2011 NBA Draft Lottery: Timberwolves Don't Win, but It Could Have Been Worse
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It is less than 24 hours after the NBA draft lottery, and many Timberwolves fans still don’t know what to think. The NBA lottery is still crap. It's still not needed, and one year of semi-lottery luck is not going to change 22 years of skeptism when it comes to this stupid game of chance. These are professional franchises we are talking about and I don’t know about you, but I’m still a little miffed that Kyrie Irving will likely never play for my team when in reality we should have at least had to make that choice.
Alas, that choice was made for us when Cleveland won the draft lottery. Still, it could have been worse, much worse. At a 35.72 percent chance, the Timberwolves really should have picked fourth statistically, which, given their history would have been fitting considering it's widely regarded as a two-man draft with Arizona forward Derrick Williams and Duke freshmen point guard Kyrie Irving.
Now, we’ve at least got a fighting chance at the consolation prize in Williams and with that, some hope and optimism for 2011 given David Kahn doesn’t mess this thing up.
With him, however, anything is possible.
Many Wolves fans will no doubt be happy since they are in the Williams camp and unless Kahn really messes things up, should take him.
However, they must first realize these three scenarios:
First, Kahn could always trade the pick. This would be stupid, even if it is for a proven veteran like Andre Igudala since Williams has more upside and will likely sell tickets and create a much needed buzz in Minnesota. In addition, he should put up similar numbers at a much cheaper price.
Trading the pick could allow a Western rival like Golden State or the L.A. Clippers to come in and get him and then we would have to compete with him directly for a decade.
The fact he's already talking "options" and "flexibility" scares me, as the choice should be obvious, but apparantly not for this inept loser.
Second, Kahn could trade down. Again, this would be stupid because if we go much lower than three, we miss losing out on Kemba Walker, the only other player at this point—knowing we have the No. 2—that I’d be perfectly happy with taking. The Wolves, given their lack of a pick next year, absolutely have to make this one count since it really has to last two years and two drafts.
Third, Kahn could draft Williams but then trade him in an all too familar draft-day trade ala Roy for Foye (2006) or Allen for Marbury (1996). Still, it appears we are only that stupid on years ending with a six, so we have a few years before the debacle of 2016 that sets us back a decade. I think this is the scenario that scares Wolves fans the most since we have multiple occasions where our team has got the short end of the deal. Most fans agree if anyone can be had in a deal for value, its Kahn.
Still, how do you feel if you are an L.A. Clipper fan? Sure, you may have the Rookie of the Year in Blake Griffin (at least until he becomes a free agent) along with Eric Gordon, but you also could have had Irving had you not hastily traded the pick for cap relief in the Baron Davis deadline deal.
Oops. Better make that money count.
I am sure they are counting on the Wolves' pick of 2012 winning the lottery for them, but even if that were to happen, its only going to hurt all the more since your core could have been Griffin, Gordon, Irving and probably Jared Sullinger.
There is just no way around this blunder which is going to get more coverage the better Irving’s career turns out.
Other observations at this point are that Enes Kanter, Alec Burks and Brandon Knight are no longer needed as drafting them at our current position would be much too high as Williams will be the consensus No. 2 pick for the fans and media. Again, what crazy David Kahn does is anyone’s guess, but until he screws it up—and I put nothing past him—fans can dream about Williams being ours.
But Where Will he Play?
Wolves fans are probably asking this in light of the fact we already have Michael Beasley and Kevin Love at the two starting forward spots. Keep in mind we already tried this forward rotation before with mixed results when we had Christian Laettner, Tom Gugliotta and Kevin Garnett for one full season in 1995. It was Garnett coming off the bench, yet still playing big minutes.
While I’d like to see Williams have Laettner type stats (can you believe he averaged 17.6 PPG during his short time in Minnesota? Me neither), it's more likely we see a KG-esque 10.4 PPG which is what “Da Kid” averaged his rookie year. In that year he also had a 33-point game and numerous highlight-reel dunks as signs of improvement and stardom became evident.
So is that already considered a win?
Eventually Williams will be eased into the lineup once Kevin Love becomes a Laker which I fully expect sooner than later. I only hope we don’t get fleeced on that deal. In the meantime, Williams should sell tickets and jerseys, provide high light reel plays, provide energy and perhaps give the team a little bit more of an identity as fans slowly come back and check out who he is.
Just remember, it could have been worse. When the fourth pick came up, I already penciled in “Minnesota Timberwolves” next to No. 4 in my chart prepared so I could call my friends and complain about how we were once again screwed over. When the card said “Cleveland Caviliers,” I was pleasently surprised. We had a shot at Williams at the very least and maybe winning this whole thing.
Also, it was known by the eighth pick that Utah and Cleveland would be in the top three and given those odds, the only other spot was either going to be the Wolves or some combination of Sacramento, Washington, Cleveland or Toronto. Given those odds, I think the Wolves did very well to at least get top three.
Also, keep in mind, other than Utah at three, all the top picks are eastern clubs until we get to Sacramento at seven. That's key for our ability to compete in the future.
When the third pick was being revealed, I said aloud, “Minnesota Timberwolves,” but again, this time the card showed another logo, the Utah Jazz.
With just two picks to go and a 25 percent shot at the top pick, I thought this was our night but it was not to be. But remember Wolves fans, it could have been worse, and you never know that Kahn would have taken Irving anyway.
Not a Sure Thing Kahn Would Have Taken Irving Anyway
While we will never know, we do know he’s 100 percent committed to Ricky Rubio coming over, and in the past he has said he could see playing Jonny Flynn and Rubio together. Adding Irving, however, would have almost assured Rubio never came over. Thus, Kahn wouldn’t have done it, and more importantly, even if he had, in a few years we would have had to decide on one or the other, and now that decision doesn’t have to be made.
Kahn is about the only one of us who actually thinks Rubio is coming over, so I am glad the draft was made idiot proof, or Kahn-proof if you will. We all know who the obvious choice is, but the real question is, will Kahn do the right thing?
Adding Irving would also have only further reduced the near-worthless value (if that isn’t an oxymoron) of Flynn since GMs would now know we have to unload him.
The final solace to remember, Wolves fans, is that we already did one thing. While we moved down in the draft, it could have been a whole lot worse. Most of our low expectations were exceeded already and we are already picking higher at No. 2 than we ever have as a franchise (which Kahn can and probably will take some kind of credit for).
Most of us didn’t think that was possible.
References from The Star Tribune directly contributed to the content of this article.
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