The Free Press, Mankato, MN

June 28, 2013

Wolves haven't been lucky, or good, in many drafts

The Mankato Free Press

---- — Some of the Minnesota Timberwolves’ draft selections have been historically comical: Ndudi Ebi in 2003.

Others seemed odd at the time: Johnny Flynn in 2009.

Some have been pretty good but were immediately traded: Ray Allen (1996), Brandon Roy (2006), Mario Chalmers (2008), Ty Lawson (2009).

And others appeared to be solid choices, though clearly something went awry in the evaulation process: Wesley Johnson in 2010.

Very rarely, have the Timberwolves’ choice worked out glowingly. The draft futility has been testament to poor decision-making, almost throughout the franchise’s history.

Yet the Timberwolves still appear to be an up-and-coming team, one that, with a little injury luck, should be able to move out of the draft lottery and into the playoffs. Thursday’s draft could be another step, though we’ve rightly grown to be a little leery of this team’s selection acumen.

Trey Burke was the best point guard in college basketball last year, by a longshot, but he is another guy drafted for another team, which actually increases his success. Draft choices that move do better than those who stay.

Shabazz Muhammed? Classic boom or bust guy. Guess what normally happens to the Wolves?

New GM Flip Saunders was part of the decision-making process when he coached here from 1995-2005, and under GM Kevin McHale’s leadership, the Timberwolves added only two players of note though the draft: Kevin Garnett and Wally Szczerbiak. The Allen trade brought in Stephon Marbury, who should have worked out better than he did.

David Kahn’s 4-year run in charge of the draft didn’t pan out any better, despite picking higher in most years. Ricky Rubio (2009) has made most people forget that Flynn was taken with the adjacent pick, and it’s still too early to pass final judgement on Derrick Williams, although expectations for the No. 2 pick are higher than what Williams has produced.

Do you have confidence that Saunders, now with the final say on draft picks, will get it right?

Trading away the first pick of your regime is a tricky way to begin a new career. We’ll see how that works out.

Perhaps, this is a new era in draft luck and knowledge for this organization, which has lacked both in most selections. The team had four picks in this draft and need two to become important pieces on this team. That seems unlikely, given that the Timberwolves have only selected four usable players in the last 25 selections.

Two of the choices come near the end of the second round, which shouldn’t excite Wolves fans. Only twice in the team’s history have the Wolves found a usable player in Round 2: Nikola Pekovic (2008) and Doug West (1989).

Soonoer or later, draft choices will work out for the Timberwolves. Whether it’s this year’s crew, who knows?

History says that once the Wolves get ahold of these players, their chance of success diminishes.

Chad Courrier is a Free Press staff writer. To contact him, call 507-344-6353, e-mail at or follow his Twitter feed @ChadCourrier.