NBA Power Rankings: The 25 Greatest Minnesota Timberwolves of All-Time

Joseph FafinskiCorrespondent IMay 24, 2011

NBA Power Rankings: The 25 Greatest Minnesota Timberwolves of All-Time

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    In the 22 seasons of existence, the Minnesota Timberwolves haven't exactly been the most prolific franchise of all-time.

    In fact, they have only made the playoffs in eight of those years, and they were all consecutive appearances, beginning in the 1996-97 season.

    However, they have had some great players during their history, whether they be guys who hit their career peak here or duds who didn't fulfill expectations but were still good enough to make it.

    Using information I have gathered in some of my previous articles coupled with new research, I present to you the top 25 Minnesota Timberwolves of all-time.

    Thanks for reading, and I hope this brings forth uncanny moments of nostalgia like it did for me.

Honorable Mention: Malik Sealy

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    Years as a Timberwolf: 1998-2000

    Key Achievements: No. 2 jersey retired

     

    Malik Sealy had two decent seasons with the Timberwolves before a drunk driver took his life away on May 20, 2000.

    He was driving home from best friend Kevin Garnett's birthday party when his SUV was struck by the idiot driving on the wrong side of the highway in Saint Louis Park, ultimately leading to his death.

    Had that 43-year-old not been intoxicated, Sealy would undoubtedly have made his way up this list, but more importantly, he would have possessed the gift of life for a longer period.

    His No. 2 jersey now rests in the rafters, a representation of what could have been.

    Rest in peace, Malik Sealy.

25. Rasho Nesterovic

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    Years as a Timberwolf: 1998-2003

    Key Achievements: None

     

    Doesn't it hurt just to put Rasho on this list?

    I mean, the guy only averaged double figures once during his five-year tenure with the Timberwolves.

    He was a solid shot blocker, a player who consistently swatted more than one per game.

    It was between him and Corey Brewer, and fate gave me Rasho.

24. Chuck Person

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    Years as a Timberwolf: 1992-94

    Key Achievements: None

     

    Sure, Chuck Person played only 155 games with the Timberwolves, but he most definitely made the best of that time.

    In his first season with the team, the 6'8" small forward averaged 16 points per game and was known as a dangerous shooter.

23. Terry Porter

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    Years as a Timberwolf: 1995-98

    Key Achievements: None

     

    Terry Porter was, as my dad put it, the man during his career.

    After a successful decade as a Trail Blazer, Porter took his talents to 'Snowta, and although he only averaged just under nine points per game, he is still considered one of the better point guards in Wolves history (just wait; there's still six left).

    Even though he only started 70 games with the team, he is still definitely one of the best.

22. Trenton Hassell

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    Years as a Timberwolf: 2003-07

    Key Achievements: One-time All-Defense

     

    Trenton Hassell was a guy who was much more known for his defensive prowess than anything else (okay, maybe his high socks too).

    As a Timberwolf, he guarded in-their-prime guys like Kobe Bryant, Tracy McGrady and Vince Carter. He was usually effective in doing so.

    His stats didn't matter, because he primed his game on that defensive intensity, and it was for that reason that fans loved him.

21. Randy Foye

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    Years as a Timberwolf: 2006-09

    Key Achievements: 2006-07 All-Rookie First Team

     

    Randy Foye, the Villanova legend, began his career in Minnesota and averaged double figures in all three campaigns for the Wolves.

    His best season was his last with the team in 2008-'09, when he put career highs in points and assists with 16.3 and 4.3, respectively, per game.

    All in all he averaged 13.2 points and 3.6 assists in 191 games for the T'Wolves.

    Foye has since moved to greener pastures in Los Angeles to play for the Clippers. He has reunited this season with two-year Minnesota teammate Ryan Gomes.

20. Ryan Gomes

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    Years as a Timberwolf: 2007-2010

    Key Achievements: None

     

    Ryan Gomes was the secondary scorer during the darkest era of Timberwolves' basketball.

    Acquired in the Kevin Garnett trade, he played in 240 games in his three seasons and averaged better than 12 points and five rebounds during his Minnesota tenure.

    All in all, he had a nice trio of years for the Wolves but the team certainly didn't.

19. Joe Smith

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    Years as a Timberwolf: 1998-2000, 2001-03

    Key Achievements: None

     

    Of the NBA-record 12 franchises that Joe Smith has played for during his decade-and-a-half long career, he spent the most time with the Minnesota Timberwolves.

    His first season with the team (1998-99) was his best, as he averaged better than 13 points and eight rebounds in 33 minutes per game.

    However, he is most known in the Timberwolf community as the guy who was involved in a salary cap tampering scandal. General manager Kevin McHale signed him for less than he was worth, only to promise him a future multi-million dollar deal. The NBA took away three future first-round picks from the Wolves as a punishment.

