With the NBA selection show two weeks from tonight (May 18) Wolves fans no doubt have to be getting anxious and somewhat excited.
19.9% (1) 18.8% (2) 17.1 (3) 31.9% (4) and 12.3% (5)
With the Wolves currently holding down the second worst overall record based on regular-season standings, the preceeding is the Wolves chances of landing each of the top five picks in the lottery.
Note the high probability the Wolves could crash all the way to the fourth spot like the Sacramento Kings did last season. 31.9%, in a system so flawed as this, it doesn't surprise me that the NBA would be this stupid to hurt a team like the Wolves that needs any bit of good news like getting a top two pick in what many believe to be a pick-em two man draft this year.
It actually seems better for the third place team, right now the Kings. They would have only a 22.6% chance at landing this pick and similar 15.6% (3), 15.7% (2) and 15.6% (1) chance at getting the following picks. The only downside to three is the 26.5% chance they have at the fifth pick and a lesser shot overall at winning the whole lottery.
With that said, don't be surprised if they move up and the Wolves move down as I outlined in a previous article fully prepared for the Timberwolves, Ready To Get Screwed on the NBA Lottery Again? You're Not Alone" target="_blank">Wolves to get screwed over again this year by a system that has never done them any favors.
But it isn't all bad as I'm trying to give Wolves fans like me a reason for optimism and this centers around the premise of this article.
Finding a Solution beyond Wall or Turner
Unless the GM's of the two teams that pick first are absolute morons some combination of Wall and Turner will go first and second. It could get intresting however if a team like the Los Angeles Clippers or Utah Jazz (Knicks pick) were to mess things up by defying the odds and winning the lottery-wierder things have happened.
So with that in mind, lets assume for now they don't and these two are off the board and the Wolves have fallen to third (like I expect-and wrote about- based on the Wolves lack of luck historically). While I personally would be devestated, I am trying to find a combination of Derrick Favors or DeMarcus Cousins at three and hope for Kansas' Xavier Henry at 16 which would leave me, as a fan, pretty happy considering the circumstances.
The first thing is the Wolves would have to go big here at three since they went small last year with Rubio, Flynn, Lawson, and a tweener guard in Ellington. Last year was the guard draft, could this year be the forward/center draft that has the NBA experts once again thinking new Wolves GM David Kahn has lost his mind and doesn't know how to draft?
What if, as currently weighted, the Wolves were to crash to four? Take either Cousins or Favors, whomever is left, and hope for the best.
In like Flynn? Analyzing the GM's move a year later:
Speaking of Kahn, for all his criticism that I've read from Wolves fans on other boards and sites not including this one (ESPN Wolves board) actually did quite well when Flynn surprisingly, received some (two third) votes for Rookie of the Year.
When you consider the agony many Wolves fans felt watching Stephen Curry and Brandon Jennings, two point guards the Wolves passed over battle it out for the award only to both lose to a guy, Tyreke Evans, that was already off the board before they picked-has to make them look and feel better.
Additionally, in a more impessive accomplishment, Flynn was also named to the All-Rookie-second team . While it may appear to some skeptics that I am meerly grasping at straws, when you consider only ten rookies can make either first or second team and many of those picks can either come with more acclaim where this award is to be expected or where a team can have multiple draft picks on either team it really is an accomplishment at the end of the day.
When you consider that team mate Kevin Love was named to the (second) team in 2008, or that many Wolves fans had low expectations of Flynn and his non-deserving of such a high pick (six) have the recent Wolves picks really been that bad?
I said it before and I said it again, as bad as the Rubio and Flynn picks are looking now, it could have been even worse. What if they got the one I feared after Thabeet, DeMar DeRozen and all of his 8.6 ppg and 2.9rpg?
You don't like the Rubio-Flynn combination coming off of 15 wins, but what if we didn't even have that much to show for it?
Or Earl Clark (14) 2.7 ppg, 1.2rpg, Terrance Williams (11) 8.4ppg 4.5 rpg, 2.9apg or Jordan Hill (8) whose already been traded-5.2ppg 3.7 rpg.
Any combination of them could have been Wolves instead of Flynn and it would have been even worse.
With his 13.5 ppg he finished with a higher ppg than Kevin Garnett who averaged 10.4 ppg at the end of his rookie campaign.
Finally, Flynn finished with both a season best 41.7 3PT% in April and tied his best month at 14.0 ppg in route to 35.8% from beyond the arc for the season to go with stellar, but improvable free throw stats (82.4%) leaving more reason for optimism heading into next season.
It is because of this potential that I hope Flynn isn't traded-at least if and until Rubio ever gets here but that is also contingent on the Wolves not winning the John Wall lottery and taking him which in addition to Rubio would eventually push the former out the door.
What to and three, 16, and 23
Back to the premise of this article, usually when any team has multiple first round picks they tend to go in some kind of following combination and this also depends on how good they are and whether they can afford it.
