Minnesota Timberwolves draft picks of the last 10 years: Where are they now?

MINNEAPOLIS, MN - MARCH 21: Ricky Rubio #9 of the Minnesota Timberwolves and Stephen Curry #30 of the Golden State Warriors. (Photo by Garrett Ellwood/NBAE via Getty Images)
MINNEAPOLIS, MN - MARCH 21: Ricky Rubio #9 of the Minnesota Timberwolves and Stephen Curry #30 of the Golden State Warriors. (Photo by Garrett Ellwood/NBAE via Getty Images) /
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Minnesota Timberwolves, Ricky Rubio
NEW YORK – JUNE 25: Ricky Rubio shakes hands with NBA Commissioner David Stern after being selected fifth by the Minnesota Timberwolves. Copyright 2009 NBAE (Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images) /

2009 Draft

Want to talk about an intriguing Butterfly Effect? Look no further than the 2009 draft.

In the week leading up to the draft, David Kahn practically looked like a genius. In reality, he fooled everyone, but there were a few days in which many of us talked themselves into whatever it was that Kahn was up to.

The Wolves traded Mike Miller and Randy Foye to Washington — ironically while Flip Saunders was the head coach of the Wizards — in exchange for three expiring contracts and the No. 5 pick in the upcoming draft. The Wizards thought they were shoring up their depth, but it was an impossibly poor miscalculation.

Minnesota now owned the No. 5 and No. 6 picks, and was expected to choose between some combination of Tyreke Evans, Jonny Flynn, and and Stephen Curry, with Ricky Rubio consistently landing in the top three or four in mock drafts.

But Oklahoma City took James Harden at No. 3 and Sacramento took Evans at No. 4, leaving Rubio and Curry both on the board for the taking. After selecting Rubio at No. 5, it was all but guaranteed that the Wolves would be picking Curry, the undersized sharpshooter from Davidson.

Instead, Kahn was seduced by Flynn’s smile and gutty performance for Syracuse in the Orangemen’s six-overtime win in the Big East tournament over Connecticut that spring. In the days following the draft, Kahn went on a media tour, insisting that Flynn and Rubio could be like Isaiah Thomas and Joe Dumars, the backcourt of the Bad Boy Pistons 20 years earlier. Teams could play two point guards together, Kahn argued, and the Wolves had the two best point guard in the draft.

Rubio, of course, was somewhat bothered by the drafting of Flynn, and with a complicated buyout needed to get him stateside, it would be at least a couple years before he would join the team.

Of course, Rubio finally came over prior to the lockout-shortened 2011-12 campaign, and has been a solid NBA contributor, generally ranking in the top half of point guards league-wide. Flynn had a promising rookie season but came down with a serious, long-term hip injury that derailed his career. He was out of the NBA in three seasons — no, he never suited up alongside Rubio — and spent three years playing overseas before wrapping up his career in 2014.

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Curry, of course, is already a two-time MVP, three-time champion, and six-time All-Star and is widely considered the greatest shooter to ever play the game.

The Wolves still had four other selections in the draft, but only ended up taking one more player that would suit up for their squad. The No. 18 pick, Ty Lawson, was traded to Denver in exchange for a 2010 pick that ended up being No. 16 and was traded for Martell Webster.

Minnesota took Wayne Ellington at No. 28. Ellington struggled in his first three years in the league with the Wolves, shooting the ball decently from outside the arc but not doing much else. He was traded to Memphis in exchange for Dante Cunningham prior to the 2012-13 campaign and has bounced around the league as a solid role player for the past few seasons, playing for a few playoff squads and having a nice career for himself.

The No. 45 pick was shipped to Dallas for a future second-rounder. The Mavericks took Nick Calathes, who only ended up playing parts of two seasons in Memphis.

The Wolves took Henk Norel at No. 47. Norel stayed overseas and never appeared to seriously consider coming over to play in the NBA.

Given the miss on Curry and the incredible depth of the draft — six All-Stars were selected and 12 of the 30 first-round picks are still NBA regulars, 10 years later — the fact that Wolves essentially came out of this draft with the three worst years of Ellington’s career and a few years of Ricky Rubio, it’s safe to say that this was the most frustrating draft in Wolves history.

But, it’s time to dry our eyes and acknowledge that the new regime, given the success that Rosas’ Rockets have had over the last couple of decades, will surely do a better job drafting than previous Minnesota front offices.

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Or, at the very least, Wolves fans have to tell themselves that. Hope springs eternal, after all.