Ranking the 5 Worst Draft Picks in Minnesota Timberwolves History
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To be honest, it’s not really who the Minnesota Timberwolves drafted in determining their five all-time worst college selections, but rather what they did with those draft picks that really got them in trouble.
Yeah, Wesley Johnson and Jonny Flynn look like terrible picks now, but the reason that the Wolves were drafting so high in 2009 and 2010 was because of a plethora of past mistakes.
In 1996 they chose Ray Allen, only to trade him to the Milwaukee Bucks for Stephon Marbury. Allen and Kevin Garnett would end up teaming up to win a championship in Boston while Marbury’s most famous moment is probably recreating The Truman Show with his own his life on Justin.tv. He eventually found his groove in China, but it would have been nice if the Bucks had to deal with that problem and Minnesota still had Allen.
Something like that is easily forgiven if it happens once, but in 2006, the Wolves chose Brandon Roy and traded him to the Portland Trail Blazers for Randy Foye. Roy went on to make an immediate impact with the Trail Blazers, only to return to the Timberwolves with damaged knees. Foye is a decent NBA player, but had nowhere near the impact on the league that Roy had.
To top things off, Kevin McHale’s clandestine deal with Joe Smith cost the team first-round picks in 2001, 2002 and 2004, severely handicapping Minnesota’s ability to build a contending team.
That’s not to say that the Wolves haven’t had their fair share of drafting gaffes. In fact, the top five are quite hilarious.
Players who made this list were chosen based upon their performances in the NBA and who else was available at the time they were drafted.
The list does not include jokers like Michael Olowokandi, Michael Beasley or Darko Milicic, who were drafted too high by somebody else and ended up in a Wolves' uniform. It also does not include bad trades made at the NBA trade deadline.
5. Ndudi Ebi (No. 26, 2003)
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Before we got to Wesley Johnson, Jonny Flynn and Co. let’s stop to reflect on the 2003 NBA draft.
It is right up there with the 1984 draft, which brought Hakeem Olajuwon, Michael Jordan, Charles Barkley and John Stockton into the league and the 1996 draft, which included Allen Iverson, Kobe Bryant and Steve Nash.
As a part of the Smith penalty, this was the only year that Minnesota got a selection from 1999-2004. Granted, they were doing well enough at the time that they ended up selecting late in the first round, but with their lack of picks, they had to make this one count.
Of course, the Timberwolves chose a player with “dud” in his name.
Ebi’s NBA career only lasted until 2005. He spent 2005-06 in the D-League and is currently playing overseas.
It wouldn’t hurt so badly except that the Wolves could have had either Kendrick Perkins, Leandro Barbosa or Josh Howard with this pick.
At a time when first-round selections were at a premium, the Wolves ended up with a dud instead of an NBA-caliber player.
4. Donyell Marshall (No. 4, 1994)
Just in case you are curious, the Timberwolves used their first-ever selection on Pooh Richardson at No. 10 overall in the 1989 draft and then took Felton Spencer at No. 6 overall.
Neither player was a franchise-changer in the Twin Cities, but both went on to have long NBA careers, so it wasn’t quite like the Atlanta Thrashers choosing Patrik Stefan over the Sedin twins in 1999.
(If you get that reference, hats off to you. The fact that you probably don’t know what the Thrashers are or who Stefan is tells you all you need to know).
The Wolves then went on in 1991 to take Luc Longley, who won three straight championships with Michael Jordan and the Bulls from 1996-98.
Christian Laettner was chosen in the first round of the 1992 draft. He had minimal impact in Minneapolis, winning his only All-Star award in 1997 after he had joined the Atlanta Hawks.
He is best known for hitting a buzzer-beater at Duke to beat Kentucky, 104–103, in the 1992 NCAA East regional final, capping what was arguably the best NCAA basketball game every played.
In 1993m the Timberwolves chose the supremely talented Isaiah “J.R.” Rider who ended up becoming a journeyman. His highlights for the Wolves were a no-look shot and The East Bay Funk Dunk before departing.
