party at Target Center and it was freakin' lit, especially when Flip traded back up for Tyus Jones. Tomorrow, I'll be stuck in Watertown, SD. If I had to guess, this year won't be as fun as last year.
Alex Berg: Undecided. Either Target Center or Canterbury Park.
As of right now, what do you want the Wolves to do with the 5th pick?
DS: Trade it. Of course, it has to be the right deal. But if Thibodeau can land a veteran who he thinks would fit well in his system, it would greatly help the Wolves in their quest to end the NBA's longest playoff drought.
ZM: Trade the pick for a proven starter/top caliber bench player - This would show they are willing to win now, and as a fan base we need that. It is also the smartest. A rookie isn't ready to contribute right away and even if you can there is no consistency usually. A trade for a starter or a scorer off the bench that you know what you will get in night in and night out.
DM: Dragan Bender has to be the pick if he's there. This guy has everything it takes to be a compatible four-man next to Karl-Anthony Towns. However, since he'll be a bit of a developmental project, the chances Thibodeau goes for him are slim. But hey, let me dream about having a guy named Dragan Bender on my favorite team while I can.
AB: Trade the pick (if the right offer is there). I think this is the best way to fast forward into the "win now" mode Taylor, Thibs and others want; while maintaining the core already in place. If possible, I would think long and hard about moving the pick for guys like Derrick Favors, Eric Bledsoe, Jahlil Okafor or D'Angelo Russell.
DS: Buddy Hield. He's just the shooter the Wolves need. Jamal Murray would be fine, but he's still 19 years old and I'm not the fondest of adding a teenager to the already youthful squad. Hield, however, is already 22 and has played four seasons of big-time, competitive college ball. Glen Taylor hired Thibodeau to win now and for the foreseeable future. If the Wolves select Hield at No. 5, they will be getting the closest thing to a finished product and NBA-ready contributor that college basketball offers these days.
ZM: Dragan Bender. Wolves will need frontcourt depth after KAT and Dieng and it's tough to find a big guy with the skillset Bender has. He would fit well with what Minnesota has and would be a scary frontline for years to come.
DM: Trade the pick. After Simmons, Ingram, and Bender, none of the prospects wow me that much to warrant a fifth overall selection. Given the remarks made by Scott Layden during Tuesday's media session, it appears that many teams covet the No. 5 pick (of course, he could be just saying that). If I'm Minnesota, I try to grab a reliable veteran role player that can fill in as a stretch four or as a backup point guard.
AB: Buddy Hield. He would instantly give the Wolves an outside scoring threat that the bench desperately needs. Unlike many others, I see his age as a plus, rather than a negative.
DS: Dragan Bender. Even though I just said Thibodeau was hired to win now, Bender is a player that's worth the wait. At 7 feet tall, he'll be able to guard perimeter guys and will eventually be able to bang with the bigs inside. His skillset makes for a great fit for what the Wolves already have and pairing him with Towns could make for an exceptional frontcourt in a few years.
ZM: Jamal Murray. It's a guard-driven league and if Thibs feels he wants another one, Murray offers the most flexibility among guard in the class. He'll be able to play both guard spots and can be a good scorer from both. If Thibs can get his defensive level up he could be a terrific all-around player in Minnesota.
DM: Buddy Hield. The Wolves need perimeter shooting, and they need it badly. HIeld clearly has that trait in his game and for that reason alone he can be a big help to Minnesota sooner rather than later. Worst-case scenario, if the other parts of his game don't pan out, there's always a spot on every team for a shooter of his caliber.
AB: Jamal Murray. He might have the highest ceiling in the draft. He's an exceptional shooter and a natural point guard, offering insurance in the event that Tyus doesn't take a step forward. Additionally, I'm giving anyone from Kentucky a slight advantage given the success of Kentucky products in the NBA.
Prediction of the Wolves pick
DS: Jamal Murray
ZM: Jamal Murray
DM: Buddy Hield
AB: Jamal Murray
DS: Lakers trade D'Angelo Russell to Phoenix for the 4th overall pick.
ZM: Sixers trade with Boston to acquire the 3rd overall pick.
DM: Lakers get rid of D'Angelo Russell and his iPhone while trading up to acquire Kris Dunn.
AB: There will be two trades involving top-5 picks.
(from left: Dan Slaubaugh, Zach More, Drew Mahowald, Alex Berg)
**Notes regarding draft table**
DS: Lakers select Kris Dunn at #4 after trading D'Angelo Russell to Phoenix.
DM: Lakers select Kris Dunn at #6 after trading D'Angelo Russell to New Orleans
AB: 76ers select Kris Dunn at #3 after trading Nerlens Noel to Boston.
Lakers select Buddy Hield at #5 after trading D'Angelo Russell to Minnesota.
Pelicans select Marquesse Chriss at #8 after trading the 6th, 39th, and 40th overall picks to Sacramento for #8
and Darren Collison.
Thanks for reading, basketball fans. Enjoy the draft and be sure to follow On The Prowl on Twitter (@OnTheProwl_MN) for extensive coverage on all news and analysis surrounding Thursday night's NBA Draft.