The Minnesota Timberwolves don’t exactly have a sterling reputation when it comes to the draft. Let’s take a look at the past decade and where those selections are now.
Over the course of 30 seasons as an NBA franchise, the Minnesota Timberwolves have only won two playoff series. Somehow, they’ve still only managed to land the No. 1 pick in the draft once, and that’s turned out pretty well — shoutout to Karl-Anthony Towns.
But the Wolves have accumulated plenty of draft selections, and they have often come smack-dab in the middle of the lottery. While there have been plenty of busts, there have also been a fair number of players who went on to have moderate NBA success in other organizations.
Let’s take inventory of the past 10 seasons, starting with last season’s draft class and working our way back to the end of the previous decade.
There will be some tears along the way, no doubt, but please try to enjoy this walk down memory lane.
The 2018 draft was the third and final conducted by former president of basketball operations and head coach Tom Thibodeau.
He entered the proceedings with two picks: No. 20 in the first round and the No. 48 overall pick, which was the eighteenth selection of the second round. The first round pick was acquired from Utah in exchange for Ricky Rubio the prior offseason, and the Wolves’ original pick, No. 19 overall, was in Atlanta’s hands from the ill-fated Adreian Payne trade conducted by Flip Saunders several years prior.
The Wolves selected Josh Okogie at No. 20, and after not joining the regular rotation early in the season, the 20-year-old played his way into playing time. Ultimately, following Robert Covington‘s season-ending injury on Dec. 31, Okogie became a regular member of the starting lineup.
While the offense is very much a work in progress, Okogie’s defensive tenacity and his athletic ability in the open floor were of true value to the Wolves during his rookie season, and if he can continue to develop his jump-shot (he shot just 27.9 percent on 3-point attempts), Okogie could be an asset on both ends of the floor in Year Two and beyond.
With the No. 48 pick in the draft, the Wolves landed the reigning Big Ten Player of the Year in Keita Bates-Diop of Ohio State. Bates-Diop was at one time considered to be an option for the Wolves to select at No. 20, but his draft stock slid enough that the Wolves were able to select him more than midway through the second round.
Bates-Diop remains an intriguing option as a defender due to his length and know-how. His jump shot still needs work and he isn’t ultra-athletic, but there is certainly some value there as a flexible player who can guard multiple positions and a savvy offensive player.
After starting 16 games with the Iowa Wolves, Bates-Diop saw regular playing time down the stretch in Minnesota, playing in 30 total games and starting three. In the G League, KBD put up 17.7 points and 8.8 rebounds per game but shot only 33.3 percent from beyond the arc. With the Wolves, he shot just 25 percent on 3-point attempts.
Okogie has a shot to start again for the Wolves in 2019-20, while Bates-Diop will likely start the season on the fringe of head coach Ryan Saunders’ rotation.