In the 26 years since the Minnesota Timberwolves debut campaign in the NBA, the team has lost at a rate of more than six games out of every 10 played.
The Wolves haven’t been to the playoffs since 2004 — 11 years ago — which is an ungodly streak of futility in a league where over half the teams qualify each year. They’ve made the postseason on eight occasions (so just over 30 percent of the time), and advanced out of the first round a grand total of once.
Not only have the Wolves been hard-to-fathom bad — you could make a strong case they’ve been the single least successful major pro sports franchise in the country over the past quarter century — but they’ve been equally unlucky. Despite all the losing, they’ve never picked first overall in the NBA Draft… until this year.
That’s because last night, the seemingly unthinkable happened — Wolves fans actually had reason to cheer after watching the lottery, which ended like this:
— NBA (@NBA) May 20, 2015
Yet the Wolves current roster attests to how much of a crapshoot the top pick can be. Although franchise brass has never actually made the top selection, thanks to the Kevin Love trade, next year’s team will almost certainly have the last three number one overall draft picks — the disappointing Anthony Bennett (2013), superstar-to-be Andrew Wiggins (2014), and a 2015 selection that will likely be Karl-Anthony Towns or Jahlil Okafor. (Read the Wall Street Journal’s in-depth scouting report on Towns here and Okafor here. I’m sure I’ll have occasion to share my personal thoughts on each of them sometime between now and the June 25 draft.)
Would you really be shocked if one of the other top prospects in this year’s draft — D’Angelo Russell, Emmanuel Mudiay, or Justise Winslow, to name three — end up being the best player in the class? Can’t you imagine a world where the Wolves select Okafor number one and he turns out to be this generation’s version of Al Jefferson, a talented but limited player? In other words, whoever the Wolves select, isn’t it conceivable that he turns out to be more Bennett than Wiggins? (Granted, it’s highly unlikely any of the five aforementioned prospects will struggle as badly as Bennett has in his first two seasons.)
For those reasons, the following video, which I invested zero thought in when I shot it last night, actually quite nicely summarizes the reaction I think a lot of Wolves fans had when it was revealed our hard-luck franchise finally won the lottery.
That’s right, excitement ultimately culminating in a ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
Time will tell whether having the last three number one overall picks on the roster will finally be the critical mass the Wolves need to become playoff relevant once again, but if nothing else it was nice to have a reason to cheer for the team in mid-May for the first time since the long-distant MV3 era.
— Welcome to my new blog project. To begin with, each week I’ll be publishing a couple pieces spanning the gamut from columns like the one above to short nonfiction stories to the occasional sports hot take. I’m also planning a weekly podcast hosted by yours truly and featuring topical interviews with notable Twin Citians, so stay tuned!
As always, thanks for reading, and your feedback is appreciated.