18. Troy Hudson

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    Years as a Timberwolf: 2002-07

    Key Achievements: None

     

    Troy Hudson, or "T-Hud" as he was known, enjoyed five seasons on the Timberwolves, and was a large part of the offense due to his excellent three-point and free throw shooting, as well as his quick passing.

    Hudson's best season was in his first with the club, when he started 74 games and averaged a career best 14.2 points and 5.7 assists per game. He earned the nickname "Laker Killer" for his postseason play against Los Angeles' finest.

    He was replaced by Sam Cassell the following year but still was an asset to the offense afterward.

    He now is a rapper who goes by T-Hud and has released one album.

17. Anthony Peeler

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    Years as a Timberwolf: 1998-2003

    Key Achievements: None

     

    A notorious sharpshooter out of the University of Missouri, Anthony Peeler holds numerous three-point records for the Wolves, including makes and attempts.

    The 6'4" shooting guard drilled 465 out of 1,126 attempts for a .379 percentage, good for fifth in Minnesota history.

    Both his makes and attempts from beyond the arc are Timberwolves records.

    Peeler went on to play two more seasons in the NBA before retiring.

16. Micheal Williams

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    Years as a Timberwolf: 1992-99

    Key Achievements: 0/1-time All-Defensive

     

    For a short time as a Timberwolf, Micheal Williams was a headline grabber, sinking 97 free throws in a row, an NBA record that still stands today. In fact, Williams shot nearly 90 percent from the charity stripe while in Minnesota.

    He was also a solid defender and earned All-Defense second team honors his first season in the great north.

    Sadly, he played just 35 games in his final four seasons as a Wolf.

15. Latrell Sprewell

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    Years as a Timberwolf: 2003-05

    Key Achievements: None

     

    Latrell Sprewell was the unofficial tertiary member of the "Three-Headed Monster" that dominated the NBA for a season.

    Sprewell was also the biggest jerk in NBA history, and he added to that legacy during his time in Minnesota. Prior to the 2004-05 season, the Timberwolves offered Spree a three-year, $21 million extension, to which he replied: "I have a family to feed. If Glen Taylor wants to see my family fed, he better cough up some money."

    What a classy guy.

    Regarding his play, Sprewell was a great defender during his time in Minnesota and was a solid scorer as well. He averaged just under 15 points per game, a pretty good number considering how well Sam Cassell and KG played during that same time frame.

14. Terrell Brandon

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    Years as a Timberwolf: 1999-2002

    Key Achievements: None

     

    In his three-plus seasons with the Timberwolves, Terrell Brandon was known as one of the better point guards in the NBA. He is also widely considered the best point guard to ever play for the Wolves.

    He is third all-time in assists and second in assists per game. He was also an excellent free-throw shooter and had the best percentage in Wolves history with an .895 frame.

    He was a two-time All-Star during his days in Cleveland, but never got elected while in Minnesota, which brought on concern and controversy by some fans.

    He now owns a barbershop in Portland.

12. Isaiah Rider

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    Years as a Timberwolf: 1993-96

    Key Achievements: 1994 Slam Dunk Contest champion

     

    A terrific scorer and the fifth overall pick of the 1995 NBA Draft, Isaiah Rider played the first three years of his interesting career in the confines of the Target Center with the Timberwolves.

    He shot the ball well from all over and could dunk like no other, winning the Slam Dunk Contest in 1994 as a 22-year old rookie.

    In his third year, he set the Minnesota single game rebounds record for a guard with 15 boards.

    He averaged better than 15 points per game in two separate campaigns.

    In 1996, his final year with the team, it got bad legally. Rider was convicted of fifth-degree assault for kicking a woman in a sports bar, then tossed on a marijuana possession charge that summer.

    The Timberwolves promptly traded him, and he would never be the same.


12. Pooh Richardson

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    Years as a Timberwolf: 1989-1992

    Key Achievements: 1989-1990 All-Rookie First Team

     

    I'll bet you didn't expect to see this guy so high up on the list.

    The first ever draft choice of the Minnesota Timberwolves, Jerome "Pooh" Richardson was a solid point guard during his three seasons with the team.

    Pooh didn't miss a game during his time in the Gopher State, and he put up some great numbers. His best year was his second, when he averaged 17.1 points, nine assists, 1.6 steals and 3.5 rebounds.

    He was a great defender, a guy who would swipe the ball by any means.

    As far as underrated Wolves go, Richardson is one of the best.

11. Stephon Marbury

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    Years as a Timberwolf: 1996-99

    Key Achievements: 1996-97 All-Rookie First Team

     

    Stephon Marbury is one of the best point guards in Timberwolves history, but had he remained apart of the roster for a longer time frame, he would undoubtedly be one of the team's all-time "greats".

    During his time here, he averaged 17 points and better than eight assists per game.

