Land of 10,000 Mistakes

Not every NBA draft pick turns into a Hall of Famer, a five-time all star or even a starter. A lot of making these picks is just luck. However, there seems to be one team who just cannot seem to get it right. The Minnesota Timberwolves seem to manage to blow the draft worse than anyone else in the Association. You might think I’m crazy but hear me out.

Shaquille O'Neal
O’Neal won three straight championships in LA.

The Wolves were founded in 1989 in the heart of the Twin Cities. In the past 26 years, they have found some spectacular ways to strikeout when it comes to the NBA draft. Some of it was bad luck, some of it was stupidity.

Fast forward to 1996, when the T-wolves found themselves on the clock with the fifth overall pick. They drafted a guard out of the University of Connecticut who looked like a promising shooter. However, they were enamored with the player who went the selection before them, a kid named Stephon Marbury. So they swung a trade with Milwaukee to get Marbury, which included the UConn guard. Marbury left Minnesota after three years when he said he wanted to sign somewhere else so the team traded him. Oh and the guard they sent to Milwaukee turned out to be NBA all-time three point leader Ray Allen.

Allen joined forces with Paul Pierce and fellow Timberwolves draft pick Kevin Garnett to win a title in Boston.

The year Marbury left, 1999, Minnesota owned the sixth pick and selected Wally Szczerbiak. Szczerbiak was by no means a bad player, but some other notable names that went that year include Elton Brand, Lamar Odom, Baron Davis, Richard Hamilton, Andre Miller, Shawn Marion, Jason Terry, Steve Francis and Metta World Peace. Yet somehow, Minnesota ended up with the kid from Miami University.

After several years of avoiding the lottery altogether, the Timberwolves found themselves with the sixth pick in the 2006 draft. They selected Brandon Roy and sent him to Portland. That ended up being the right move because Roy spent six injury-marred season in the league before retiring. However, the Wolves missed out on Rudy Gay, J.J. Redick, Rajon Rondo and Kyle Lowry. All of those players were drafted after Roy.

Curry is the league’s reigning MVP.

The 2000s just got worse for Minnesota. In 2007, they drafted Corey Brewer. Brewer has had a solid career, carving out a role as a reliable bench player Joakim Noah went two picks later and the Wolves missed out on another All-Star.

2008 went pretty well for Minnesota as they gave up O.J. Mayo and got Kevin Love in return. That small bright spot was quickly forgotten in 2009 when the Wolves managed to have their worst draft ever. The Timberwolves had four first round draft picks. They selected Johnny Flynn, Ricky Rubio, Ty Lawson and Wayne Ellington. On draft night, they sent Lawson to Denver, where he became a star point guard. They kept Rubio and Flynn, whom they selected with consecutive picks. Flynn flamed out of the league after three years and Rubio has never developed into a reliable shooter. The player that went after those two: Stephen Curry.

Kevin Garnett
Garnett made it past the first round once in eight years with the Wolves.

The following year wasn’t much better. The Wolves took Wesley Johnson fourth overall and he ended up being a dud. Players who were picked in the top ten after Johnson included DeMarcus Cousins, Greg Monroe, Gordon Hayward and Paul George. Cousins and George have both been All-Stars while Monroe and Hayward have been the cornerstones for their respective franchises for the past few years.

The last two years have brought some optimism to the franchise with the selections of Zach LaVine and Karl-Anthony Towns. Underscored in all of that is the return of the one true draft success Minnesota has in its history. Kevin Garnett was the face of the franchise for the Wolves for many years, becoming one of the league’s best players. Unfortunately, even Garnett’s greatness is not enough to wipe out all the years of draft failure from the Minnesota ledger.


5 thoughts on “Land of 10,000 Mistakes

  1. Well that was aggressive. Some of what you said is valid. I forgot the hyphen in All-Star. I had an editing error in leaving out Johnny Flynn over Steph Curry. I had a whole paragraph that got deleted during editing. The “copy-and-paste” line you refer to I wrote and WordPress incorrectly formatted it as plain text instead of a caption. I also fixed Spencer Hawes. That was just a mistake. I mention Brand, Davis, Francis and Odom even though they went before Szczerbiak because as I mentioned, this was highlighting the Wolves’ bad luck on draft day in addition to their mistakes. You need to read a little more closely if you missed that.

    You’re right though, I don’t have an editor. I am just one guy running a website. You seem to be a pretty good editor so if you would like to apply for the position, feel free to contact me. However, I don’t know if I want someone as condescending as you being associated with my site.


    • Hate to pile on, but the article is still rife with errors.

      – “Corry” Brewer?
      – “UConnn”?
      – “They selected Johnny Flynn, Ricky Rubio, Ty Lawson and Wesley Johnson.” – That would be tough, since they also drafted Wesley Johnson the following year. Maybe they should stop spending multiple 1st round picks on the same guy?
      – Szczerbiak – as the other commenter pointed out, you can’t really fault the career of Wally, who averaged over 5 Win Shares per year for a decade. Also, he went to Miami-Ohio University. He is not a Hurricane.

      Nitpicking aside, the greater point is that all of these “coulda been” articles are always very disingenuous. Pick any franchise, and you can easily play the game of “Here’s some guys they could have drafted instead”. Every single franchise passed over Jimmy Butler, Marc Gasol, Manu Ginobili, Monta Ellis, Goran Dragic, Draymond Green, Paul Millsap, Chandler Parsons, and DeAndre Jordan. Based on that, every team sucks at drafting.


      • Thanks for being the copy editors I don’t have. One thing to note is that Miami-Ohio is just Miami University. The one down in Florida is the University of Miami. That’s confused all of the time. I fixed the Wesley Johnson gaffe. Maybe I am a little tough on Sczcerbiak but I still think they could have done better.

        Of course the articles are disingenuous. It’s a reflection on what could have been. Obviously, there are guys that slip through the cracks every year and go on to be great players but it seems like Minnesota misses out on the top talent guys just a little bit more often. The fact that they haven’t been to the playoffs in 11 years should underline that they are not overly successful at drafting. That was my point.


  2. Jesus, where to start. Well, how about this: “the Wolves missed out on Randy Foye”. Um, you mean the Randy Foye that they traded for on draft night? Who then played 3 seasons for them, including one where he averaged 16 a game? Who they then traded for the pick that became Ricky Rubio? Sure, whatever you say.

    It’s J.J. Redick, not “Reddick”. “Minnesota has in it’s history” should be “its history”. And “Miami Ohio” could do with a comma in the middle.

    In the third paragraph, you clearly cut-and-pasted a line —”Allen joined forces with Paul Pierce and fellow ex-Timberwolf Kevin Garnett to win a title in Boston.”— you meant to be at the end and put it at the start.

    Why mention Elton Brand, Steve Francis, Baron Davis, and Lamar Odom when talking about the Wally Z pick, given they were all drafted AHEAD of him? The Timberwolves made a mistake by… not having a higher pick? Trading up?

    Also “Szczerbiak was by no means a bad player”; um, dude, he made an All-Star game and averaged 14ppg for his career; if you’re talking about blown draft picks, this hardly counts.

    Speaking of All-Stars: “Joakim Noah and Spencer Hawes went two and three picks later and the Wolves missed out on two more All Stars.” Um, dude, did you just call Spencer Hawes an All-Star? Mind = blown.

    Also, note the hyphen in All-Stars. You should start using it! Y’know, like the NBA.

    And, most of all, note that that any ‘failed Timberwolves draft picks’ article that doesn’t even mention Jonny Flynn —over Stephen Curry!— is an exercise in complete failure.


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