9 players the Minnesota Timberwolves gave up on too soon

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Minnesota Timberwolves front office mistakes Laurri Markkanen
Mandatory Credit: Rob Gray-USA TODAY Sports /

Number VI: Lauri Markannen

The Minnesota Timberwolves draft the 7-foot-0 240-pound center Lauri Markennen with the seventh overall pick of the 2017 NBA Draft. But thanks to a trade, he would never don a Minnesota Timberwolves jersey. Instead, he would join teammate, third-year veteran guard Zach Levine, and second-year point guard, Kris Dunn as a package deal that was dealt to the Chicago Bulls for guard Jimmy Butler and center Justin Patton.

The prize for the Timberwolves in the deal was clearly passionate Jimmy Butler, but much like Walker Kessler mentioned earlier, the Timberwolves’ willingness to trade away such a promising young rookie center would come back to haunt them again. At the time, the Timberwolves appeared to be set at the center position with Karl-Anthony Towns, who was already putting up an average that was well over 20+ points per game.

But as the Timberwolves would learn later, KAT cannot do it alone. Their thinking was that if the team could add the firey Butler, this team would make it to the NBA Playoffs and once there, anything might happen.

The Timberwolves did make the playoffs, but the cost of doing so cost them a promising NBA center who is now coming into his own. Now in his sixth NBA season, he is scoring a phenomenal 25.4 points per game. To rub salt into the wound, he has a career 37.2 percent from the perimeter and is besting that with a 40.2 percent clip from long range this season.

While he is by no means a rim protector at the level of Rudy Gobert, his sudden spike for the Utah Jazz shows that sometimes patience is the secret sauce to unlocking the true potential of an NBA player.