    He ultimately found his exit by way of feuding with management about his role in the offense. Apparently playing 38 minutes per game isn't enough. He was shipped in a three-way trade that saw Terrell Brandon come to Minnesota, so it wasn't necessarily a bad thing for the Wolves.

    Regardless, it was in Minnesota that he started his 13-season career, and he had two great seasons before a controversy-filled one.

10. Christian Laettner

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    Years as a Timberwolf: 1992-96

    Key Achievements: 1993 All-Rookie First Team

     

    Christian Laettner was one of the most overhyped players in NBA history.

    The third overall pick of the 1992 NBA Draft (behind Shaquille O'Neal and Alonzo Mourning), Laettner had incredible pressure to perform well, and although he didn't fail entirely, we can't classify his three-plus years in Minnesota as "great."

    However, he did average 18.2 points and 8.7 rebounds his rookie year, only to never duplicate those stats again in his career.

    He was a solid post player who, deservedly so, is rewarded a spot in the top 10.

9. Doug West

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    Years as a Timberwolf: 1989-1998

    Key Achievements: None

     

    Doug West, another Villanova product, was probably the best player for the Wolves in the early 90's.

    He was a great defender who is still third in team history in steals. His best seasons came in 1991-92 when he averaged 14 points per contest, and the following year when he put up more than 19 a game.

    Anyone who shoots nearly 48 percent over a nine year period is considered an excellent shooter, and West is no exception.

    He later admitted to suffering from depression and alcoholism while playing in Minnesota.

    Regardless, he is one of the top 10 to ever play for the Wolves, in my humble opinion. If nothing else, he was loyal to the team and went through some of its darker times.

8. Tony Campbell

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    Years as a Timberwolf: 1989-1992

    Key Achievements: None

     

    At age 29, Tony Campbell was selected in the expansion draft that led to the of Minnesota Timberwolves' inaugural season. The first great Wolf, Campbell led the team in scoring in the first three years of the franchise's history.

    In his first season in 'Snowta, Campbell averaged 23.2 points and 5.5 rebounds and became the unquestioned leader of the newly-founded club.

    The three-year period in Minnesota was undoubtedly his best in the NBA, and he held the all-time scoring record for the Timberwolves until Doug West broke it in 1996. He still is fifth on that list and first with 20.6 points per game.

    He went on to play a few more years in the NBA but never matched his individual success with the Wolves.

    He now coaches high school basketball.

7. Sam Cassell

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    Years as a Timberwolf: 2003-05

    Key Achievements: One-time All-Star, 0/1/0-time All-NBA

     

    Just the pure sight of Sam Cassell in a Timberwolves jersey makes me nostalgic.

    The 2003-04 season, one that saw Minnesota lose to those darn Lakers in six games in the Western Conference Finals, belonged to the Wolves' three-headed monster: Cassell, Kevin Garnett and Latrell Sprewell.

    Cassell was an All-Star and a second-team All-NBA that season, the only selection in both categories in his noteworthy career.

    Many believed that for a brief time he was the leader of the Wolves, a spot that had usually been reserved for the revered Kevin Garnett.

    Just the fact that he was here only for two seasons makes him "so low" on the list, but in all reality, he could've stayed longer. It frustrates me daily to think we traded another deep postseason run for Marko Jaric.

6. Tom Gugliotta

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    Years as a Timberwolf: 1995-98

    Key Achievements: None

     

    In two of the three seasons he played with the Timberwolves, Tom Gugliotta averaged over 20 points per game.

    He and fellow power forward Kevin Garnett (not sure if you've ever heard of him) were the first two All-Stars in team history, and the duo did it together in 1997.

    "Googs" was undoubtedly one of the best Minnesota Timberwolves in the team's history.

5. Sam Mitchell

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    Years as a Timberwolf: 1989-1992, 1995-2002

    Key Achievements: None

     

    With the exception of a three-year hiatus with the Indiana Pacers, Sam Mitchell played for the Timberwolves for his whole career.

    In 10 seasons with the club, he established himself as one of the top five Wolves to ever play. He is second on the all-time scoring list, trailing only Kevin Garnett. 

    He was the Toronto Raptors' head coach for four seasons in the late 2000's and was the NBA's Coach of the Year in 2007. He is currently an assistant for the New Jersey Nets.

4. Kevin Love

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    Years as a Timberwolf: 2008-present

    Key Achievements: One-time All-Star, 2011 Most Improved Player

     

    Kevin Love has simply been an offensive demon during his time thus far in Minnesota.

    He has averaged 15 points and 11.7 rebounds and has shot a prolific 37 percent from beyond the arc.

    This past season, he was an All-Star for the first time, and the fifth one in Wolves history. He also rattled off 53 consecutive double-doubles, a postseason record and a reason for Pups' fans everywhere to smile, something that is hard to come by nowadays.

