And then we noticed that Nikola Mirotic had another monster game for the Bulls — 26 points and eight rebounds in a big win over Oklahoma City — and we had to fall down the rabbit hole that is the 2011 draft and re-explore, albeit briefly, just how damaging one night was to the Wolves.
I was at Target Center, in the media room, that night, as the Wolves and David Kahn traded pick after pick after pick. Here is a summary of that night, from NBA.com:
In addition to taking Derrick Williams with the No. 2 pick, Minnesota …
-The Wolves traded point guard Jonny Flynn, a future second-round pick and the 20th pick – Donatas Motiejunas – to Houston for center Brad Miller, the draft rights to No. 23 pick Nikola Mirotic and No. 38 Chandler Parsons and a future first-round pick.
-Traded Mirotic to the Chicago Bulls for the draft rights to No. 28 Norris Cole and No. 43 Malcolm Lee and cash.
-Traded Cole to the Miami Heat for No. 31 Bojan Bogdanovic, a future second-round pick and cash.
-Traded Bogdanovic to New Jersey for a future second-round pick and cash.
-Traded Parsons back to Houston for cash.
In a lot of cases, No. 2 picks become good or great NBA players. That did not happen with Williams in Minnesota, of course, as he was dispatched last season in exchange for Luc Mbah a Moute.
That was a big miss. The top of that draft, after Kyrie Irving, was a crap shoot. Williams was the consensus right pick, and he didn’t work out. There were players taken immediately after him who have become productive (but not great) players. Klay Thompson at No. 11 has become great, but that would have been a huge stretch. So the Wolves can be forgiven, but it still hurts.
What hurts more, though, is the strange run of just how good all the players they gave away after that have become. It’s odd for No. 20, No. 23, No. 28 and No. 38 picks to do what they have done. But …
*Motiejunas has developed into a regular for the Rockets, averaging 11 points this season in 28 minutes per game.
*Mirotic has at least 23 points in each of his past three games and seems to be blossoming into a very good player for the Bulls.
*Cole is a quick and functional backup point guard who was in the regular rotation for the Heat’s championship contending teams.
*Parsons is a very good shooter and all-around player who is averaging close to 15 ppg in his career.
That 2011 draft has looked bad for a while. The emergence of Mirotic only makes it even worse. The Wolves made plenty of personnel blunders during the Kahn Era, so it’s hard to say one night hurt more than any other. But June 23, 2011 … that ranks right up there with the worst.