I have a prediction to make, these are the last two rounds that anyone will actually care about. The NBA is a relatively new league with far fewer players than say the MLB or NFL. That means there aren’t nearly as many all-time great players in the history of the NBA. Once you get around 100-150 the names begin to drop off from hall of famers to guys who were pretty good for like three years very quickly. That being said, there are still a lot of interesting decisions to be made. Do you value modern players with fewer accolades over old school guys who maybe won a few championships but missed out on the personal glory? Do you value guards over bigs? Which position will dry up first? and so on. One trigger warning I’ll make, this isn’t a list of the best players ever, it’s a draft where dozens of variables are taken into consideration to try to build the best teams. Your favorite point guard may fall 20 spots because all of the other teams already have point guards. Not to say we (John) didn’t make some huge reaches for guys who maybe wouldn’t have been picked this high, but that’s what happens in drafts and that’s why they’re fun. Without further ado, here are rounds three and four of our mega-draft.
Round 3: The Guys You Have Still Heard Of
Pick 61: Indiana Pacers (Phil): Damian Lillard
Stats: 6x All-Star, 6x All-Pro, 2012-13 ROY
Teammates: Michael Jordan, Robert Parish
It’s Dame time in Indianapolis. This team is going to mow everyone else down in the playoffs.
Pick 62: Miami Heat (John): Vince Carter
Stats: 8x All-Star, 2x All-NBA, 1998-99 ROY
Teammates: Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Dennis Johnson
It’s been about 15 years since Vince Carter was a relevant NBA player, which is insane to think about because he just retired a year ago. Most people know him as the greatest dunker ever and It’s hard to remember how good Vinsanity really was during his prime in the early 2000’s.
Pick 63: Denver Nuggets (Phil): Earl Monroe
Stats: 1x NBA Champion, 4x All-Star, 1x All-NBA, 1967-68 ROY, Hall of Fame
Teammates: LeBron James, Alonzo Mourning
Earl Monroe has the coolest nicknames in NBA history. A smattering of the best on Basketball Reference include: The Pearl, Black Jesus, The Lord’s Prayer, Einstein, and Thomas Edison.
Pick 64: Utah Jazz (John): Bernard King
Stats: 4x All-Star, 4x All-NBA, 1x Scoring Champ, Hall of Fame
Teammates: Magic Johnson, Bob McAdoo
The Jazz are going to score 130 points a game, and give up 140.
Stats: 1x NBA Champion, 12x All-Star, 12x All-NBA, Hall of Fame
Teammates: Charles Barkley, Bill Walton, Tiny Archibald
Probably good to go by Dolph when your name is Adolph and you made your NBA debut in 1949.
Pick 99: Los Angeles Clippers (John): Jerry Lucas
Stats: 1x NBA Champion, 7x All-Star, 5x All-NBA, 1963-64 ROY, Hall of Fame
Teammates: Elgin Baylor, George Mikan, Hal Greer
This old timers team kinda kicks ass.
Pick 100: Sacramento Kings (Phil): Mitch Richmond
Stats: 1x NBA Champion, 6x All-Star, 5x All-NBA, 1988-89 ROY, Hall of Fame
Teammates: Dirk Nowitzki, Jason Kidd, Artis Gilmore
Mitch Richmond makes his long awaited return to the Kings to remind fans that he impacts winning 0% of the time.
Pick 101: Brooklyn Nets (John): Connie Hawkins
Stats: 1x ABA Champion, 1x ABA MVP, 4x NBA all-Star (1x ABA), 1x All-NBA (2x All-ABA), Hall of Fame
Teammates: David Robinson, John Stockton, David Thompson
Possibly the greatest basketball player of his era who got blackballed by the NBA until he was past his prime.
Pick 102: Toronto Raptors (Phil): Tim Hardaway Sr.
Stats: 5x All-Star, 5x All-NBA
Teammates: Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen, Bob Lanier
Tim Hardaway and Kevin Garnett might be more exciting than Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen.
Pick 103: Chicago Bulls (John): Walt Bellamy
Stats: 4x All-Star, 1961-62 ROY, Hall of Fame
Teammates: Jerry West, Bob Cousy, Sam Jones
Gives the small core some much-needed big beef.
Pick 104: Cleveland Cavaliers (Phil): Nikola Jokic
Stats: 1x NBA MVP, 3x All-Star, 3x All-NBA
Teammates: Karl Malone, Walt Frazier, Pete Maravich
The reigning MVP adds a versatile point-center to pair with scoring machine Karl Malone in the frontcourt. Jokic, Frazier, and Maravich can all initiate the offense and create one of the most intriguing lineups so far.
Pick 105: Dallas Mavericks (John): Joel Embiid
Stats: 4x All-Star, 3x All-NBA, 3x All-Defensive
Teammates: Moses Malone, Elvin Hayes, Adrian Dantley
This team will grab every rebound that’s ever been available in the history of organized sports.
Pick 106: Golden State Warriors (Phil): Tom Heinsohn
Stats: 8x NBA Champion, 6x All-Star, 4x All-NBA, 1956-57 ROY, Hall of Fame
Teammates: Steph Curry, Rick Barry, Dwight Howard
A swiss army knife that will help fans forget about the grade A assholes that populate the roster.
Pick 107: Memphis Grizzlies (John): Blake Griffin
Stats: 6x All-Star, 5x All-NBA, 2010-11 ROY
Teammates: Julius Erving, Reggie Miller, Pau Gasol
Memphis just became the real lob city.
Pick 108: Washington Wizards (Phil): Chris Bosh
Stats: 2x NBA Champion, 11x All-Star, 1x All-NBA, Hall of Fame
Teammates: Oscar Robertson, George Gervin, Wes Unseld
Bosh was the third-wheel for two Heat Championships and might be the perfect fourth-wheel in Washington alongside beefy Wes Unseld.
Pick 109: Detroit Pistons (John): Kyle Lowry
Stats: 1x NBA Champion, 6x All-Star, 1x All-NBA
Teammates: Kevin Durant, Willis Reed, Luka Doncic
Lowry brings some added toughness to the backcourt and can take some ball-handling pressure off Luka Doncic.
Teammates: Hakeem Olajuwon, Gary Payton, Alex English
Reunites the ’96 Sonics dup that took Jordan’s 72-win Bulls to six games in the 1996 NBA Finals. The Wolves are finally back with one of the best first four picks in draft history.
Pick 114: Phoenix Suns (Phil): Joe Johnson
Stats: 7x All-Star, 1x All-NBA
Teammates: Larry Bird, Russell Westbrook, Dave Cowens
This is the official beginning of the “we don’t know what we’re doing” section of the draft.
Pick 115: Milwaukee Bucks (John): Dave Bing
Stats: 7x All-Star, 3x All-NBA, 1966-67 ROY, 1x Scoring Champ, Hall of Fame
Teammates: Wilt Chamberlain, Clyde Drexler, Dennis Rodman
Just has to get the ball to Wilt and stay far away from Rodman for this to work.
Pick 116: Charlotte Hornets (Phil): Yao Ming
Stats: 8x All-Star, 5x All-NBA, Hall of Fame
Teammates: Bill Russell, James Worthy, Tony Parker
Not sure if Yao is the perfect center to put next to Bill Russell or this is a horrible idea, but this frontline will get the people talking and made Charlotte the de facto most popular team worldwide.
