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The 10 Worst Draft Mistakes In Minnesota Timberwolves History: They Missed Stephen Curry Twice In 2009

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The 10 Worst Draft Mistakes In Minnesota Timberwolves History: They Missed Stephen Curry Twice In 2009

The Minnesota Timberwolves look like they have a bright future as a franchise. Since 2013, they have only made the playoffs twice. 2018 they were led by Jimmy Butler, Andrew Wiggins, and Karl-Anthony Towns. In 2022, it was their new young core that guided them to the postseason. No.1 overall pick Anthony Edwards looks like he's going to be a superstar in this league and the front office has made some moves to build a solid core around him and Towns. Minnesota’s front office hasn't always been on the money though.

The T’Wolves failed to build a winning franchise around Kevin Garnett in the 2000s, leaving us to question what could have happened if he was drafted somewhere else. They have whiffed on draft picks and made trades that left the NBA community scratching their heads. Mychal Thompson, the father of Klay, pointed out that the Golden State Warriors should give Minnesota a complimentary championship ring for all of the players they have gifted the franchise over the years. This gave us some inspiration.

Hindsight is 20/20 but here are the Top 10 draft day mistakes made by the Minnesota Timberwolves in their franchise’s 32-year history.

William Avery (1999 NBA Draft) - 14th Overall Pick

William Avery

Better Available Picks: Metta World Peace - 16th Overall Pick

This is one of the Timberwolves' worst 1st-round draft picks in their existence. William Avery played just 2 years at Duke University before declaring for the NBA Draft. In his final season at Duke, he averaged 14.9 PPG and 5.0 APG. Those are solid numbers for sure but worthy of a 1st-rounder? No. Avery lasted just 3 seasons in the NBA with Minnesota before leaving basketball for good at the age of 22. He never was able to average more than 3.0 PPG in a season.

Metta World Peace on the other hand became one of the best defenders in the NBA and an All-Star. He was a hound on the defensive side of the ball and was a catalyst for contention wherever he went. Sure, he has some black eyes on his resume from The Malice At The Palace and other altercations but he was incredibly valuable. He knew his role and he played it at an elite level. The best example of this is his days later in his career with the Los Angeles Lakers. As a starter alongside Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol, he was the team’s primary defender on the perimeter and without him, they may not win the NBA Finals in 2010. No, seriously, it was Metta World Peace’s game-winning three-pointer in Game 7 that gave them the ring.

Rashad McCants (2005 NBA Draft) - 14th Overall Pick

Rashad McCants

Better Available Picks: Danny Granger - 17th Overall Pick

As a Duke fan, I witnessed firsthand the talent and capabilities that Rashad McCants had. He used to kill Duke every time UNC played them and pretty much everyone else too. In his 3 years at UNC, he averaged 17.6 PPG and 4.1 RPG topped off with a national title in 2005. He was a sure lock for a long NBA career. Injuries plagued his first few seasons in Minnesota as he was never really able to crack their lineup. He had a bounce-back season in 2008 when he averaged 14.9 PPG but Minnesota gave up on him the following year and traded him to Sacramento. After the 2009 season concluded, McCants never played another game in the NBA and left basketball at age 24.

It took a year or two of development but Danny Granger quickly evolved into a serious offensive weapon for the Indiana Pacers. In just his 4th season with the team, he was being named to the All-Star team and averaging a career-high 25.8 PPG. He followed it up in 2010 with a season of 24.1 PPG. The injury bug bit Granger early in his career too and he was out of the league by the end of 2015. At least the Pacers got elite production from him before that happened though, right?

Brandon Roy (2006 NBA Draft) - 6th Overall Pick

Brandon Roy

Timberwolves Traded Brandon Roy For: Randy Foye (Portland Trail Blazers)

This is an instance where the Timberwolves hit on a draft pick. In true Timberwolves fashion, they let that pick go and got the lesser player in return. Foye had 3 decent seasons in Minnesota and averaged 13.0 PPG and 3.7 APG in his career there. He enjoyed an 11-year career with 7 different teams. Foye was never named an All-Star but he was named to the All-Rookie First Team in 2007.

Brandon Roy’s basketball story brings sorrow to the hearts of NBA fans worldwide. He won Rookie Of the Year honors in 2007, accomplishing the feat in fewer games played than any other player in history. He was named an All-Star in just his 2nd season and the following 2 seasons as he became one of the league’s most exciting shooting guards. Unfortunately, Roy suffered from a degenerative knee disease and was forced to retire at just 26 years old. He attempted a comeback in 2013 with Minnesota but by that time the damage had been too great. Roy was praised by superstars around the league like Kobe Bryant and Tracy McGrady as one of their toughest matchups on the court.

