40. Ricky Rubio
If you have the No. 5 and No. 6 picks in what turned out to be a quality draft, and you turn No. 5 into an asset that can’t be realized for THREE YEARS because your No. 6 pick wasn’t nearly as good as the No. 7 pick and also managed to drive your No. 5 pick to a foreign country, how is that anything other than an abject disaster? Bumbling GM David Kahn told Minnesota fans last week, “I don’t expect to be a playoff team for at least two years.” Great, just in time for the lockout and a new-wave NBA world with lower salaries and shorter contracts that’s going to make Ricky say, “You know what? I think I’ll just stay here for a couple more years and make three times as much money unless you trade me to a big-market team.”
In fact, I thought about making Kahn the following bet: If Ricky Rubio plays even one minute for the Timberwolves, I will drive from Los Angeles to Minnesota for his first game while wearing a T-wolves jersey that says “KAHN” on the front and “No. 1″ on the back. (It’s an 1,835-mile trip. I looked it up.) But I don’t want to root for the T-Wolves fans to lose Rubio; they’ve suffered enough. I hope I am wrong. I don’t think I am.
(Follow-up story: Another NBA team sent someone to Spain to watch Rubio play for FC Barcelona a few weeks ago. The individual ran into one of Rubio’s advisers and asked him how many times someone from Minnesota had come to see Rubio this season. The answer? Zero.)
37. Al Jefferson
About 82.7 percent back from 2009′s knee injury. The bigger issue: Residual damage from a 116-265 stretch (and counting) in Minnesota and Boston. At some point, all that losing can turn you into an actual loser. It’s like a girl who keeps inadvertently dating jerks and eventually loses her self-esteem. By the way, Jefferson has two juicy career what-ifs: “What if the Celts had landed the No. 1 or No. 2 pick in 2007?” (they would have taken Durant in either spot and built around Durant, Jefferson, Rondo, Pierce and a bunch of draft picks and expiring contracts), and “What if Minny hadn’t screwed up this Rubio thing?” Both went against him. Maybe he’s just unlucky like Hugo Hurley.
(FYI: I was referring to the original Hurley, not Alternate Reality Hurley from Season 6 of what’s threatening to become the most confusing and far-fetched show in the history of television. If they change the course of the 2004 baseball playoffs, I’m out. You hear me, Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse? I’m out. Don’t go there. Don’t you dare. Don’t even THINK it.)
28. Kevin Love
I never thought Mayo would accept his destiny this early: third scoring option, solid 3-point shooter and quality perimeter defender on a winning team. The over/under was the year 2017 … and I had the over. Still, I’d rather have Love. We’re two to three years away from Love leading the league in rebounding while shooting 40 percent from 3 and dishing out Unseld-esque outlets. One of my favorites. Lock him down for multiple Mokeskis some day.
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