Timberwolves finish to 2022-23 season screws Jazz lottery chances

Mandatory Credit: Patrick Gorski-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Patrick Gorski-USA TODAY Sports /

From the moment that the Minnesota Timberwolves traded four first-round draft picks to the Utah Jazz, along with five players, the Timberwolves understood that for many years to come, the fans of the Utah Jazz would be cheering against the Timberwolves long into the future. After all, those first-round draft picks occur on a regular bi-annual basis for the next seven years.

And the first installment happens in the 2023 NBA Draft, as the Timberwolves’ first-round draft pick conveys to the Utah Jazz without the benefit of any negotiated protections. Curiously, thanks to the presence of the NBA Draft Lottery, 14 of the 30 NBA teams in the league have a mathematical possibility of emerging from the lottery with the top draft pick, and an even greater chance of emerging from the lottery with a Top-4 draft pick.

But for any and all Utah Jazz fans who were cheering for the Timberwolves to tumble at the end of the 2022-23 NBA season in the hopes of improving their chances of laying claim to one of the top picks in the 2023 NBA Draft, we have this to say.

“See you at the 2025 NBA Draft Lottery, Jazz fans!”

The reason is that thanks to the Minnesota Timberwolves finish of a three-game winning streak, and inching out the New Orleans Pelicans (42-40) and the Oklahoma City Thunder (40-42) for the eighth and final berth in the NBA Western Conference of the NBA Playoffs, the Timberwolves priority in the 2023 NBA Draft fell to the 16th overall spot.

Translated, the Timberwolves’ first-round draft pick in the 2023 NBA Draft will not qualify for the 2023 NBA Draft Lottery. As a result, the Timberwolves managed to screw the Utah Jazz out of improving their lottery chances for a top pick in the 2023 NBA Draft this year.

The Minnesota Timberwolves do not possess either their first or second-round picks. But the team does hold one second-round pick, the second-round pick of the New York Knicks which was acquired during the 2022 NBA Draft.

While few NBA fans get excited over a second-round pick, Timberwolves President Tim Connelly has a reputation as a draft whisperer, and he could add a solid contributor even that late into the second round.

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The 2023 NBA Draft is certainly a topic to discuss in the future. But even as the Timberwolves are fighting to survive in Round 1 of the NBA Playoffs, this team did manage enough success to keep their pick out of the NBA Draft Lottery. That is nothing short of a victory for the team, considering the struggles the Timberwolves endured to get here.