O.J. Mayo (2008 NBA Draft) - 3rd Overall Pick

O.J. Mayo

Better Available Picks: Russell Westbrook - 4th Overall Pick

O.J. Mayo came into the 2008 draft with a ton of hype surrounding his abilities on the court. He was an all-world shot creator, ball-handler, and shooter and was considered the No.1 high school basketball prospect in the country. But, Minnesota traded Mayo for Kevin Love after the draft and he was pretty decent his first few years with Memphis averaging 18.5 PPG his rookie season. After 2 seasons as a starter with Memphis, his role had been reduced to a bench player and aside from a 1-year stint in Dallas, he rarely saw the starting lineup again. In 2016, Mayon received a 2-year ban for violating the league’s anti-drug program and hasn’t appeared in a game since.

Russell Westbrook could have been the franchise cornerstone for Minnesota for years to come had they drafted him. In Oklahoma City, he became a league MVP and floor general for a Thunder team that was competing for championships by 2012. Westbrook may be the punchline to some harsh jokes in 2022 but there is no denying what he brought to the table every single night in his prime. It wouldn’t matter if it was O.J. Mayo or Kevin Love that Minnesota traded for, Westbrook was the correct pick to make at No.3 and Minnesota missed again.

Ricky Rubio (2009 NBA Draft) - 5th Overall Pick

Ricky Rubio

Better Available Picks: Stephen Curry - 7th Overall Pick

Ricky Rubio was a highly-touted prospect out of Spain before the 2009 NBA Draft. Could you imagine being the guy drafted 2 spots before Stephen Curry, though? Despite a decent career in the league, he might as well not exist. What throws more salt in the wound for the Timberwolves is that Rubio spurned them for 2 years after he was drafted to keep playing in Spain. In his 7 seasons with the Timberwolves, Rubio averaged 10.1 PPG and 8.1 APG.

Being the greatest shooter of all time and the man who single-handedly changed the modern game makes anyone drafted before you a mistake. Watching him win 4 championships, 2 MVPs, and a Finals MVP has to be unbearable. Curry is not only making the Timberwolves pay for passing on him but he’s sticking it to the other 5 teams who passed on him as well.

Jonny Flynn (2009 NBA Draft) - 6th Overall Pick

Jonny Flynn

Better Available Picks: Stephen Curry - 7th Overall Pick

What makes the Timberwolves debacle in the 2009 draft even crazier is they had another pick after Ricky Rubio and took Jonny Flynn over Stephen Curry! I am fully convinced that Timberwolves management didn’t watch a single minute of the 2008 NCAA Tournament and just saw Flynn was from Syracuse and thought “Yeah, he’ll do”. Flynn was by no means bad at Syracuse and as a matter of fact, he averaged 17.4 PPG and 6.7 APG in his final year there. He is no Stephen Curry though.

Flynn had a pretty decent rookie year averaging 13.5 PPG and 4.4 APG in 81 games as the starter. Offseason hip surgery in 2010 severely hindered his production moving forward as his numbers dipped to 5.3 PPG and 3.4 APG in only 53 appearances. Flynn would be traded to the Houston Rockets in 2011 and didn’t appear in an NBA game after 2012.

Wesley Johnson (2010 NBA Draft) - 4th Overall Pick

Wesley Johnson

Better Available Picks: DeMarcus Cousins - 5th Overall Pick

The track record for Minnesota drafting players from Syracuse is just flat-out bad. It was no different in 2021 when they decided to go with Wesley Johnson over DeMarcus Cousins. Johnson was solid his first 2 seasons in Minnesota averaging 7.7 PPG and 2.9 RPG before being traded to the Suns in 2012. Johnson made a few more stops with the Suns, Clippers, Lakers, Pelicans, and Wizards but never reached the No.4 overall pick potential he possessed. He has not played since the 2018-19 season.

Cousins bloomed into a dominant force nearly straight away. By his 4th season in Sacramento, Cousins was averaging 22.7 PPG and 11.7 RPG while being named an All-Star in his 5th season and for 3 years consecutively after that. He was arguably the best center in basketball at his peak in 2017 when he averaged 27.0 PPG and 11.0 RPG. Although he would suffer a pair of career-altering injuries later on in his career, Cousins was the better choice in 2010.

