After finishing the NBA season with a league-worst 16-66 record, the Minnesota Timberwolves won the NBA Draft Lottery on Tuesday night before the start of the Western Conference Finals between the Golden State Warriors and the Houston Rockets. With a 25% chance to receive the first overall pick in the upcoming draft, coach and GM Flip Saunders came out on top (if that’s how you look at the lottery) with the chance to select the player they want from the strong list of talented newcomers looking to make their mark on the League. Front-court players Jahlil Okafor(Duke) and Karl-Anthony Towns(Kentucky) are the consensus top players available.
Okafor is a solid, offensive talent and should be a 16pt/8reb guy if we’ve projected his strengths correctly, but questions about his mobility and defensive motor highlight the weaknesses list. Towns is more of the modern big man, able to defend the pick-and-roll, step out and hit the 3 while still producing in the middle.
Guards Emmanuel Mudiay(China), D’Angelo Russell(Ohio State) and Justise Winslow(Duke) are projected as the next level of players available. Although none have the upside of Okafor or Towns, statistics have shown that guards have a much-lower bust rate compared to their towering counterparts (think Bowie, Olowokandi, Oden, etc.).
The Los Angeles Lakers caught a break in the lottery process and moved in to the 2nd slot. Their good fortune led to the fates of the Philadelphia 76ers and New York Knicks, each of whom dropped from their slotted position on the draft board. New York, who finished with the 2nd-worst record dropped to 4th because of the Lakers and 76ers ending up 2-3, respectively. Philly who finished with the 3rd-worst record, picks at 3. They could have had 3 lottery picks, an NBA record, if the Lakers had fallen past the 5th pick and the Heat had fallen past the 10th picks, due to conditions in previous trades.
Selections 5-14(in order): Orlando, Sacramento, Denver, Detroit, Charlotte, Miami, Indiana, Utah, Phoenix and OKC
The NBA Draft takes place on Thursday, June 25th at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, NY on ESPN.