The Wolves have made a habit of draft disasters

  • Article by: PATRICK REUSSE , Star Tribune
  • Updated: June 25, 2008 - 4:07 PM

In opportunity after opportunity to make a smart or not-so-smart selection, you know which way they've usually gone.

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Kevin Garnett has the distinction of being the only Wolves first-round pick that clearly proved to be the correct player to take at that spot.

Photo: Carlos Gonzalez, Star Tribune

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Bob Stein was the first president of the Timberwolves and proudly declared that draft decisions would be made by consensus. There would be input from personnel director Billy McKinney and coach Bill Musselman. If they couldn't agree, Stein would break the tie.

The Wolves had the 10th selection in the 1989 draft. The internal debate centered on point guards Pooh Richardson, Mookie Blaylock and Tim Hardaway.

McKinney wanted Richardson. Musselman preferred Hardaway. The Wolves selected Pooh. Blaylock, the 12th selection, and Hardaway, the 14th, would have superior NBA careers.

The Richardson selection does not rate among the Wolves' all-time draft blunders. What it does, though, is remind us that this team's richest tradition -- almost always coming out of the first round of the NBA draft with the wrong player -- started from Day One.

The Wolves have made 17 first-round selections in their previous 19 drafts. They had two first-rounders in 1990 and 1999, traded the No. 1 in 2000 and lost their No. 1s in 2001, '02 and '04 because of the Joe Smith fiasco.

The track record is amazing: 17 tries in the first round and only once -- with No. 5 pick Kevin Garnett in 1995 -- did the Wolves absolutely choose the right player.

On two other occasions, they selected the right player, and then traded him before the draft was over: 1996 -- draft Ray Allen, trade for Stephon Marbury; 2006 -- draft Brandon Roy, trade for Randy Foye.

It took a few years for the NBA to figure out Allen was a better player than Marbury. It took a few games of their rookie season to figure out Roy was a star and Foye was nothing special.

This decision will get some further attention as we rate a dozen Wolves' disasters in previous first rounds. We'll start with bad and work our way to the NBA's netherworld:

12 -- Taking Wally Szczerbiak (6th overall, 1999). You look back on Wally as astute, eh? The next two selections were Rip Hamilton and Andre Miller.

11 -- Rashad McCants (14th, 2005). The Wolves vacillated between McCants and Danny Granger (17th to Indiana). They wound up being wrong, of course.

10 -- Gerald Glass (20th, 1990). The coach, Bill Musselman, was told to play this low-energy rookie or risk getting fired. He chose the second option.

9 -- Corey Brewer (7th, 2007). Recently lost in golf to sportswriter Mike Rand on startribune.com. Rand denies Brewer chose to take him on in golf rather than risk a loss in H-O-R-S-E.

8 --Luc Longley (7th, 1991). The reason it was so pathetic to take a low-impact center with the seventh overall choice in '91 was that it came after using the sixth overall choice on another low-impact center (Felton Spencer) in '90.

7 -- Christian Laettner (3rd, 1992). There are plenty of reasons to hate Duke basketball, and this guy is in a dead heat for first with Coach Snivel and Jay Bilas. Plus, fourth pick Jim Jackson was a better NBA player.

6 -- Donyell Marshall (4th, 1994). Spent more time working on his Nintendo skills than basketball during his brief stay in Minnesota. The Wolves bailed early on Fast Fingers, sending him to Golden State for Tom Gugliotta in February 1995.

5 -- William Avery (20th, 1999). This would prove to be the Wolves' final first-rounder until the 2003 draft. And Kevin McHale used it on a Duke point guard who was slow and couldn't shoot.

4 -- Paul Grant (20th, 1997). Who could have guessed there was concrete in those red Wisconsin sneakers? There were three Jacksons -- Bobby, Marc and Stephen -- taken after Grant who had much more to offer.

3 -- Randy Foye (7th, 2006). It's not all Foye's fault he's so high on the list of disasters. It's that McHale took Brandon Roy with the sixth pick, then sent him to Portland for Foye in a prearranged deal.

2 -- Ndudi Ebi (26th, 2003). This was the Wolves' first first-rounder in four years. McHale bounced back from the layoff to reach for a high school player who couldn't have started for Minneapolis Community College. Also: The three first-rounders after Ebi were Kendrick Perkins, Leandro Barbosa and Josh Howard.

1 -- Isaiah Rider Jr. (5th, 1993). When everything he's done in college suggests a guy is a sociopath, and then you take him anyway, not even Ebi the Regrettable can wrestle away the WWE (Wolves Worst Ever) title from Rider.

Patrick Reusse can be heard weekdays on AM-1500 KSTP at 6:45 and 7:45 a.m. and 4:40 p.m. • preusse@startribune.com

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