Wolves miss out on top pick, falling to No. 2 in NBA Draft lottery
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Add another chapter to the Minnesota Timberwolves' long history of NBA Draft lottery misfortune.
While the night wasn't a complete disaster, the Wolves fell to the No. 2 pick in the draft after entering the lottery with the best chance (25%) at the top overall selection. It will, however, be the highest the Wolves have ever selected.
The Wolves were beat out for the No. 1 pick by the Cleveland Cavaliers, who entered with a 19.9% shot and were represented on stage at the lottery by the son of team owner Dan Gilbert.
"As soon as the 14-year-old kid joined us we were toast," Wolves' president of basketball operations David Kahn said in a post-lottery teleconference. "There was no way he was about to be denied."
The Wolves are well-acquainted with denial. They have been in the lottery 14 times and still have never been granted the No. 1 pick.
It is the eighth time and second year in a row they have dropped in the final order. In 2010, the Wolves had the second-best shot at the top pick, but ended up with the No. 4 selection.
Despite the Wolves' seemingly endless bad luck, Kahn sees plenty of upside.
"It is what is," Kahn said. "There is no question that certain years the No. 2 pick has meant very important things for organizations. We don't know if this is one of those years. So, no, I wouldn't say that we're jinxed."
The team's focus now shifts to narrowing down its list of potential prospects before the draft on June 23. Many analysts consider this year's field to be weak, but Kahn doesn't agree.
"I have a feel for the depth, which I feel the depth of the draft is quite strong," Kahn said. "I don't have a feel yet for the top of the draft. I've seen most of the players live, but there is just so much to come in terms of interviews, workouts and the like."
Duke's Kyrie Irving, widely regarded as the top prospect in this year's draft, appears likely headed to the Cavaliers. With Irving gone, highly-regarded 6-foot-8 forward Derrick Williams out of Arizona would potentially be the best pick left on the board. Williams is an athletic, smooth-shooting hybrid-forward with the ability to drive inside, while capable of falling back for an outside shot.
Kahn stressed the Wolves need to stabilize their point guard situation, but the question is if they will look to do that through the draft, by trade or in free agency. After Irving, Connecticut's Kemba Walker and Kentucky's Brandon Knight are the next two best point guards available.
The possibility of the Wolves trading the No. 2 pick shouldn't be discounted. In the next few weeks leading up to the draft, the team not only will be analyzing and watching the workouts of an array prospects, but also will be entertaining offers from teams interested in moving up in the order.
"We have a lot of flexibility," Kahn said. "Even though we are painfully young, we have a lot of talented players on the team that I feel have a lot of value ... in part because those players are so young we have a lot of rookie scaled players in general. We have flexibility to make trades, flexibility to attract free agents and of course, we have an extra pick in the first round that could also prove to be an important piece of that flexibility."
Along with the No. 2 pick, the Wolves own the No. 20 selection, which they received as part of the Al Jefferson trade with Utah.
2011 draft order (lottery picks)
1. Cleveland Cavaliers
2. Minnesota Timberwolves
3. Utah Jazz
4. Cleveland Cavaliers
5. Toronto Raptors
6. Washington Wizards
7. Sacramento Kings
8. Detroit Pistons
9. Charlotte Bobcats
10. Milwaukee Bucks
11. Golden State Warriors
12. Utah Jazz
13. Phoenix Suns
14. Houston Rockets