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Minnesota Timberwolves: 15 Greatest Players in Franchise History

Camden PaschAnalyst IIJanuary 15, 2017

Minnesota Timberwolves: 15 Greatest Players in Franchise History

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    The Minnesota Timberwolves may not have had as much success as other franchises, but the Wolves in the Gopher State have still had exceptional players to put on their jersey.

    From players in the early stages of the Timberwolves history like Pooh Richardson and Tony Campbell to Kevin Garnett and Wally Szczerbiak in the last decade and now Kevin Love, Minnesota has had several players worthy of mentioning.

    This is a list consisting of the 15 best players to ever play as part of the Wolf Pack.

No. 15: Isaiah Rider, SG/SF

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    Part of the Pack From: 1993 - 1996  

    Accomplishments: NBA All-Rookie Team

    Isaiah Rider was one of the better pure scorers to land on this list as he begins the top-15.

    In his rookie season of 1994, Rider averaged 16.6 points, four rebounds and close to three assists per game. These stats were good enough to earn a place on the All-Rookie team. 

    Unfortunately for the Minnesota franchise, Rider's off-the-court issues began to set place and these would lead to his exit from the Timberwolves.

    Rider began to be insubordinate to the Wolves' management, which caused problems on the team immediately.

    He also was involved in a legal incident where he kicked the female manager of a sports bar. For this he was convicted of fifth-degree assault.

    After these matters, the Timberwolves decided that enough was enough and traded Rider to Portland.

    Even though Rider had some dicipline issues, he is one of the few high draft picks that turned out to be valuable players for the Timberwolves. Rider averaged close to 19 points per game in a Minnesota uniform for the three seasons that he wore it and was one of the better players that the Wolves teams of '93 - '96 had.  

No. 14: Christian Laettner

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    Part of the Pack From: 1992 - 1996  

    Accomplishments: 

    • NBA All-Rookie Team selection

    What could quite possibly be the most disappointing player on this list, Christian Laettner slips into the No. 14 spot.

    After being a fantastic college player at Duke University, Laettner entered the 1992 NBA Draft with as much hype as anyone there has ever been. The Minnesota Timberwolves selected him third behind Shaquille O'Neal and Alonzo Mourning, respectively, in hopes that he could become a dominating center and franchise player.

    Laettner's only respectable season came in his rookie year as he scored 18.2 points and 8.7 rebounds per game. These numbers led to Laettner earning a place on the All-Rookie team and a place on this list.

    Like several other Timberwolves throughout their history, Laettner never lived up to his potential and was out of Minnesota after his third season.


No. 13: Stephon Marbury, PG

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    Part of the Pack From: 1996 - 1999  

    Accomplishments: 

    • NBA All-Rookie Team selection

    The first thought that comes to mind when thinking about Stephon Marbury is what could have been? 

    How great could the duo of Marbury and Kevin Garnett actually been had the two stayed together?

    These are questions that likely haunt the Minnesota Timberwolves' front office as they remember the late 90s team that had a chance to be a title team.

    Marbury didn't even play three full seasons with the Timberwolves before being shipped off to the New 
    Jersey Nets.

    Regardless, Marbury averaged slightly over 17 points and 8 assists per game in a T-Wolves jersey and created an exciting point guard-power forward relationship with Garnett.

    He'd most definitely be higher on this list had he played with the team longer, but he sadly did not and he ranks at No. 13.

    What would Marbury and Garnett's nickname have been? Marnett? Garbury?


No. 12: Latrell Sprewell, SG/SF

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    Part of the Pack From: 2003 - 2005   

    Accomplishments: None

    Latrell Sprewell is the lesser talked about member of the 2003-04 Minnesota Timberwolves version of a "Big Three." Paired with Sam Cassell and Kevin Garnett on the Wolves' team, Spewell was the third wheel on that team, but a valuable wheel at that.

    Sprewell as an NBA baller covered basically every facet of the game. He was a tremendous defender, a solid scorer and knew how to play basketball as he was smart on the court.

    Off the court, Sprewell was an incredibly cocky individual and it makes a fan wonder nowadays as to how he ever played with Cassell and Garnett with the type of ego that he possessed.

    Before the 2004-05 season, the Timberwolves front office offered Sprewell a three-year, $21 million extension to stay in Minnesota. "I have a family to feed. If Glen Taylor wants to see my family fed, he better cough up some money," Sprewell answered to the offer.

    Sprewell wouldn't make this list if it was based off of attitude and likability, but it's not and he does make the list coming in at No. 12.