Pick 117: Utah Jazz (John): Kevin Love
Stats: 1x NBA Champion, 5x All-Star, 2x All-NBA
Teammates: Magic Johnson, Bob McAdoo, Bernard King
Magic will love a big who can shoot threes who can also get him an in with the Beach Boys.
Pick 118: Denver Nuggets (Phil): Dan Issel
Stats: 1x ABA Champion, 1x NBA All-Star (6x ABA), 5x All-ABA, 1970-71 ABA ROY, Hall of Fame
Teammates: LeBron James, Alonzo Mourning, Earl Monroe
Scoring center who did most of his damage in the ABA should be an interesting fit next to Alonzo Mourning.
Pick 119: Miami Heat (John): Shawn Marion
Stats: 1x NBA Champion, 4x All-Star, 2x All-NBA
Teammates: Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Dennis Johnson, Vince Carter
The Matrix gives the Heat an all-around presence who might have the wonkiest shooting motion of any borderline hall of famer.
Pick 120: Indiana Pacers (Phil): Bob Dandridge
Stats: 2x NBA Champion, 4x All-Star, 1x All-NBA, 1x All-Defensive, Hall of Fame
Teammates: Michael Jordan, Robert Parish, Damian Lillard
A two-time champ who can be MJ’s new poor-man’s Scottie Pippen.
Draft beer, the NBA Draft, the movie Draft Day, conscription; ok maybe not the last one, but drafts (for the most part) are fun. Everyone has a good time, the people getting drafted (again non-military) get to usually fulfill a lifelong dream while the people drafting are having fun, joy, and merriment (or going fast if you’re racing). In sports the draft is the beginning of a career and the best way to make you team better. In everyday life, people use drafts all of the time. Friends get together for a fantasy football draft, podcasters may have a friendly movie draft, or parents have a kid draft (you don’t want to be last in that one), but for the most part these hypothetical “just for fun” drafts are short and unfinished. Let’s change that.
Most previous All time NBA lists or drafts are capped at 100 players. “The top 100 players in NBA history”, “Re-drafting the first round of the 1984 NBA Draft”, “one player every team should draft”, and so on. It’s usually a fun exercise but I’m usually left wanting more. who is the 121st best player ever? So we decided to take all 30 current NBA teams and using a snake-draft format, draft a full 15-man roster for each team. If you can do math at home that’s 450 players in total plus a head coach for each franchise. If your immediate reaction is ” I can’t even think of 450 NBA players”, well neither can I so that’s not an excuse to sit this one out.
This whole exercise started out as a podcast which you can listen to here for even more expert analysis and insight on each pick. The reason this also turned into a blog is because I thought it would be easier for the listeners to keep track of all of the picks if I write them down because god knows we could hardly keep track of them ourselves.
The rules of the game were fairly simple. We took all 30 current NBA franchises and put them into a randomizer to get the draft order. We flipped a coin to see who would get the first pick (me) and then alternated teams between the two of us. When it came to drafting players there were no rules. If you wanted to take Stephon Marbury first, then you’re an idiot and kind of ruined the project, but no one is going to stop you. You could construct a team anyway you saw fit. All-point guards, only Europeans, every player from the 1992 Timberwolves, whatever you wanted to do was legal. Like the purge but for NBA nerds.
Without further ado, here are rounds 1-2 of the All-Time NBA Mega-Draft. (Don’t @ me if your favorite players are eight spots lower than where you would have taken them in your 450 person hypothetical draft.)
Round 1:The Building Blocks
Pick 1: Indiana Pacers (Phil): Michael Jordan
Stats: 6x NBA Champion, 5x NBA MVP, 6x Finals MVP, 14x All-Star, 11x All-NBA, 9x All-Defensive, 1x DPOY, 10x Scoring Champ, 1984-85 ROY, Hall of Fame
An absolute no-brainer of a first overall pick. MJ is quite clearly the greatest basketball player of all time and sadly still has the best Space Jam movie ever made. The GOAT could take a team of high school players and probably make the playoffs against the rest of the mega-draft field. It makes me happy that the Pacers got him, because they fucking hate him.
Pick 2: Miami Heat (John): Kareem Abdul-Jabbar
Stats: 6x NBA Champion, 6x NBA MVP, 2x Finals MVP, 19x All-Star, 15x All-NBA, 11x All-Defensive, All-Time Leading Scorer, 2x Scoring Champ, 1969-70 ROY, Hall of Fame
LeBron fans are coming for John for denying a Heatles reunion and allowing him to fall past the second pick but Kareem is arguably the best big man ever and at any point between 1946 and 2015 would be the slam dunk player you wan to build your team around. Unfortunately for him it is 2021 and we’ve finally figured out that versatile wings are the most valuable players in the game. Kareem does have one thing going for him, he’s a better actor and MJ and LeBron.
A gift from the dumbass gods, somehow LeBron falls to the Nuggets with the third pick. Some will argue that he should have been the obvious number one pick (those people are wrong), but LeBron is clearly the best player we’ve seen since Jordan (and the worst actor). He’ll somehow get knocked in this exercise for building a super team, but that’s kind of the point.
Pick 4: Utah Jazz (John): Magic Johnson
Stats: 5x NBA Champion, 3x NBA MVP, 3x Finals MVP, 12x All-Star, 10x All-NBA, Hall of Fame
Magic Johnson is going to fucking hate Salt Lake City. I give it about 16 games before he requests a trade to the Lakers or the Heat. His twitter handle will be a must follow during the season for all the obvious stuff he’s going to “notice” while he’s there. @MagicJohnson: Wow, sure is cold in Salt Lake City in February. @MagicJohnson: Awful lot of white people around me. @MagicJohnson (channeling his inner Eric Bledsoe): I don’t want to be here. He’ll still probably turn it into a party city.
Pick 5: Charlotte Hornets (Phil): Bill Russell
Stats: 11x NBA Champion, 5x NBA MVP, 12x All-Star, 11x All-NBA, 1x All-Defensive, Hall of Fame
Russell his going to bring his 11 rings to Charlotte and a franchise that doesn’t have a lot of experience winning. The best defensive player in NBA history is the perfect anchor for this smaller market team, and Russell will be a big part of the community as well. The perfect value/character pick at number five.
Pick 6: Milwaukee Bucks (John): Wilt Chamberlain
Stats: 2x NBA Champion, 4x MVP, 1x Finals MVP, 13x All-Star, 10x All-NBA, 2x All-Defensive, All-Time Leader in Rebounds, 1959-60 ROY, 7x Scoring Champ, Hall of Fame
Is it possible to have sex with every person in a city, because Wilt is definitely going to try it in Milwaukee bringing new meaning to the Cream City nickname. Wilt’s individual stats are legendary, but I’m worried how he’ll fair going up against the best of the best every night. Bill Russell owned him during their careers and Wilt never had anyone to match his height and athleticism. Now in a league with the likes of Shaq, David Robinson, and Giannis, it will be interesting to see how he holds up.
Pick 7: Phoenix Suns (Phil): Larry Bird
Stats: 3x NBA Champion, 3x NBA MVP, 2x Finals MVP, 12x All-Star, 10x All-NBA, 3x All-Defensive, 1979-80 Roy, Hall of Fame
The desert air will do wonders for Larry Legend’s back issues so Phoenix is the perfect landing spot for the three-time champ. The hick from French Lick can turn his good ole’ Midwestern persona into a modern day Wild West cowboy. Like Val Kilmer in Tombstone, Bird has a chance to walk around town spouting non sequiturs, calling people a daisy, and shooting the shit out of everyone he sees.
