The best players the Minnesota Timberwolves passed on in the NBA Draft

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NEW YORK – JUNE 24: Wesley Johnson stands with NBA Commisioner David Stern after being drafted by The Minnesota Timberwolves at Madison Square Garden on June 24, 2010 in New York, New York. (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)

The Minnesota Timberwolves have been bottom-dwellers for the majority of their existence, but have often dropped the proverbial ball on draft night.

The NBA Draft is often full of uncertainty, and the Minnesota Timberwolves are no strangers to this reality.

The Wolves have drafted 74 players in the history of their franchise, but have only drafted three players that have made the All-Star Game, including players acquired on draft night. Those players are Kevin Love, Karl-Anthony Towns, and Wally Szczerbiak.

Multiple franchises in the past decade have built championship contenders through the draft. The NBA has seen small-to-medium market teams succeed by building to the draft: Oklahoma City with Westbrook-Harden-Durant, Golden State with Curry-Klay-Draymond, and more recently Denver with Murray-Jokic-Porter Jr.

The success of these teams highlights the importance of drafting well for small market teams since these markets aren’t typically first-rate free-agent destinations.

The Timberwolves hold the No. 1 pick in November’s draft, which amplifies the need to make the correct pick if the Wolves decide not to trade back. History shows that the Wolves have a history of missing out on opportunities, and they cannot afford to make a mistake in this year’s draft if they hope to get the most out of the careers of Towns and D’Angelo Russell.

In order to highlight the importance of drafting well, let’s take a look at some of the Wolves’ missed opportunities. The following is a lineup of players the Wolves passed on in the draft.

The lineup was made with these rules in place in order to be fair to the team:

  1. The player must have been picked within five picks after a Timberwolves pick. This eliminates players that would have been unreasonable to pick at their spot.For instance, the Wolves drafted Derrick Williams at No. 2 overall, but Jimmy Butler went No. 30 to Chicago. The Wolves would have been considered crazy to reach for someone like Butler at the time and would have be unfair to hold them to that standard in hindsight. After all, plenty of teams passed on Butler.
  2. The Wolves must have picked a player and not traded out. It’s hard to consider a team missing out on a player if the team was trying to trade out of the draft.

Before we get started, let’s look at a few honorable mentions who met the criteria but were left out of the lineup due to roster constraints:

  • Joakim Noah
  • Tristan Thompson
  • Buddy Hield
  • Rudy Gobert
  • DeMar DeRozan
  • Gordon Hayward

Okay, let’s check out a full lineup filled with players the Wolves have passed on in the NBA draft.

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