    Love has already established himself as one of the NBA's best power forwards, and he will undoubtedly have some more great seasons here.

    At this pace, he could easily get to that second spot within the next five years, but we're getting ahead of ourselves now, aren't we?

3. Al Jefferson

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    Years as a Timberwolf: 2007-2010

    Key Achievements: None (although he should've had an All-Star appearance or two)

     

     

    Al Jefferson came to 'Snowta in 2007 as part of the blockbuster Kevin Garnett deal, and I, along with many T'Wolves "enthusiasts," was determined not to let it falter our future, but it did because the Pups could not start winning right off the bat.

    The only other problem concerning Jefferson was his defense, something us Wolves fans took for granted when the Big Ticket was in town. He had eight All-Defensive selections! Alright, alright, I'll stop waxing poetically over Garnett now.

    Nonetheless, "Big Al" had some solid seasons in Minnesota, and in 206 games, he averaged better than 20 points and 10 rebounds per game, but ultimately, he was shipped to Utah in order to make room for Kevin Love in the frontcourt, a decision that has worked out thus far.

    In his time here he never made an All-Star Game, something that was definitely debatable in both his healthy seasons.

    Contrary to popular belief, much of Al Jefferson's minutes spent in Minnesota were at the center position. In fact, 95 percent of his floor time during the 2008-09 season came at the five spot, and during his first year in the Twin Cities, he was the center 60 percent of the time. But us Minnesotans know this, so all is well.

2. Wally Szczerbiak

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    Years as a Timberwolf: 1999-2006

    Key Achievements: One-time All-Star

     

    As a lifelong fan of the Minnesota Timberwolves, I can honestly say that Wally Szczerbiak was the second most important player in the history of the franchise. 

    In the first five of seven seasons of "Wally's World" in Minnesota, the team made the playoffs, and, excluding the magical 2003-04 campaign, he was always the secondary option when Kevin Garnett was being guarded efficiently, although I have to be honest when I say that didn't happen often.

    Even when the team brought in Latrell Sprewell to take his spot, Wally calmly accepted a bench role and knew that all was well if the team was winning.

    He still put up 10 points and shot 43 percent from downtown in 22 minutes on the hardwood.

    He was an All-Star in 2002, the third in team history, and that season, he averaged 18.7 points while shooting an incredible 45.5 percent from three-point land.

    The funny part is that those numbers aren't far off his career clips with the T'Wolves.

    He truly made his impact known in the state of Minnesota.

    Too many times in my youth, I would toss up a three-pointer at Flagship and emulate the man that was Wally Szczerbiak.


1. Kevin Garnett

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    Years as a Timberwolf: 1995-2007

    Key Achievements: 10-time All-Star, 2004 NBA MVP, 3/3/2-time All-NBA, eight-time All-Defensive

     

    Excuse me once again for the length of this slide, but Kevin Garnett is the Minnesota Timberwolves, and four years after his departure, the statement remains the same. 

    Every single franchise playoff berth in T'Wolves history came when Garnett's name was found on the roster. Every single time!

    Easily the best Timberwolf in history (and that's a large understatement), his records above indicate what he has done for the NBA's 26th franchise.

    If you've read any of my previous writing, you'll know I allude to the 2003-04 season every time Garnett is mentioned. The fact of the matter is that it helps me hold on to that nostalgia that has been in Wolves fans' hearts ever since he departed four long (and winless) seasons ago. Even if I have done it 20 times, I need to be left alone for it. It's hard to root for the NBA's 28th-most storied franchise, isn't it, Pups fans?

    In the magical season (there's reference number 21), "The Big Ticket" won the NBA's MVP, but ultimately, the Wolves fell short in the Western Conference Finals. He led the Wolves in scoring in his last 11 (out of 12) seasons with the team. He holds four out of the five single-season scoring totals, with Tony Campbell holding second place amongst the KG plethora of records.

    His last three seasons delivered absolutely nothing, and after the team fell apart in the following years, nothing good happened for "The Kid" and the Pups, and he was shipped off to Boston in a blockbuster trade.

    I'm sorry we couldn't do more for you, KG.

Who Might Join This List?

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    I know a lot of you might think that Michael Beasley is deserving of a spot here, and in all honesty he's one of the T'Wolves' best scoring options in history. However, he's only played one full season with the club. I say he's a season away, and even then, he may crack the top 15 or 20.

    It's a long shot, but Ricky Rubio might join this list by 2013 or 2014.

    Unfortunately, I can't really think of any other active T'Wolves' that might find their way onto it. Perhaps Wesley Johnson has the best shot? He's still three solid years away from it, though.

    Some players who barely missed the list:

    Chauncey Billups

    Ricky Davis

    Corey Brewer

    Luc Longley

    Mark Madsen (for his spirit and passion alone)