The Wolves won on Saturday, stirring up that age-old debate between the most competitive among us: Is it good to win?
Of course it is. This article is over.
(White space ensues. I get reprimanded by my boss.)
OK, let’s continue. Of course it’s good to win. But there is still a debate going on between certain factions of Timberwolves fans (as evidenced by three sellouts in five Target Center games since Kevin Garnett returned, they are lurking and ready to watch if given reasons to do so).
It’s an almost yearly debate, since the Wolves have found themselves at the bottom of the standings (and near the top of the lottery) in so many seasons since KG left. But it’s picking up intensity this year because the Wolves are much more competent in recent weeks than they were for many months.
Is winning in the midst of a losing season — and thereby potentially jeopardizing draft position — a good thing? More specifically to right now, is it worth giving heavy minutes to a veteran like Gary Neal, who might not be here next season but without whom the Wolves probably wouldn’t have won Saturday against Portland?
This is the point where even the most competitive among us can tilt our heads and get seduced by the logic of losing. If you’re going to be bad, why not go all out?
And after briefly entertaining that notion, the most competitive among us will snap back to reality and remember that such a way of thinking is foolish nonsense. It’s good to develop players, which the Wolves have certainly done this season. But it is never good to lose.
There is no substitute for Andrew Wiggins, Zach LaVine and Co. playing in close games with competent teammates. And there is no guarantee of what the future will bring even if you try to manipulate it by losing in the present.
The Wolves have the third-worst record in the NBA. Even if they keep daring to try to win, they probably won’t climb any higher than fourth-worst. The 2015 draft features some tantalizing players who would fit in nicely here, and the Wolves in all likelihood will get one of those players.
But the team with the worst record in the NBA has received the top pick in the draft through the lottery only four times in the past 30 years. And recently, choosing high up in the draft hasn’t guaranteed success.
In a 10-year span from 2003-12, 16 different players picked 1-4 became All-Stars … and 15 different players picked 5-10 became All-Stars … and 15 players picked No. 11 or later became All-Stars.
The key isn’t to rig the odds in your favor by losing. The keys are to win when you can, hope you get lucky and always draft wisely.