Stats: 2x NBA Champion, 1x NBA MVP, 2x Finals MVP, 12x All-Star, 12x All-NBA, 9x All-Defensive, 2x DPOY, Hall of Fame
What better way to replace Kevin Garnett in Minnesota than a wholesale upgrade to Hakeem Olajuwon. The Dream is one of the most well-rounded players in the history of the NBA. He’s one of the best defensive players to ever do it, a two-time Defensive Player of the Year, and he had an array of post moves and made David Robinson his bitch in the 1995 Western Conference Finals. He’s the perfect player to build around and should give Wolves fans hope that John didn’t totally blow it for them already.
Pick 9: Philadelphia 76ers (Phil): Shaquille O’Neal
Stats: 4x NBA Champion, 1x NBA MVP, 3x Finals MVP, 15x All-Star, 14x All-NBA, 3x All-Defensive, 1992-93 ROY, 2x Scoring Champ, Hall of Fame
Uh oh, 76ers fans just turned on Ben Simmons for missing a shit ton of free throws in the playoffs, and here comes Shaq, a career 52.7 percent free throw shooter that drops to 50.4 percent in the playoffs. Hack-a-Shaq will be in full force in Philly, but who the hell cares he’s the most physically dominant player of the last 40 years. Shaq can bully any other center in the paint whether he’s in shape or not (lay off the cheesesteaks perhaps) and is a slam dunk pick at 9.
Pick 10: Houston Rockets (John): Tim Duncan
Stats: 5x NBA Champion, 2x NBA MVP, 3x Finals MVP, 15x All-Star, 15x All-NBA, 15x All-Defensive, 1997-98 ROY, Hall of Fame
Rounding out the top ten is the big fundamental himself Tim Duncan. TD presided over a dynasty in San Antonio, winning five championships from 1999 to 2014. He might not be the flashiest player ever, but Duncan got the job done and is arguably the greatest teammate since Bill Russell. He’s a steal with the tenth pick as any team built around Duncan will compete for a title for the next 15 years.
Pick 11: Boston Celtics (Phil): Kobe Bryant
Stats: 5x NBA Champion, 1x NBA MVP, 2x Finals MVP, 18x All-Star, 15x All-NBA, 12x All-Defensive, 2x Scoring Champ, Hall of Fame
I may never be able to show my face in Boston after taking Kobe Bryant with the 11th pick. Kobe might be on the Mount Rushmore of most hated players in Boston sports history. He beat the Celtics in 2010 to secure the fifth championship in his illustrious career. If the Celtics can get over the fact that he’s a lifetime Laker, they’ll instantly fall in love with his tenacity and drive to win, but it’s going to be hard to win over the Boston fans who love grit and grind stars like Dave Cowens and Kevin McHale above the flash and celebrity that Kobe brought back to the Lakers.
Pick 12: Detroit Pistons (John): Kevin Durant
Stats: 2x NBA Champion, 1x NBA MVP, 2x Finals MVP, 11x All-Star, 9x All-NBA, 4x Scoring Champ, 2007-08 ROY
Detroit and Durant seem like a perfect fit. Everyone hated the Bad Boy Pistons in the ’80s, and everyone kind of hates KD today. He seems to be a natural shit stirrer a la Isiah Thomas back in the day. This exercise is tailor made for Durant, he gets to play with other all-time greats and build a super team and if people don’t like it, who cares because it’s not real. But mega-draft Twitter is real and KD will be the villain from day one.
Pick 13: Washington Wizards (Phil): Oscar Robertson
Stats: 1x NBA Champion, 1x NBA MVP, 12x All-Star, 11x All-NBA, 1960-61 ROY, Hall of Fame
It’s interesting that Washington just got rid of the new king of the triple double in Russell Westbrook and are bringing in the original triple double king in Oscar Robertson. The Big O averaged 30.4 points, 10 rebounds, and 10.7 assists per game over the first six seasons of his career. He didn’t win a championship until 1971 when he finally teamed up with Kareem, but Oscar is the ultimate Swiss Army Knife and the perfect point guard to build around.
Pick 14: Memphis Grizzlies (John): Julius Erving
Stats: 1x NBA Champion, 2x ABA Champion, 1x NBA MVP, 3x ABA MVP, 11x NBA All-Star (5x ABA), 7x All-NBA, 5x All-ABA, Hall of Fame
Memphis seems to be a small market that is actually built for Dr. J. He refused to go to Milwaukee in 1972, but Memphis is a bit cooler, jazzier than Memphis which fits the mythos surrounding Julius Erving. Arguably the sexiest player that ever lived both on and off the court, and will bring his fluid above the rim style of play to Tennessee, the Grit and Grind Grizzlies they are not. This will be the early favorite for the League Pass team of the year.
Pick 15: Golden State Warriors (Phil): Steph Curry
Stats: 3x NBA Champion, 2x NBA MVP, 7x All-Star, 7x All-NBA, 2x Scoring Champ
Had to do it. Steph Curry is Mr. Bay Area, they love him there. We’re going to sell a million jerseys and this is the first team that is prioritizing three-point shooting. Curry is the greatest shooter in history and will drag out old guards to the tree-point line and make them pick him up as soon as he crosses mid-court. Bob Cousy, Isiah Thomas, John Stockton and others are going to have a hell of a time chasing him all around the court for 48 minutes.
Pick 16: Dallas Mavericks (John): Moses Malone
Stats: 1x NBA Champion, 3x NBA MVP, 1x Finals MVP, 12x NBA All-Star (1x ABA), 8x All-NBA, 2x All-Defensive, Hall of Fame
Moses brings the big beef to Dallas as the fifth best rebounder ever. A three-time MVP, Malone finally took the 76ers over the hump when he was traded to Philly in 1982 and led them to the 1983 title. He doesn’t have much of a mid-range game, but can hold his own in the paint against bigger centers like Shaq and Wilt. Moses might be the most underrated and forgotten about inner-circle Hall of Famers and getting him at 16 is an absolute steal.
Pick 17: Cleveland Cavaliers (Phil): Karl Malone
Stats: 2x NBA MVP, 14x All-Star, 14x All-NBA, 4x All-Defensive, Hall of Fame
After just missing out on Moses, the Cavs have to settle for the other Malone, Karl. The Mailman was no slouch scoring 36,928 points in his career, second all time to Kareem. He teamed up with John Stockton to make two-straight NBA Finals in 1997 and 1998. Unfortunately, they ran into the Jordan Bulls buzzsaw and never got over the hump. Malone will need a good running mate, but can lead his team deep into the playoffs.
Pick 18: Chicago Bulls (John): Jerry West
Stats: 1x NBA Champion, 1x Finals MVP, 14x All-Star, 12x All-NBA, 5x All-Defensive, 1x Scoring Champ, Hall of Fame
Jerry West was so good he once won Finals MVP in 1969 for the losing team. The fucking Logo was a next level scorer who could have scored 40 points per game if there was a three-point line in the ’60s. West made the All-Star team ever year of his career and was every bit the face of the league as Russell, Wilt, Oscar, and Elgin Baylor were. The Bulls won’t get their beloved Michael Jordan, but they get the original great two-way scoring guard in Jerry West.
