MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — The curse with the NBA Draft might have ended for the Minnesota Timberwolves Tuesday night at the NBA Draft Lottery.
After a 16-66 season, the second-worst in franchise history, the Timberwolves had a 25 percent chance to get the No. 1 overall pick at the June 25 draft. But Timberwolves fans and media personalities alike have come to expect the worst when it comes to this franchise and the draft. The worst-case scenario Tuesday night would’ve been for the Timberwolves to get the No. 4 pick.READ MORE: Supply Chain Issues: 'There Really Are Problems Everywhere,' Even For Small Companies
Timberwolves fans and executives had reason to be excited when the New York Knicks got the fourth pick. It meant they were guaranteed a top-three draft choice. Then Philadelphia got the third pick, and Minnesota rejoiced when the L.A. Lakers were announced as the No. 2 pick.
For the first time since 2004, the team with the best chance to get the No. 1 overall pick got it. It’s the first time in franchise history the Timberwolves have the top pick, and it comes at a time when the talent for the incoming draft class is one of the best in recent memory. There are really only two players the Timberwolves have to choose from, but here’s up to five that they could take at No. 1 on June 25.
Karl-Anthony Towns, F/C (Kentucky)
Karl-Anthony Towns is 6’11”, 250 pounds and was one of the top players on a loaded Kentucky team that took an undefeated season to the Final Four before losing to Wisconsin. He’s a low post presence and is a dominant defender and shot-blocker. He got more aggressive and assertive scoring and rebounding as the college season progressed last year. For the season, he averaged 10.3 points, 6.7 rebounds and more than two blocks while playing just 21 minutes per game. He also shot better than 81 percent from the free-throw line. His ceiling is the highest of any of the projected top draft picks. The Bovada sportsbook in Las Vegas has Towns at 1/2 odds to be the top pick.
Jahlil Okafor, C (Duke)
The Timberwolves need a star big man inside, and Jahlil Okafor of Duke might have the best chance to be an immediate star in the NBA. He averaged 17.3 points and 8.5 rebounds for the Blue Devils and helped lead the squad to a national championship. He was the top-ranked recruit out of high school coming into last year, and at 6-11 and 270, it was easy to see why. He’s very light on his feet for his size and can create his own shot in the post. He has a body that’s NBA ready, but his biggest liability is at the free-throw line, where he shot about 51 percent from last year. He’ll get fouled a lot, so that will need to improve. But he was arguably the best player on a squad that finished with a national title. He’s been compared to San Antonio Spurs star Tim Duncan, a guaranteed Hall of Fame player. The Bovada sportsbook has Okafor at 7/4 odds to be the No. 1 overall pick.
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D’Angelo Russell, G (Ohio State)
While the Timberwolves may not need another guard, D’Angelo Russell might be the best overall player in this year’s NBA Draft. He averaged more than 19 points per game for the Buckeyes as a freshman, shot nearly 48 percent from the field and 41 percent from the perimeter. He had better than a 3-1 assist to turnover ratio and seems to be one play ahead of everyone else on the court. Russell is also an elite defender and is at his best while running the floor in transition. But if the Timberwolves take him, it will leave many puzzled with the team already having Ricky Rubio, Zach LaVine and others who can play the guard position.
Myles Turner, C (Texas)
Myles Turner is 6-11 and 240 pounds and was one of top-rated high school players in the country before heading to Texas last year. He averaged 10. 1 points and 6.5 rebounds per game in about 22 minutes of action. His length on both ends of the floor is hard to turn down and he’s mobile for his size. His ability to shoot from the perimeter separate him from other post players, but his game is a bigger risk to translate at the NBA level. He could turn into a star, but it will take time.
Emmanuel Mudiay, G (China)
Again it would be puzzling for the Timberwolves to take another guard with the No. 1 overall pick, but the talent Emmanuel Mudiay possesses is hard to ignore. He originally had committed to play in college at Southern Methodist University in Texas, but never signed a letter of intent and opted to play professionally in China last year. There, he averaged 18 points and nearly six assists per game. He’s 6-5 and 200 pounds and has a chance to be a star in the NBA. He’s been compared to Russell Westbrook, a star with the Oklahoma City Thunder.
Something else to keep an eye on: The Timberwolves have two second-round picks in this year’s draft. If they want, they have the ability to move those two picks and move back into the first round. There’s a chance that they could make a move to grab another Duke player and Minnesota native Tyus Jones, who is projected to be a late first-round pick.MORE NEWS: Fourth Stimulus Check: Can You Expect Another Relief Payment?
The heavy favorites for the No. 1 pick for the Timberwolves are Towns and Okafor. They can’t go wrong with either, but having the No. 1 pick this year is also something Minnesota can’t afford to miss on after having so many other draft busts.