No. 11: Pooh Richardson, PG

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    Part of the Pack From: 1989 - 1992  

    Accomplishments:

    • NBA All-Rookie Team selection

    Pooh Richardson, the Minnesota Timberwolves first ever draft selection, just misses out on the top-10 for best players in franchise history.

    Richardson was many things as a basketball player, but mostly he was an exceptional floor general and defender. Richardson never missed a basketball game in his time in Minnesota, which proved him as durable and reliable.

    Richardson averaged 15 points, 8-plus assists and a little over 1.5 steals during his three season long career in a Timberwolves' uniform.   

No. 10: Doug West, SG/SF

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    Part of the Pack From: 1989 - 1998  

    Accomplishments: 

    • Third in franchise history for steals. 

    Doug West may not be a household name to the common NBA fan, but the die-hard Minnesota Timberwolves fans know about No. 5.

    West was a face of the franchise for the 90s and displayed an all-around good game. He was a player that took pride in his defense and it showed every time he stole the basketball. West currently ranks third on Minnesota's all-time steals list and its easy to say that West was one of the best defenders to play for the Wolves.

    Even through the difficult seasons that the Minnesota club went through during the 90s, West stayed loyal to the franchise and played it out. Unfortunately for him and his family, he suffered from depression and alcoholism throughout his stay in Minnesota. His career as part of the Wolf Pack will not be forgotten, and he begins the top-ten on this list. 

No. 9: Terrell Brandon, PG

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    Part of the Pack From: 1999 - 2002  

    Accomplishments:

    • Averaged 14-plus points and 8-plus assists as a Timberwolf.

    Terrell Brandon is widely known for being one of the best point guards to ever play in the Land of 10,000 Lakes.

    Brandon is the all-time franchise leader in free throw percentage at 89.5 percent. He also ranks second in franchise history for assists. 

    Even though Brandon was never elected to play in an All-Star game, Minnesota fans know that he was surely worthy of it and acknowledge him for what he brought to the Wolves' team in the new millennium.     

No. 8: Tony Campbell, SG/SF

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    Part of the Pack From: 1989 - 1992   

    Accomplishments:

    • Averaged 20-plus points as a Timberwolf.

    Tony Campbell deservedly makes the top-10 in this list as he was the Minnesota Timberwolves leading scorer for the first three seasons of its being. 

    Campbell was a scorer with the basketball and he currently ranks fifth in points scored in Timberwolves' history.

    Campbell's play in the early years of the Timberwolves got the franchise off to a nice start in terms of talent. Unfortunately, though, there have been dry spells in that department several decades since Campbell's time.  

No. 7: Tom Gugliotta, PF

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    Part of the Pack From: 1995 - 1998  

    Accomplishments: 

    • One-time NBA All-Star

    Tom "Googs" Gugliotta was one of the first All-Stars in Minnesota Timberwolves' history. His ability to score 20-plus points while playing alongside Kevin Garnett made him invaluable to the Timberwolves' team in the late 90s.

    Both Googs and KG made the All-Star team in 1997 and represented the Timberwolves with their talent and class on the basketball court.

    Gugliotta is indisputably one of the best players this franchise has come by, and his play was appreciated and needed by his teammates.   

No. 6: Kevin Love, PF

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    Part of the Pack From: 2008 - present  

    Accomplishments:

    • One-time All-Star
    • 53 consecutive games with a double-double in points and rebounds (NBA record)
    • 30 points–30 rebounds game
    • 2011 Most Improved Player

    Kevin Love's name should be in the dictionary next to the word "hustle." Love's drive and determination to give everything he has on the basketball court has led to his success as a player.

    In his first season as a starter, Love averaged a ridiculous 20.2 points and 15.2 rebounds per game. He also shot 41.7 percent from the arc and 85 percent from the charity stripe. Love's offensive game is polished in every aspect except that he doesn't really have many post moves. This is something for Love to work on and get better like most fans believe he will.

    Love is an All-Star and broke the double-doubles record last season. Both of which assist him in getting to No. 6 on this list. 

No. 5: Al Jefferson, C/PF

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    Part of the Pack From: 2007 - 2010  

    Accomplishments:

    • 20 PPG/10 RPG Player as a Timberwolf.

    Al Jefferson was the prized prospect in the blockbuster trade that sent Timberwolves' franchise player Kevin Garnett to the Boston Celtics.

    His main addition to the Wolves' squad was offense. Jefferson could score the basketball and he did it by being dominating at one area of the floor. He would set up close to the rim, make his move whether it was a spin or hard drive and put the basketball in the hoop. It wasn't necessarily pretty by any means, but he was effective and turned in constant 20 point scoring nights.