Pick 19: Toronto Raptors (Phil): Kevin Garnett
Stats: 1x NBA Champion, 1x NBA MVP, 15x All-Star, 9x All-NBA, 12x All-Defensive, 1x DPOY, Hall of Fame
Kevin Garnett is an absolute psycho and my favorite athlete ever, so I had to take him in the top-20 and give him to the Raptors. It kind of mirrors real life when he was drafted by the Timberwolves in 1995. Toronto is a newer franchise with little history in its side other than the Kawhi championship in 2019. Now, Garnett has a chance to go to a lesser franchise once again and become the face of sports in the city and bring his tenacity to build a winner in the frozen tundra. KG might be the most versatile player in the last 25 years. A 6’11” center with guard handles who can knock down mid-range shots in his sleep and step out to three all while being one of the greatest defenders of his era. The man almost took 34-year-old Sam Cassell and Latrell Sprewell to a championship. If he can do that, he can win in Toronto with anyone.
Pick 20: Brooklyn Nets (John): David Robinson
Stats: 2x NBA Champion, 1x NBA MVP, 10x All-Star, 10x All-NBA, 8x All-Defensive, 1x DPOY, 1989-90 ROY, 1x Scoring Champ, Hall of Fame
The Admiral better hope The Wolves are eliminated so he doesn’t have to see Olajuwon again in the playoffs, because we all know how that goes. Other than being Hakeem’s bitch, Robinson was one of the most physically gifted centers ever. A chiseled 7’1″ Adonis, Robinson was a dominant scorer before Duncan got there as well as a shut down defensive center. He’s a good building block but the nets will need to pair him with another all-time great in order to compete in the East.
Pick 21: Sacramento Kings (Phil): Dirk Nowitzki
Stats: 1x NBA Champion, 1x NBA MVP, 1x Finals MVP, 14x All-Star, 12x All-NBA
Dirk was a one-man wrecking crew when he led the Mavericks to a title in 2011. He can do it all on offese. The best shooting big-man ever (not counting Karl-Anthony Towns yet) he patented the one leg fade away that became so lethal. He’s proven he can win a championship on his own, and he might need to do it again in Sacramento.
Pick 22: Los Angeles Clippers (John): Elgin Baylor
Stats: 11x All-Star, 10x All-NBA, 1958-59 ROY, Hall of Fame
Baylor is the first player to really normalize playing above the rim. At 6’5″, 225-pounds, Baylor was a physical freak for the ’60s and no one could stop him from scoring at the rim. He averaged 27.4 points and 13.5 rebounds per game in his career as a small forward, and famously went 0-7 in NBA finals. He retired after nine games in the 1971-72 season in which the Lakers went on the win the championship. It’s fitting he goes to the Clippers, because he absolutely destroyed the franchise as their executive from 1986-2008. Let him play, but dear god don’t let him anywhere near the draft.
Pick 23: Portland Trail Blazers (Phil): Charles Barkley
Stats: 1x NBA MVP, 11x All-Star, 11x All-NBA, Hall of Fame
Charles Barkley is bringing on a new era of the Jail Blazers and it will be spectacular. He is not a role model, but he’s going to be the face of Portland and the driving force to keep Portland weird. Barkley is arguably the best player ever to never win a championship thanks in large part to Michael Jordan, but he’s got a real shot to advance far in Portland, just keep him off the golf course and out of the casinos.
Most people nowadays remember D-Wade as Robin to LeBron’s Batman, the sidekick of the Heatles super team that won two titles and went to four-straight finals. We forget that young D-Wade put the Heat on his back and willed them to a championship in 2006. Yea he had Shaq, but Wade put in a finals for the ages and is a bonafide winner. The Hawks might be a dark horse, but don’w count out any team led by Flash.
Pick 25: Oklahoma City Thunder (Phil): John Havlicek
Stats: 8x NBA Champion, 1x Finals MVP, 13x All-Star, 11x All-NBA, 8x All-Defensive, Hall of Fame
Most of the seven people who actually read this are probably wondering the same thing, who the heck is John Havlicek? Bill Simmons is probably furious that Hondo didn’t go inside the top 15. Havlicek was one of the most well-rounded players of his time. A teammate of Bill Russell’s on the ’60s Celtics, Havlicek won eight championships. It might be a tough ask to have him be the face of a franchise, but Hondo is undoubtedly one of the greatest team players in NBA history.
Pick 26: Orlando Magic (John): Allen Iverson
Stats: 1x NBA MVP, 11x All-Star, 7x All-NBA, 4x Scoring Champ, 1996-97 ROY, Hall of Fame
Holy shit Allen Iverson at 26 is easily the reach of the draft so far. AI is a legend, don’t get me wrong, but are you really trying to build a team around him? I understand that he dragged Theo Ratlif and Eric Snow to the finals, but he didn’t do a ton of winning outside of that one MVP season. Hopefully John has a plan and surrounds Iverson with responsible teammates.
Kawhi is on pace to have the wonkiest resume of any top 30 players in the NBA. He was the 15th pick in 2011, slowly improved year-by-year to become a two-time Defensive Player of the Year and the 2014 Finals MVP with the Spurs. Then he sat out for almost a year while clashing with the Spurs staff about his foot injury. Then he got traded to Toronto, led them to a championship, and left after one season for the Clippers of all franchises. Now he has a chance to win three championships and three finals MVP’s with three different franchises. Only LeBron James has done that. A weird career for fun guy Kawhi.
Pick 28: New Orleans Pelicans (John): Isiah Thomas
Stats: 2x NBA Champion, 1x Finals MVP, 12x All-Star, 5x All-NBA, Hall of Fame
Dude’s probably reading this like “I met the qualifications to be drafted in the top 20, but they didn’t pick me.” Zeke is a top-five point guard ever, a good scorer and even better playmaker who can lead a team to the promised land as he did in back-to-back seasons with the Bad Boys. He just seems to rub people the wrong way and MJ will probably make it his personal mission to make sure Thomas doesn’t sniff the playoffs with the Pelicans.
Pick 29: New York Knicks (Phil): Giannis Antetokounmpo
Stats: 1x NBA Champion, 2x NBA MVP, 1x Finals MVP, 5x All-Star, 5x All-NBA, 4x All-Defensive, 1x DPOY
This pick is looking a lot better now that Giannis is a champion. He’s a modern day Shaq who can physically dominate the competition in the paint. Giannis has taken it to the next level and can handle the ball and drive to the basket. He’s a three-point shot away from becoming the greatest offensive weapon in history. Knicks fans are going to love him, I hope they have Chick-fil-A in NYC.
Pick 30: San Antonio Spurs (John): Chris Paul
Stats: 11x All-Star, 10x All-NBA, 9x All-Defensive, 2005-06 ROY
Again, this pick looks a lot better now that CP3 finally made the finals for the first time in his 16-year career. Paul might be a bitch of a teammate, but is arguably the best two-way point guard of the modern era. He should be a perfect fit for the Spurs way of life, and a solid pick to finish off round one of the mega-draft.