Derrick Williams (2011 NBA Draft) - 2nd Overall Pick

Derrick Williams

Better Available Picks: Klay Thompson - 11th Overall Pick

As things stood in 2011, Derrick Williams was probably the better choice over Klay Thompson at the time. How things have unfolded is a completely different story. Williams lasted just 2 and a half seasons in Minnesota and averaged 10.1 PPG along with 4.9 RPG. He was traded in 2013 to the Kings for Luc Mbah a Moute and played in just 2 seasons for them. He would have stints with the Knicks, Heat, Lakers, and Cavaliers before leaving the NBA in 2019 to play overseas.

Klay Thompson in the meantime has become a 4-time NBA champion and one of the greatest shooters in league history. The 5x All-Star has developed into a consistent 40.05 three-point shooter and 20.0 PPG scorer while being a key cog in the Golden State. You can attribute Klay’s success to the system he is in all you want, but there is not one person who would pick Derrick Williams over him in a re-draft.

Trey Burke (2013 NBA Draft) - 9th Overall Pick

Trey Burke

Better Available Picks: CJ McCollum - 10th Overall Pick

Minnesota drafted Trey Burke at the No.9 spot in 2013 and quickly flipped him to the Utah Jazz for Gorgui Dieng and Shabazz Muhammad. They did all of that movement with CJ McCollum sitting right there for the taking. Don’t get me wrong, Burke was a beast coming out of Michigan and even I thought he was going to be a stud in the NBA. He enjoyed a solid start to his career in Utah and even New York but has quickly found himself at the end of the bench with the Dallas Mavericks.

CJ McCollum on the other hand has become a truly gifted offensive talent. McCollum was the driving force behind one of the biggest upsets in NCAA history when he led Lehigh to an upset victory in the 2021 NCAA Tournament over Duke. By his 3rd season, McCollum had become a 20.0 PPG scorer, something he has continued to do for 7 straight seasons. McCollum could have been a solid rebuilding piece for Minnesota but instead, they got 7 seasons of Gorgui Dieng and 5 seasons from Shabazz Muhammad who hasn't played since 2018.

Kris Dunn (2016 NBA Draft) - 5th Overall Pick

Kris Dunn

Better Available Picks: Jamal Murray - 7th Overall Pick

Kris Dunn was a top prospect coming out of Providence College in 2016 and with good reason. In his final two years in college, Dunn averaged over 15.0 PPG, 6.0 APG, and 5.0 RPG in each. His game did not translate well to the NBA though. Dunn played 78 games for Minnesota during his rookie year, mostly off the bench, and averaged 3.8 PPG and 2.4 APG. He was shipped out to Chicago in the Zach LaVine-Jimmy Butler deal that offseason. Dunn had solid seasons in 2018 and 2019 with the Bulls, but hasn't done much since and has played just 18 games since the beginning of 2021.

Meanwhile, Jamal Murray when healthy has blossomed into a top 10 point guard talent in the NBA. Murray’s scoring has continued to improve averaging 16.0 PPG or more in his last 4 seasons, including 21.2 PPG in 2021 before he tore his ACL. Despite the injury, Murray clearly would have been the better pick for Minnesota. Murray has shown he isn’t scared of the moment averaging 24.3 PPG in his two playoff appearances in his young career, including 26.5 PPG in the 2020 playoffs. Offensive production from the point guard position is something the T’Wolves could have used in 2022.

Can The Minnesota Timberwolves Erase A Sour History Of Draft Picks?

The short answer is no. Look, the Timberwolves have had some success in the NBA Draft in their franchise’s history but even a broken clock is right twice a day. They have passed on MVPs, All-Stars, Hall of Famers, and champions for guys who disappeared after a few seasons. They have drafted franchise cornerstones like Kevin Garnett but failed to build around him for 14 years with their organizational ineptitude. The tide seems to be turning now.

Karl-AnthonyTowns has been through the wringer in Minnesota and 7 years in, has started to see his first true signs of contention. Sure, in 2018 with Wiggins and Butler there was some promise but we always knew that would fall apart. Now with picks like Anthony Edwards in 2020 and the acquisitions of guys like Patrick Beverly, Jarred Vanderbilt, and D’Angelo Russell, the future is bright in Minnesota. The team fought until the very end even giving one of the top seeds in the Western Conference a serious first-round scare in the playoffs. We shall see what the future holds for the Timberwolves and their fans but only time will tell.


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