It wasn’t until 1995 that the Wolves got Kevin Garnett, but in between Rider and Garnett came Donyell Marshall.
As would be a common theme in team history, Minnesota missed out on the best players with the No. 4 pick, seeing Glenn Robinson, Jason Kidd and Grant Hill selected one, two and three that year.
Marshall was a journeyman role player for 15 seasons in the league, so he wasn’t a total bust. He was traded to the Golden State Warriors for Tom Gugliotta, perhaps the most underappreciated player in Wolves' history, but still, Gugliotta was no Howard, Jones or Rose.
3. Rashad McCants (No. 14, 2005)
I really don’t know what to make of Rashad McCants.
He was chosen over Danny Granger, however, making that two players the Indiana Pacers drafted after Minnesota in the 2005 NBA draft that that Wolves would love to have on their team right now (we’ll get to the other in the next slide).
McCants is a supremely talented player who came from a stacked team at North Carolina that featured Sean May, Raymond Felton and David Noel. McCants was supposed to be a franchise player in Minneapolis.
Instead, he only lasted four seasons in the league and was dealt to the Sacramento Kings in 2009 for flotsam and jetsam.
In 2010, Chris Palmer of ESPN.com wrote an excellent feature on McCants, arguing that he was still talented enough to play in the league and wondering why no team would take a shot at him.
At the time, McCants still had a massive house in the suburbs and was “Thinking he was in Minny for life.”
Maybe if the Wolves have a rash of injuries again next season, he should get a ticket to a game, show up in breakaways and join the team at halftime. He’s only 28 and should be in the prime of his career. Maybe he just needed a little break.
It could work, right?
2. Wesley Johnson (No. 4, 2010)
Wesley Johnson gets the No. 2 spot on this list because he’s still in the NBA.
Yes, this is what it comes down to. If a Timberwolves' draft pick is still “in the NBA” it’s “good.” If were chosen ahead of Juwan Howard or have “dud” in their name, it was a bad pick.
Johnson spent one season playing for the Phoenix Suns, a team whose current rebuilding strategy is to grab washed-up Timberwolves players. As expected, it’s not working out too well.
Somehow, Johnson ended up on the Lakers. I think he’s taking the “Adam Morrison role.”
To be fair to the Wolves, they should have had the No. 2 pick and taken Evan Turner that year, but fell behind the eight-ball. This is a rather common occurrence, meaning that a) bad luck has contributed to some of their poor selections and, b) they are in the NBA lottery way too much.
Minnesota could have had Paul George at No. 4, of course, a player who helped the Pacers get to Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals last season…
1. Jonny Flynn (No. 6, 2009)
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In the interest of full disclosure: I own a Jonny Flynn jersey.
I actually liked him in college. Maybe it was the way he played the game; maybe I’m just an idiot. I kind of saw him as a placeholder until Ricky Rubio came to town at worst and a star at best.
It’s still perplexing why, with two picks in the top-10, David Kahn went for two players at the same position. It’s even more painful that the Golden State Warriors chose Stephen Curry with the next pick.
Minnesota messed this draft up so bad that Bill Simmons of ESPN.com took time out of his busy day to document the whole thing. When Simmons does a whole article on your team’s futility, you know you’ve messed things up.
As for the Flynn jersey? It goes down with choosing to buy a Wally Szczerbiak jersey over a Kevin Garnett one in my youth, purchasing a Plaxico Burress jersey before the sweatpants incident (I was probably intoxicated) and leasing an apartment in New Jersey from Zygi Wilf (OK, I made that one up) as one of my worst purchases ever.
I still have Flynn's jersey and one day will pass it on to my grandchildren saying, “This, boys and girls, is the worst draft pick in Minnesota Timberwolves' history.”
Tom Schreier covers Minnesota sports for Bleacher Report and is a contributor to Yahoo! Sports.