Round 2: The Quickening
Pick 31: San Antonio Spurs (John): Patrick Ewing
Stats: 11x All-Star, 7x All-NBA, 3x All-Defensive, 1985-86 ROY, Hall of Fame
Teammates: Chris Paul
Patrick Ewing is the ultimate “almost but not quite there” superstars in the NBA. He led the Knicks to the finals twice only to be thwarted by Hakeem’s Rockets in 1994 and injured against Duncan’s Spurs in the lockout-shortened 1999 season. It only fits all too well that he’s paired with Chris Paul, the other premier player in the last 25 years who has gotten so close but never won a championship. they should trade for Barkley.
Pick 32: New York Knicks (Phil): Steve Nash
Stats: 2x NBA MVP, 8x All-Star, 7x All-NBA, Hall of Fame
Teammates: Giannis Antetokounmpo
Steve Nash was one Robert Horry hip check away from a finals appearance in 2007, and never got another chance at a championship. He transformed Amar’e Stoudemire into an All-Pro player and would do wonders with Giannis catching lobs and running the pick-and-roll. The Knicks are back!
Pick 33: New Orleans Pelicans (John): Scottie Pippen
Stats: 6x NBA Champion, 7x All-Star, 7x All-NBA, 10x All-Defensive, Hall of Fame
Teammates: (Checks notes) Isiah Thomas
Who the fuck is putting Scottie Pippen on the same team as Isiah Thomas? Zeke is probably sitting in his mansion thinking that this is a betrayal on levels that no one has ever seen! There are going to be nightly brawls in the locker room. I know every hates IT, but Scottie Pippen mega hates IT and is not afraid to remind everyone.
Pick 34: Los Angeles Lakers (Phil): Kevin McHale
Stats: 3x NBA Champion, 7x All-Star, 1x All-NBA, 6x All-Defensive, Hall of Fame
Teammates: Kawhi Leonard
Now this is a team I can get behind. Kawhi can initiate the offense and create his own shot and Kevin McHale can do a lot of the dirty work down low. He’s one of the best post scorers we’ve seen and can hold his own alongside Kawhi on the defensive end. Very few holes in this team early on.
Remember when I said AI was a bad pick unless you surround him with responsible teammates? Yea, James Harden isn’t that kind of teammate, he’s basically beef stew Iverson with a beard. This team will never practice, never play defense, probably get on each other’s nerves, but this is the number one pick of strip clubs everywhere. I don’t know what the club scene is like in Orlando, but they’re about to make a lot of money.
Pick 36: Oklahoma City Thunder (Phil): Bob Pettit
Stats: 1x NBA Champion, 2x NBA MVP, 11x All-Star, 11x All-NBA, 1954-55 ROY, 2x Scoring Champ, Hall of Fame
Teammates: John Havlicek
This team would win 19 championships if it was 1966. Alas, it’s 2021 so Hondo and Bullet Bob’s achievements have wasted away like those people on an M. Night Shymalan beach, but they’re two of the greatest to ever do it. Pettit made an All-NBA team every year of his career.
Pick 37: Atlanta Hawks (John): Anthony Davis
Stats: 1x NBA Champion, 8x All-Star, 4x All-NBA, 4x All-Defensive
Teammates: Dwyane Wade
John finally got his head out of his ass and made a good pick in the second round. AD is the perfect big to play alongside D-Wade. He dominated the Heat on his way to a championship with the Lakers and LeBron James in the bubble, and will form a formidable two-way duo with Wade.
Pick 38: Portland Trail Blazers (Phil): Bill Walton
Stats: 2x NBA Champion, 1x NBA MVP, 1x Finals MVP, 2x All-Star, 2x All-NBA, 2x All-Defensive, Hall of Fame
Teammates: Charles Barkley
The prodigal son returns 44 years after leading the Blazers to a championship in 1977. A foot injury wreck Walton’s career, but the biggest Dead Head on national television was one of the best centers in history during his short prime. He’s so high right now he probably thinks it’s still 1978, and is definitely going to keep Portland weird.
Pick 39: Los Angeles Clippers (John): George Mikan
Stats: 5x BAA/NBA Champion, 4x All-Star, 6x All-BAA/NBA, 3x Scoring Champ, Hall of Fame
Teammates: Elgin Baylor
Teaming the original GOAT with Elgin Baylor would be unstoppable in 1956. Mikan might have trouble matching up against the likes up Wilt and Shaq, but his fundamentals are unmatched and will bring a winning quality to this throwback team.
Pick 40: Sacramento Kings (Phil): Jason Kidd
Stats: 1x NBA Champion, 10x All-Star, 6x All-NBA, 9x All-Defensive, 1994-95 ROY, Hall of Fame
Teammates: Dirk Nowitzki
Jason Kidd won a championship with Dirk in 2011 so why not run it back. Kidd was one of the most versatile point guards in league history and will be the exact opposite of what the Kings have gotten used to over the last two decades. We’ll have to make sure he isn’t allowed to drink soda on the sidelines though.
Pick 41: Brooklyn Nets (John): John Stockton
Stats: 10x All-Star, 11x All-NBA, 5x All-Defensive, All-Time Leader in Assists, Hall of Fame
Teammates: David Robinson
This will be the least vaxxed team in the league. John Stockton was part of one of the most dynamic duos in the ’90s with Karl Malone, and has formed another dynamic duo post career teaming up with conspiracy theories. Stockton will not have many fans in Brooklyn.
Pick 42: Toronto Raptors (Phil): Ray Allen
Stats: 2x NBA Champion, 10x All-Star, 2x All-NBA, Hall of Fame
Teammates: Kevin Garnett
The biggest “what if” in Timberwolves history is finally answered by pairing KG with Ray Allen, just as god intended. The Wolves picked Allen with the fifth pick in the 1996 NBA Draft only to trade him to the Milwaukee Bucks for the fourth pick, Stephon Marbury. Marbury was a star alongside KG, but forced his way out of Minnesota after just 2.5 years. Ray Allen is one of the greatest shooting guards of all time and finally teamed up with Garnett in 2007 in Boston where the two won a championship and played in two NBA Finals. Oh, what could have been if they had been able to team up in Minnesota for a decade in the prime of their careers. Could they have won a championship? Possibly, KG took the Wolves to the Western Conference Finals in 2004 and was a Sam Cassell hip injury away from taking down the Lakers. Allen led the Bucks to an improbable run the the Eastern Conference Finals in 2001. It still haunts me to this day. I need answers, and that’s why I finally did it. Lets finally see what you could have done together.
Pick 43: Chicago Bulls (John): Bob Cousy
Stats: 6x NBA Champion, 1x NBA MVP, 13x All-Star, 12x All-NBA, Hall of Fame
Teammates: Jerry West
Jerry West and Bob Cousy would be your dad’s favorite team. Cousy was a baller even before teaming up with Bill Russell, and he can run the show while West racks up the points.
Pick 44: Cleveland Cavaliers (Phil): Walt Frazier
Stats: 2x NBA Champion, 7x All-Star, 6x All-NBA, 7x All Defensive, Hall of Fame
Teammates: Karl Malone
Walt Frazier might be one of the most underrated players from the ’70s but he led the Knicks to glory twice and is an NYC legend on par with Joe Namath. He’d pair well with Karl Malone and bring some glitz and glam to Cleveland.
Pick 45: Dallas Mavericks (John): Elvin Hayes
Stats: 1x NBA Champion, 12x All-Star, 6x All-NBA, 2x All-Defensive, 1x Scoring Champ, Hall of Fame
Teammates: Moses Malone
The beef boys are ready to grab every rebound in Dallas. Malone is third all-time in rebounds and Elvin Hayes is sixth. The lane is gonna be clogged, but no frontline will be able to matchup with this duo.