    Jefferson's weakness came on defense where he was atrocious. Nonetheless, Jefferson's contributions on offense made up for his lack of defensive ability.

    He was traded to the Utah Jazz in the summer of 2010 for two first-round draft picks and Kosta Koufos. Many Timberwolves fans feel that this package was far less than equal value for Jefferson and resent general manager David Kahn for making the move. While Minnesota didn't receive a good package for Jefferson, his removal from the Timberwolves led to Kevin Love taking over the team, which has been brilliant thus far.  

No. 4: Sam Mitchell, SF

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    Part of the Pack From: 1989 - 1992, 1995 - 2002  

    Accomplishments:

    • Second most all-time in points and rebounds in franchise history.

     Sam Mitchell locked up a place in the top-five Timberwolves to ever play just because he is second in franchise history in points and rebounds.

    He was part of the Wolf Pack for 12 seasons and brought professionalism and his respect for the game to Minnesota. Mitchell was a great mentor to young players, most notably Kevin Garnett. He was one of the most complete players to ever play for this franchise with his scoring, rebounding, defending and his want to win.

    The Timberwolves' organization loved Mitchell and so did the fans. His ability to mentor young players transitioned to the coaching aspect of basketball, and Mitchell could very well end up as Minnesota's head coach in the future.

No. 3: Sam Cassell, PG

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    Part of the Pack From: 2003 - 2005  

    Accomplishments: 

    • One-time All-NBA selection
    • One-time NBA All-Star

    Sam Cassell, arguably the leader of the Wolves' memorable 2003-04 NBA season, is the best point guard to ever suit up for Minnesota. His abilities as a basketball player were brilliant, as he could do it all from scoring to passing to defending, but his leadership qualities are what made him such an exceptional Timberwolf.

    Cassell averaged 19.8 points and 7.3 assists during that 2003-04 season, but he suffered a hip injury in the Western Conference Finals, which led to the Timberwolves being eliminated.

    Cassell's stay in Minnesota lasted one season too short, as Minnesota dealt the veteran away for Marko Jaric.  

No. 2: Wally Szczerbiak, SF

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    Part of the Pack From: 1999 -2006  

    Accomplishments:

    • NBA All-Rookie Team
    • One-time NBA All-Star 

    Wally Szczerbiak, third in franchise history in points, is the second best player to ever put on a Minnesota Timberwolves jersey. When Szczerbiak hit the court, "Wally's World" was brought to everyone around him.

    The best facet to Wally's game was that he put winning above all else. Whatever it took to put W's in the win column, he would do it. He was the second option on offense during his prime, and later in his career he accepted a bench role. He was the epitome of a team player.

    His only All-Star appearance came in 2002 when he would average 18.7 points and shoot 45.5 percent from behind the arc. 

    Wally deserves this spot at number two, right behind his teammate that he played with for so long. 

No. 1: Kevin Garnett, PF

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    Part of the Pack From: 1996-2007  

    Accomplishments:

    • Timberwolves all-time leader in games, minutes, points, field goals (made and attempted), free throws (made and attempted), rebounds (offensive, defensive and total), assists, steals and blocks.
    • Sixth all-time in defensive rebounds in the NBA
    • 10-time NBA All-Star
    • One-time NBA MVP
    • Eight-time All-NBA selection
    • Eight-time NBA All-Defensive Team selection
    • NBA All-Rookie Team

    Kevin Garnett is simply the best player in the Minnesota Timberwolves' franchise history and it's no contest. Garnett was a great all-around player and portrayed that every time his feet stepped on the basketball court. 

    KG had a deadly mid-range jump shot and a reliable post game that he used to score the basketball. On the defensive end of the floor, he was an absolute wall. Garnett blocked shots and altered plenty of others that were out of reach.

    Garnett had the best opportunity to win a championship with the Timberwolves' in the 2003-04 season. The KG-led Wolves advanced all the way to the Western Conference Finals before being eliminated by the Los Angeles Lakers, 4-2.

    Had Sam Cassell not gone down to a hip injury in the Lakers series, there's a decent chance that the Wolves make it to the NBA Finals and possibly win the championship. That wasn't the case though and several years later Minnesota dealt No. 21 to the Boston Celtics for a trade package including Al Jefferson.

    It hurts that Garnett couldn't win his ring as a Timberwolf, but the majority of Wolves fans respect him for all that he did for the franchise and were proud of KG when he made the impossible possible and won his NBA title. 

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