Mar 17, 2013; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Minnesota Timberwolves guard Ricky Rubio (9) smiles with forward Derrick Williams (7) during the fourth quarter against the New Orleans Hornets at the Target Center. The Timberwolves defeated the Hornets 97-95. Mandatory Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports
I’m a Timberwolves fan. I would venture to guess that the majority of folks that are reading this right now are also Wolves fans. So what does that mean? If you don’t consider yourself a Wolves fan, you really don’t understand it. Trust me. (Unless you’re from Cleveland or a fan of Cleveland sports. Of course, you did have LeBron James, and I don’t care that/how he left you guys. At least you had him, and you went to the NBA Finals. Sounds nice.)
So this, Draft Week, is like the four days before Christmas. The anticipation has been building since the Wolves’ last game in mid-April, and try as we might to tell ourselves that the draft isn’t that big of a deal, that we’re over it, that we aren’t that bad anymore….we still love it. We have to. No playoffs since the glorious 2003-04 season. Not even sniffing a winning record since that time. Incompetence upon injuries upon incompetence.
Indeed, we can treat ourselves to Draft Week. We can enjoy the bandying about of various trade scenarios, plausible or not. It’s a familiar hum to us Wolves fans, and it’s intoxicating. Once again, the Wolves own a lottery pick and another pick in the late first round, in addition to two second round picks. (To us, the Tanguy Ngombo special. To teams like the Rockets, it’s the Chase Budinger, Chandler Parsons, Actual Real, Above-Average, Players that are Eligible to be Drafted special.)
There’s plenty for new-old President of Basketball Operations Flip Saunders to play with, to taunt and tantalize us with. For years, competency (we’ll even accept Draft Night Competency) has been dangling before our eyes, teasing us with its seemingly easy attainability. Ricky Rubio, a steal with the deftly-acquired #5 pick, and Stephen Curry at #6. A wizard of a passer and a dead-eye shooter drafted in tandem. A near-perfect match.
But even that layup of a draft scenario was botched. We needn’t rehash every single failure of years past, but they’ve been frequent; often spectacular. A wreck that no one can peel their eyes away from.
There’s the vociferously and insultingly-oft-denied Kurt Rambis Buyout Fundraiser of 2011 in which the Wolves willingly handed players such as Chandler Parsons and Norris Cole over to competitors that have used those pieces to reach the mythical playoffs that the Garnett-less Wolves have yet to attain.
Sandwiched between the carnage of the Rubio draft in 2009 and the Rambis Buyout draft in 2011 was the 2010 draft, comprised of plain, almost-boring failure. Wes Johnson and Lazar Hayward were both selected in the first round of 2010, and both are off the roster now. In fact, the Wolves had to pay the Suns to take Johnson off their hands, and Hayward is now team-less.
Last year’s draft was uneventful yet satisfying. The Wolves’ didn’t have their first round pick due to a quintessential Wolves’ trade completed by former POBO Kevin McHale, and they traded the #18 pick to the Rockets for Budinger. Their only pick was Robbie Hummel at the tail end of the second round, and while he is currently playing overseas he may never put on a Timberwolves jersey in the regular season.
So here’s to Draft Week. Here’s to the rumors that will circulate in earnest tomorrow morning. Here’s to the Cavs screwing up worse than the Wolves and drafting a Big Man with Foot Problems (BMwFP) at #1 overall in Alex Len. (Incidentally, the Cavs’ have Zydrunas Ilgauskas advising their front office. That’s a whole lot of international, seven-foot tall BMwFP in one building. They should know better, right?)
Here’s to the relative unknown that is the first round of the NBA draft, as we really don’t know what Flip and Rick Adelman will ultimately decide to do. Trade up in the top ten? Maybe. Acquire a veteran player? Possibly. Draft in their slot at #9? Probably. But anything can happen. Seriously, anything. Remember Flynn-over-Curry? I had to go there one more time….
And on that painful note…enjoy it. As much as possible, enjoy it. We’ll be here all week with thoughts on the impending doom draft. We’re just getting started, and nobody has a clue where we’ll end up.