Pick 46: Golden State Warriors (Phil): Rick Barry
Stats: 1x NBA Champion, 1x Finals MVP, 8x NBA All-Star (4x ABA), 6x All NBA, 4x All-ABA, 1965-66 ROY, 1x Scoring Champ, Hall of Fame
Teammates: Steph Curry
If Steph Curry is the most beloved player in Warriors history, Rick Barry might be the most reviled. Barry was an asshole, but god dammit he could score. One of the best scoring forwards ever he led the Warriors to a championship in 1975. Fans will hate him (and his kids) but he and Steph would be unstoppable.
Pick 47: Memphis Grizzlies (John): Reggie Miller
Stats: 5x All-Star, 3x All-NBA, Hall of Fame
Teammates: Julius Erving
Memphis may have just skyrocketed towards the top of the League Pass rankings with this pick. Reggie Miller is one of the most fun players to love, and even more fun to hate.
Pick 48: Washington Wizards (Phil): George Gervin
Stats: 9x NBA All-Star (3x ABA), 7x All-NBA, 2x All-ABA, 4x Scoring Champ, Hall of Fame
Teammates: Oscar Robertson
The Iceman might not be the best fit alongside a high usage point guard in Oscar, but they will be one of the hardest backcourts to defend. The two Hall of Famers could each go off for 50 on any given night. The defense might not be amazing, but Gervin will sell tickets.
Pick 49: Detroit Pistons (John): Willis Reed
Stats: 2x NBA Champion, 1x NBA MVP, 2x Finals MVP, 7x All-Star, 5x All-NBA, 1x All-Defensive, 1964-65 ROY, Hall of Fame
Teammates: Kevin Durant
Willis Reed seems like a perfect fit in Detroit. He’s tough, plays hurt in game 7, and sounds like he should have been a Motown star. Reed’s motor and Durant’s scoring prowess will do damage and could be the perfect mid-pick pairing at 12 and 49 respectively.
Pick 50: Boston Celtics (Phil): Dominique Wilkins
Stats: 9x All-Star, 7x All-NBA, 1x Scoring Champ, Hall of Fame
Teammates: Kobe Bryant
Holy shit the Celtics just became the most exciting team ever assembled with Dominique and Kobe. Two of the best dunkers ever, the days of team play and fundamentals are over in Boston. Yes, Wilkins never won in the NBA and never got out of the second round, but that’s why you pair him with one of the best winners ever. Dominique can just run around and dunk on everyone for three quarters and then get the fuck out of Kobe’s way in the fourth. Boston might not be the best team out there, but dammit it’s going to be everyone’s favorite.
Pick 51: Houston Rockets (John): Tracy McGrady
Stats: 7x All-Star, 7x All-NBA, 2x Scoring Champ, Hall of Fame
Teammates: Tim Duncan
TMac returns to Houston to team up with Houston’s tormentor for 20 years in Tim Duncan. He’s the Riggs to Duncan’s Murtaugh.
Pick 52: Philadelphia 76ers (Phil): Paul Pierce
Stats: 1x NBA Champion, 1x Finals MVP, 10x All-Star, 4x All-NBA, Hall of Fame
Teammates: Shaquille O’Neal
Pierce is going to shit his pants the first time the 76ers fans boo him for only scoring 19 points in a big game. Hack-a-Shaq will be in full effect after watching Ben Simmons’ free throw meltdown in the playoffs last year. Things could get flushed down the toilet quickly in Philly.
Pick 53: Minnesota Timberwolves (John): Gary Payton
Stats: 1x NBA Champion, 9x All-Star, 9x All-NBA, 9x All-Defensive, 1x DPOY, Hall of Fame
Teammates: Hakeem Olajuwon
GP made the finals with Shawn Kemp in 1996. Olajuwon is a 5000% upgrade over Kemp, and should be able to take Payton to the promised land. This is the best defensive team in the league already and will play scrappy. David Robinson is going to have nightmares about this team.
Larry bird is going to throw hands with Westbrook the first time Russ dribbles up the court and takes a pull up three late in the shot clock without passing to anyone.
Pick 55: Milwaukee Bucks (John): Clyde Drexler
Stats: 1x NBA Champion, 10x All-Star, 5x All-NBA, Hall of Fame
Teammates: Wilt Chamberlain
This is a wonky fit in Milwaukee. Wilt is going to be distracted by the bustling Wisconsin nightlife so Drexler will have to carry the load day to day. The last pro player selected to the dream team could feel another slight falling to the 55th pick and work up a dark-horse MVP season.
Pick 56: Charlotte Hornets (Phil): James Worthy
Stats: 3x NBA Champion, 1x Finals MVP, 7x All-Star, 2x All-NBA, Hall of Fame
Teammates: Bill Russell
Two of the greatest winners ever form an interesting foundation to a team that might not be flashy but will do the little things to get the job done.
Pick 57: Utah Jazz (John): Bob McAdoo
Stats: 2x NBA Champion, 1x NBA MVP, 5x All-Star, 2x All-NBA, 1972-73 ROY, 3x Scoring Champ, Hall of Fame
Teammates: Magic Johnson
McAdoo has some big shoes to fill as he takes Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s spot as Magic’s running-mate. McAdoo is no Kareem, but was a dominate center in his own right in the ’70s.
Pick 58: Denver Nuggets (Phil): Alonzo Mourning
Stats: 1x NBA Champion, 7x All-Star, 2x All-NBA, 2x All-Defensive, 2x DPOY, Hall of Fame
Teammates: LeBron James
If he had two good kidneys, Alonzo Mourning would be 10-20 spots higher in this draft. After Shaq, Olajuwon, David Robinson, and Ewing; Mourning was probably the next best center during the heyday in the ’90s. He and LeBron create one of the most imposing frontlines in the league and will be nearly impossible to score on.
Pick 59: Miami Heat (John): Dennis Johnson
Stats: 3x NBA Champion, 1x Finals MVP, 5x All-Star, 2x All-NBA, 9x All-Defensive, Hall of Fame
Teammates: Kareem Abdul-Jabbar
Kareem gets the defensive-minded point guard who guided the Sonics to a championship before two championship runs with Larry Bird and the gang in Boston in the ’80s. John could have had DJ in the third round, but you can’t fault him for taking the three-time champ.
Pick 60: Indiana Pacers (Phil): Robert Parish
Stats: 4x NBA Champion, 9x All-Star, 2x All-NBA, Hall of Fame
Teammates: Michael Jordan
MJ gets his former teammate (Yea Parish finished his long career in Chicago) for another run at a title together. Parish is almost underrated because of his longevity and being overshadowed by Larry Bird and Kevin McHale, but he is one of the best centers ever and will pair beautifully with Jordan. What a steal with the last pick of the second round.
History remembers the greats. Great warriors, kings and queens, great writers and scientists, and even great athletes. Of those great athletes, only one ever graced the Minnesota Timberwolves with his presence (that would be Kevin Garnett). Garnett is the only great player in Wolves history while there are a few (and only a few) other notables (Kevin Love, Karl-Anthony Towns, and a guy named Pooh). Most of the players who suited up for the worst franchise in NBA history have been really, really, really bad and that’s saying something (one of their best guys goes by Pooh). Of those bad players I sifted through the shit and found the ten worst players that ever played for the Minnesota Timberwolves.
