Potential is a word that’s as dangerous as it is exciting when it comes to sports, and especially drafting players. Nobody knows that more than a Minnesota sports fan.
No matter the team, we’ve seen our fair share of draft choices on various teams that haven’t panned out for a variety of reasons. The NBA Draft is Thursday night, and for a few teams it can mean a fresh start with a player who has a bright future. The Timberwolves, unless they make a draft night trade, have the No. 13 selection. Teams usually don’t get difference-making players in that spot, but the beauty of the NBA Draft is that you never really know how it will end up.
The Timberwolves haven’t had much success recently with draft picks. In fact, most have ended up overseas and barely or never played on the Target Center. Some were traded away before they could even break a sweat in a Minnesota uniform. Ahead of Thursday night, here’s a look at some of the biggest busts for the Timberwolves in the NBA Draft.
Ndudi Ebi (2003)
Ndudi Ebi is arguably the biggest bust in NBA Draft history for the Minnesota Timberwolves. He was taken with the No. 26 pick of the 2003 draft as a senior in high school. Not only did he never make an impact on an NBA court, he managed to play in just 19 games over two seasons with the Timberwolves. He was released in November of 2005 before signing with the Dallas Mavericks. Ebi has played with several teams overseas, but never came close to reaching the potential the Timberwolves thought he had.
Paul Grant (1997)
Paul Grant spent his college days as a standout post player for Wisconsin and was selected by the Timberwolves with the 20th overall pick in the 1997 NBA Draft. After leading the Badgers in scoring, field goal percentage and blocked shots, Grant missed his entire rookie season with a foot injury and made his NBA debut in 1999. He played in a total of six games over two seasons for the Timberwolves. Grant was traded in March of 1999 and had stints with the Bucks and Jazz before retiring from basketball.
Loren Woods (2001)
Add Loren Woods to the list of Timberwolves draft picks that had plenty of potential out of college, but never got there. He was a star post player for Arizona, and the Timberwolves took him in the second round of the 2001 NBA Draft. Woods spent two seasons in Minnesota, playing 98 games but never averaging more than two points per game. That’s hard to do for a 7-foot center. He also never averaged more than 2.5 rebounds per game in Minnesota. Woods also played with Miami, Toronto and Houston before moving onto an overseas career.
Rick Rickert (2003)
When you consider the Timberwolves took both Ndudi Ebi and Rick Rickert in the 2003 NBA Draft, that year was a colossal failure by management. When Minnesota took the Duluth native and former Gophers standout late in the second round, it screamed of a mercy pick. It seemed a lot like the local team giving the local kid a shot. Rickert has never stepped foot an on NBA court. He’s never made it past the NBA Developmental League, but has made a nice career in Australia. It could be argued that he’s not that big of a bust because expectations for him were low, but it was a bad pick by Minnesota.
Lazar Hayward (2010)
Unless you’re a die-hard Timberwolves fan, you’ve either never heard of Lazar Hayward or barely remember him in a Minnesota jersey. That’s not a good thing as Hayward was taken by the Washington Wizards with the No. 30 pick in the 2010 NBA Draft and traded to the Timberwolves. Hayward, a small forward out of Marquette, played two seasons for Minnesota and averaged about four points per game. He played in 46 total games over those two seasons. He has since been signed as a free agent by at least two other teams, only to be released a short time later.
Derrick Williams (2011)
To call Derrick Williams a bust might be a bit of a stretch, but a lot was expected of him after being taken No. 2 overall by the Timberwolves in the 2011 NBA Draft. As a rookie, he played in 66 games (starting 15) and averaged 8.8 points per game. He scored 12 per game in his second season, but never really solidified himself in the team’s rotation. Blame can be placed on both sides there as the organization never found a spot where he could succeed, and he didn’t do enough to help his own cause. He played in just 11 games with the Timberwolves last season before being traded to Sacramento for Luc Mbah a Moute.
There are plenty of other choices that could’ve, but didn’t make this list. In 1996, they drafted Ray Allen at No. 5 and traded him away. In 2008, they chose three point guards and only Ricky Rubio is still left from that bunch. In 2006, they drafted Brandon Roy and traded him to Portland.
Needless to say, it should be interesting to see what the Timberwolves do Thursday night.