Minnesota Timberwolves: History of the No. 11 pick in the NBA Draft

Minnesota Timberwolves point guard Terrell Brandon. (Photo By JERRY HOLT/Star Tribune via Getty Images)
Minnesota Timberwolves point guard Terrell Brandon. (Photo By JERRY HOLT/Star Tribune via Getty Images) /

The Minnesota Timberwolves hold the No. 11 pick in the upcoming NBA Draft. Should fans expect another role player to be acquired with the pick or does history suggest that greater value can be found at No. 11?

The NBA Draft is this Thursday night, and barring a late trade the Minnesota Timberwolves will be making their first-round selection at No. 11.

This is Minnesota’s first time selecting a pick at the 11th position but they do have some history with former No. 11 picks. Notable Timberwolves players such as Terrell Brandon, Gary Trent, Cole Aldrich, and Jerryd Bayless have all heard their names called 11th overall in each player’s respective draft.

This spot in the draft has been commonplace for role players or single-skill prospects but recent history suggests that quality talent can be found at that very position.

The NBA Draft has been around since 1947 and is generally considered a night of chance. Team scouts will fall in love with different players and nobody ever knows for certain that their pick will become a success.

Notable examples from the recent NBA Finals include Kawhi Leonard (drafted No. 15 overall in 2011), Pascal Siakam (drafted No. 27 overall in 2016), and Draymond Green (drafted No. 35 overall in 2012). All of the above were passed up by the majority of teams and yet turned into superstars.

One other notable player from the NBA Finals, Klay Thompson, was thought of highly enough to be a lottery pick but still had questions upon entering the league. Eventually, Golden State decided to draft him with the No. 11 pick in that draft — the very selection that Minnesota will be making in the coming days.

Before 2010

NBA history suggests that superstars are typically found within the top 10 picks of the NBA Draft. Most teams have opted to use the No. 11 selection as a means of drafting a college star with one or two skills that should translate at the professional level.

Players such as Robert Horry and Derek Harper became the standard of the No. 11 pick, contributing to NBA rotations for years to come. Most 11th picks have found long careers in the NBA but few have managed to reach true All-Star level.

Perhaps the greatest exception to this trend is Indiana Pacers legend, Reggie Miller.

The Indiana Pacers selected Miller with the No. 11 pick in the 1987 draft, changing their franchise forever with that lone pick. Miller went on to have an illustrious career with five All-Star appearances and three All-NBA awards. While no other No. 11 pick has reached the pinnacle of Miller’s career, there are some who have become a cornerstone of their respective franchise.

Both Allan Houston and Kiki Vandeweghe had successful careers, reaching All-Star status multiple times. Meanwhile, J.J. Redick is still playing after being drafted No. 11 in 2006, and is generally regarded as one of the top shooters in the association.

2010 to the present

Teams have struggled to find their diamond in the rough with past No. 11 picks but recent history provides reason for Timberwolves fans to be optimistic.

Last year, the Los Angeles Clippers selected guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander at No. 11 and already consider him to be an untouchable part of the team’s future. Prior to Gilgeous-Alexander, Domantas Sabonis was drafted No. 11 in 2016 and later traded to the Indiana Pacers. He joined Indiana’s 11th-overall selection in 2015, Myles Turner, creating a terrifying front court for the Pacers. While neither of these players have become All-Stars as of yet, they are both vital pieces to one of the top teams in the Eastern Conference.

If the Minnesota Timberwolves hope to strike gold on Thursday night, they need only look to the success that the Golden State Warriors found eight years ago. Along with the aforementioned Miller, Warriors guard Klay Thompson has arguably had the most successful NBA career of any No. 11 selection after fittingly being drafted in 2011. Thompson has already achieved All-Star status five times and has three NBA championship rings to solidify his worth.

The Minnesota Timberwolves will look to acquire the best available player in the draft on Thursday night. The Wolves desperately need to add shooting and defense to a roster that can only improve through trades and picks for the foreseeable future.

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Fortunately, history suggests that legendary shooters can be found with the No. 11 pick, and even if Minnesota is not able to find the next NBA superstar, there is reason to be optimistic that the their selection prove valuable to the team for many years to come.