The only criteria I had was that each player had to have played at least 50 games in a Timberwolves jersey, and at least 100 games in their NBA careers. That criteria is why you won’t see many players from the last few years on this list because they haven’t played enough games. The other big omission due to the games played criteria is one Ndudi Ebi who only played 19 games in his NBA career. Ok lets just get through this so I can forget about these guys as fast as possible.
10. Anthony Bennett
NBA Stats: 151 games 4.4 ppg 3.1 rpg 0.5 apg 39.2 FG% 10.2 PER Timberwolves Stats: 57 games 5.2 ppg 3.8 rpg 0.8 apg 42.1 FG% 11.4 PER
Anthony Bennett is by far the worst number one draft pick in the history of the NBA. You can’t really blame him as he was never supposed to go first overall. In 2013 most experts had him between 4th and 10th, but the Cavs surprised everyone and took Bennett. He never escaped the expectations that follow a top pick and failed to produce for the Cavs in his rookie year. He was quietly part of the trade that sent Andrew Wiggins to Minnesota and Kevin Love to Cleveland. With the Timberwolves Bennett showed little to no improvement and was only valued as another big body. If he would have been picked 10th overall in 2013 Bennett could have had a decent career as a role player but the stigma of being a huge bust was too much and Bennett has been out of the league since 2017.
9. Reggie Jordan
NBA Stats: 186 games 2.7 ppg 1.8 rpg 1 apg 43.3 FG% 14.1 PER Timberwolves Stats: 94 games 2.3 ppg 1.7 rpg 1 apg 43.5 FG% 13.7 PER
Reggie Jordan just never really got much run in the NBA. He averaged nine minutes a game and didn’t do much in the playing time he got. Jordan was slightly more efficient than some of the other guys on this list, but he has been utterly forgotten since he finished his career in 2000.
8. Adreian Payne
NBA Stats: 107 games 4 ppg 2.9 rpg 0.6 apg 40.6 FG% 8.0 PER Timberwolves Stats: 99 games 4.1 ppg 3.1 rpg 0.7 apg 40 FG% 7.7 PER
I’m pretty sure Jim Petersen though Payne was the second coming of Kevin Garnett. If you just listened to the Wolves broadcasts during Paynes tenure you would think Payne was some great talent who never got a chance to show off his other-worldly talent. That wasn’t exactly the case. Watching him play was like watching a 78 year old Al Jefferson. Payne is 6’10” and could only manage to shoot 40% in his career. He’s the ultimate bench player for the latest iteration of the Wolves, put up meaningless numbers but add nothing of substance to make the team any better from 2014-17.
7. Justin Reed
NBA Stats: 136 games 3.5 ppg 1.4 rpg 0.5 apg 40.4 FG% 8 PER Timberwolves Stats: 81 games 4.4 ppg 1.7 rpg 0.6 apg 40.9 FG% 8.7 PPG
I don’t fucking remember Justin Reed at all.
6. Stojko Vrankovic
NBA Stats: 170 games 2.8 ppg 3 rpg 0.3 apg 47.7 FG% 9.7 PER Timberwolves Stats: 53 games 3.4 ppg 3.2 rpg 0.3 apg 56.1 FG% 10.1 PER
Vrankovic played for the Wolves during the 1996-97 season and was a 7’2″ rim protector. He only played 12 minutes a game in his career but still managed to to average 1.1 blocks off the bench. He spent 4 years in-between playing with the Celtics and Timberwolves playing in Greece. Vrankovic is much more successful since he retired from the NBA and is now the President of the Croatian Basketball Federation.
5. Loren Woods
NBA Stats: 215 games 2.6 ppg 3.2 rpg 0.3 apg 41.9 FG% 11.2 PER Timberwolves Stats: 98 games 1.9 ppg 2.2 rpg 0.4 apg 36 FG% 9.9 PER
Woods was drafted s possibly the poor man’s Kevin Garnett and just became a poor man’ basketball player. At 7’1″ Woods couldn’t even shoot 42 percent from the field. Dude you’re huge as fuck just bulldoze some fools to the hoop and score at will. Apparently that wasn’t in Loren’s DNA. He might be the softest player I’ve ever seen play live, and I played with my brother. Woods had zero athleticism and played with a motor that could power those coin operated rocket ships in the mall food court. He only played for the Wolves for two seasons (’01-03) and was somehow worse than the rest of his illustrious NBA career. Loren Woods is probably the most disappointed I’ve been in a late round draft pick in the history of my sad, pathetic life.
4. Lance Blanks
NBA Stats: 142 games 2 ppg 0.8 rpg 0.8 apg 43.6 FG% 8.8 PER Timberwolves Stats: 61 games 2.6 ppg 1.1 rpg 1.2 apg 43.3 FG% 8.4 PER
Picked just ahead of serviceable big man Elden Campbell and three-time champ Toni Kukoc, Blanks only lasted three years in the NBA. Blanks played in all of one playoff game in his illustrious career, scoring two points, and it wasn’t even for the Wolves. Since leaving the NBA (a nice way of saying nobody wanted him) Blanks stayed associated with the NBA working as the assistant GM of the Cavs before he became the GM of the Suns from 2010-2013.
3. Sidney Lowe
NBA Stats: 293 games 2.9 ppg 1.7 rpg 3.9 apg 36.7 FG% 10.4 PER Timberwolves Stats: 80 games 2.3 ppg 2 rpg 4.2 apg 31.9 FG% 8.7 PER
Somehow he was a better coach than player and he was 79-228 as a coach. Lowe backed up a guy named Pooh for his the inaugural Wolves season and played like it. Minnesota was so bad in its first season Sidney Lowe somehow started 38 games. Lowe has spent most of his post playing days right where he belongs, as an assistant coach of a usually bad team.
2. Mark Madsen
NBA Stats: 453 games 2.2 ppg 2.6 rpg 0.4 apg 45.7 FG% 8.1 PER Timberwolves Stats: 270 games 1.8 ppg 2.5 rpg 0.3 apg 46.4 FG% 6.6 PER
The KEY to two Lakers championships Mark Madsen is in the pantheon of weird white dudes who can’t dance. Madsen is the epitome of big body off the bench to grab two rebounds and get a couple of fouls. He played for the Wolves for six seasons from 2003-2009 and racked up a whopping 497 points…and 535 fouls. The only reason he was in the league was because he was 6’9″ 240 pounds. Madsen was somehow on the best Wolves team in 2003-04. He was a horrible basketball player who somehow played the most games of anyone on this list, probably because he’s the most lovable guy on the list. Even Shaq loved Madsen, that counts for something. He’s number two on the list, but number one in my heart.
1. William Avery
NBA/Timberwolves Stats: 142 games 2.7 ppg 0.7 rpg 1.4 apg 33.0 FG% 7.3 PER
Avery was picked to be the heir apparent to Terrell Brandon, instead he became just another Duke hack who couldn’t make it in the NBA. Avery is the rare lottery pick who only played three seasons in the NBA. He could never adjust to athleticism of the NBA after he shot 46 percent in college, Avery could only muster 33 percent in the pros. He is the highest draft pick on this list, making him the worst and one of the most disappointing picks in Wolves history (behind Wes Johnson, Derrick Williams, and anyone David Kahn picked ahead of Steph Curry). Avery had a forgettable career, but will now always be remembered as the worst Timberwolf of all-time.