1st pick-immediate impact player/likely a starter
2nd pick-gamble pick-foreign product (in the past) high school kid
3rd pick-usually traded down to aquire more assets like a future first rounder in a stronger draft (what the Wolves did with Lawson last year, a good move by Kahn) or more scoring help or whatever holes the team needs to fill.
In the Wolves case, they are so bad that they cannot afford to "go foreign" with their second first round pick, courtesy of Charlotte, the 16 pick (Donatas Motiejunas) or something along those lines.
Given the Wolves history of foreign picks -Rasho Nestrovic (1997-1st) Igor Rakocevic (2000-2nd), Loukas Mavrokefalidis (2006-2nd), Nikola Pekovic (2008-2nd) and Hank Norel (2009-2nd) its safe to say when Nestrovic is your best pick you cannot draft and evaluate foreign "talent" very well at all. In fact, when it comes to the Wolves not only is this an obvious bust-in-waiting, but essentially, its a throw-away pick.
The Wolves have never had any success in the second round outside of Indiana's Craig Smith, whose hardly foreign, and how many years did that finally take for a second round pick to succeed?
Why are we talking about second round picks when we should be talking about the Wolves second first round pick, you ask? Because I believe by the Wolves going foreign with this pick that is essentially what they are doing-throwing it away on a player that either will never come to America or worse, be a busted pick which a 15 win team cannot afford.
So lets say, the Wolves get either Favors (ugh) or Cousins (meh) with the third pick.
The one thing this does besides at least getting the Wolves a legit rookie of the year candidate (Read: much needed media/fan forum buzz) is it likely facilitates a trade of either Love or Al Jefferson which could bring back some much needed talent/pieces in return).
With "Trader Dave" at least Wolves fans can continue to be on the edge of their seats the whole night not sure when or for whom Kahn may pull the trigger-another thing I admire about the guy.
With that 2nd first round pick, the Wolves would be wise to take Kansas' Xavier Henry whose currently projected at 13 with the Toronto Raptors according to NBA Draft.net or 15th to the Milwaukee Bucks according to DraftExpress.com.
With that final third first round pick, surely the Wolves could come up with some combination of that or 2nd rounders (which never work anyway remember) to move up and select the next best thing to Turner when it comes to both shooting and a need (shooting guard/impact starter) in Henry.
Henry not only comes from a proven school-Kansas-like Turner does at Ohio State, but in doing so played against legit talent. This is not the second coming of Rafael Araujo who was a bust at 8 out of BYU for the Raptors in 2004.
Additionally, remember since he was once considered a top five talent himself, the Wolves getting him (somewhere) around here would have to be considerd a steal and worth the risk. Should he be a bust, it would be easier to swallow since he would not be the team's top pick, which again has to be a hit since history will focus on that.
A lineup of:
Favors OR Cousins/Gomes
Jefferson OR Love (whomever is not traded, but Kahn has indicated one will)
suddenly doesn't look that bad.
The Wolves would have marketable pieces in Cousins or Favors and Henry of which to revive and excite a dying and increasingly angry fan base. They would have two rookie of the year candidates (buzz).
They'd have taken known players from legit, big schools that if they fail won't be because they Wolves "messed up" (took the wrong guy like last year) or didn't try but because their coaching staff couldn't get the most out of them and the talent they had.
If the Wolves get Henry around 16 only an idiot is going to call that a reach which is exactly what you want when you are rebuilding. In fact, many like Chad Ford and Jay Bilas would actually probably praise the Wolves for their insight and along with filling a desperate need that all 15 win teams have. The Wolves would have got what those in the industry call a "value pick" that would he hard to argue.
With that final first round pick, the Wolves could do four things: move up, move down, go foreign which would be a mistake, or trade it away for a first round pick in a future draft, like next year if this is what they believe to be a stronger draft, and what they did with Ty Lawson to Denver last year.
Whatever they do they simply have to make it work and simply cannot miss. Twenty years of bad "luck" in the lottery is one thing. Twenty years of missed picks and a comedy of errors is another. The Wolves base is at a point of simply not caring from what I've read and from what I've heard.
This draft is going to go a long way in both restoring any faith in the Wolves front office and also defyning the Kahn legacy as many decide whether or not to give up on him. I remain in the minority still overjoyed that someone, anyone- other than Kevin McHale is doing the picking and finally running the team. I'm willing to give the man the three years his contract calls for but many aren't that patient.
At least we can agree on one thing, Kahn doesn't give away first rouders like McHale did. That alone is a plus.
Still, with three first round picks, an NBA rarity, the Wolves once again, have the unique opportunity in consecutive years, to control the draft from its very storylines to its headlines, to its overall mood, look and feel. If only all NBA teams were that lucky, especially ones desperate for the buzz and national media attention it brings.
The Wolves have the ammo, now they need to make it stick. Whether its one or 23 and all picks in between, they simply cannot miss and have to make it work.
Statistics and information courtesy, ESPN.com, NBA Draft.net, DraftExpress.com, Minneapolis Star Tribune and Jerry Zgoda, and Wikipedia which directly contributed to this article.