In more than 30 years as the laughing stock of the NBA, the Wolves have had one great player, a few decent ones, 50 feet of shit, and then there’s these guys who I just listed.
For the first time since I was 13 years old the Minnesota Timberwolves are headed to the playoffs. That long gap spanning half my life sucked since I grew up in the Kevin Garnett era and watched the Timberwolves make the playoffs eight straight years from 1996-97 to 2003-04. I thought that as long as Garnett was on the team they would be contenders forever. But those dreams came crashing down as they missed the playoffs the season after making it to the Western Conference Finals. After that they traded the greatest player in franchise history for Al Jefferson and a bunch of nobodies. That’s when I figured out it was time for a rebuild, but I had no idea that rebuild would take well over a decade to complete.
The one thing that comes to mind during 14 years between playoff appearances, other than god awful basketball, was really crappy drafts. I always got excited for the drafts, especially when the Wolves had high picks, because it meant a new era could possibly start. They had some seemingly nice drafts from 2006-2008 drafting Brandon Roy, but trading him for Randy Foye in 2006, drafting Corey Brewer in 2007, and taking O.J. Mayo, but flipping him for Kevin Love in 2008. Put those guys together with young star Al Jefferson, and you would have thought the Wolves were on a decent track. Both Foye and Brewer had a few mediocre years before departing, but Kevin Love turned into a star and future building block. Then the most infamous draft in recent history happened. Minnesota had three first round picks in the 2009 draft. Seemingly ready to add some major talent to its team, David Kahn made what will go down as one of the biggest draft day blunders of all time. He chose Spanish phenom Ricky Rubio with the 5th pick, then turned around and took another point guard, Jonny Flynn with the 6th pick (and a third point guard, Ty Lawson with the 18th pick). It seemed like a huge draft at the time. Rubio and Kevin love could be the dynamic duo that the Wolves needed to get back to prominence, while Flynn and others could form a solid supporting cast. But there was one name in the draft that will forever be linked to the Wolves futility in the 2000s, that being Steph Curry. The NCAA tournament darling out of Davidson wasn’t supposed to be a great all around player. He might provide some shooting help, but couldn’t be a point guard and run a team is what scouts said before the draft. As we all know Curry went on to win two straight MVP awards and lead the Golden State Warriors to two NBA Championships in the past three years, while becoming one of the biggest superstars of this generation. The Wolves had two chances to nab the five time all-star, but instead got a huge bust in Flynn, and had to wait two years for Rubio to come from Spain and become a slightly above average NBA player. That draft alone set the franchise back several years. Minnesota had a string of first round busts in the years afterwards. They picked Wes Johnson fourth overall in 2010, Derrick Williams second in 2011, and traded Trey Burke for Shabazz Muhammad in 2013. Minnesota struck out in the draft more times than any other franchise, and I began to think we would never had another superstar again. Finally some hope emerged when The Wolves traded disgruntled star Kevin love to Cleveland for their two straight number one overall picks (Anthony Bennett from the 2013 draft, and Andrew Wiggins from the 2014 draft). This excited me as Wiggins was dubbed Maple Jordan and was one of the most highly anticipated phenoms in recent years (we all knew Bennett was terrible already).
Another major reason for the decade and a half long struggle was the absolute inability to find a decent coach. After the conference finals run in 2004, Flip Saunders returned with largely the same team. After going just 25-26 through the first 51 games, he was fired and replaced by executive turned coach Kevin McHale, who for his efforts went 19-12 down the stretch, albeit failing to make the playoffs. Dwane Casey stepped in the next season going 33-49. The Current Toronto Raptors head coach actually had the Wolves off to a decent start in the 2006-07 season, but was fired to give Randy Whittman a crack at the position. The Wolves finished an abysmal 12-30 under Whittman to close out the season 32-50. He was back again next year and somehow got worse as the Wolves went 22-60 in his only full season. He only got 19 games of the 2008-09 season before enough was enough. He went 4-15 and was replaced by McHale again, who guided the team to another terrible 24-58 record. Then there was hope for the 2009-10 season, and hopes name was Kurt Rambis. Rambis was a hot commodity in the coaching world having been an assistant for the Lakers for four championships, including the previous season. That hope fizzled quickly as he amassed an amazingly bad 32-132 record over two season and was fired. After that even more hope for the franchise came in it’s next coach, Rick Adelman. Adelman was one of the greatest coaches in NBA history when he took over the struggling Timberwolves. He made his name guiding the early 90’s Trail Blazer squads to perennial playoff appearances, and did the same with the Chris Webber led Sacramento Kings teams of the early 2000’s. Most Timberwolves fans, including myself figured he would be the one to get us back to the playoffs. While he may have had the best run for a Timberwolves coach since Flip Saunders, it wasn’t enough to get into the playoffs. Minnesota won 26, 31, and 40 games in Adelman’s tenure thanks to the rise of Kevin love, and he was fired after three seasons. The white night of the franchise, Flip Saunders returned for another go with the Wolves, taking up a position as head coach after already becoming the President of Basketball Operations the previous year. Minnesota bottomed out at 16-66 that year but thankfully got the first overall pick.
For the first time in franchise history the Timberwolves were awarded the number one overall pick in the 2015 draft. After some debate over who to pick it became obvious that Kentucky big man Karl-Anthony Towns was the selection. They took Towns and planned to start him slow, but after putting up rookie numbers not seen since Tim Duncan, Wolves fans finally had some hope for the future. Tragically Flip Saunders passed away in October 2015, just before the season began. Sam Mitchell took over, guiding the young Wolves through some growing pains to a 29-53 record. Another turning point came that offseason when former Chicago Bulls head man Tom Thibodeau was hired as the head coach. Thibs led the Bulls to the playoffs in all five years he was there. Finally the Wolves had a blueprint for success. After they only managed 31 wins in the 2016-17 season though, enough was enough and it was time for the Timberwolves to make their biggest splash since trading away Kevin Garnett ten years prior.
The 2017 NBA draft was huge for the franchise not because of who they picked, but a blockbuster trade that changed the entire landscape of the league. The Wolves traded Kris Dunn, Zach Lavine, and the 7th overall pick (that would become Lauri Markkanen) for Butler, and the 16th overall pick (Justin Patton). Butler was a three time all-star, and one of the league’s top two way players. The excitement around the team was the highest since playing the Lakers in the 2004 Wester Conference Finals. With Butler, Wiggins, Towns and later additions of Jeff Teague, Taj Gibson, and Jamal Crawford, the playoffs were finally in sight.
Many thought the Wolves could compete in the West right away. They were chosen to be the fourth or fifth best team in the conference by many experts. They started to look the part right away, reaching as high as the three seed in the West. But Butler injured his knee, and the Wolves sputtered without him going 8-9 in his absence. Luckily he came back just in time to lead Minnesota into the playoffs with an overtime win against Denver in the regular season finale, in which Butler scored 30 points with five assists and five rebounds. The 8th seed isn’t glamorous, and isn’t quite where hopeful Wolves fans saw this team ending the regular season, but a playoff berth is a playoff berth in the eyes of fans waiting a generation for their team to get back in the postseason.
Now hopefully they don’t get embarrassed by the Rockets in round one. My prediction: Wolves steal a home game, but the Rockets blow them out for three of their four wins and take the series in five games.