While fans around the country eagerly anticipated Thursday's NBA draft, it's amazing to think that at one point the league was in such low standing that they had to alter the draft so local star college players were basically forced to play for their hometown NBA squads.

The territorial picks rule, which was in effect from 1950-1966, was that any NBA team that had a college player from their state in the draft was given the option of selecting them first.

This wasn't some minor rule, either. There were 23 territorial picks made, and 11 of them became Hall of Famers.

Three Minneapolis Lakers greats were territorial picks: Hamline's Vern Mikkelsen in 1949, and the Gophers' Whitey Skoog in 1951 and Dick Garmaker in 1955.

Imagine how different NBA history would have been if those players had been merely tossed into the draft lottery and ended up with whatever team had the worst record the year before?

Few local options

If territorial picks were still in practice, the Wolves wouldn't have had a lot of recent options. Only a few Minnesota college graduates have had long NBA careers.

The list of Gophers who have been drafted since 1989 is John Shasky, Kevin Lynch, Willie Burton, Sam Jacobson, Quincy Lewis, John Thomas, Voshon Lenard, Bobby Jackson, Joel Przybilla and Kris Humphries. Of that group, Burton, Jacobson, Lewis, Thomas, Jackson, Przybilla and Humphries were first-round picks. Augsburg's Devean George also was a first-round pick in 1999.

Part of the territorial pick rule was that to use it, a team had to give up its first-round slot. So maybe those players could have played for the Wolves under that rule, or maybe the pick would have been too high and/or valuable to opt for a local player.

History at No. 5

Perhaps no draft slot has played a more vital role for the Wolves than No. 5, where they selected Providence point guard Kris Dunn on Thursday night.

In 1995, franchise history changed when they grabbed high schooler Kevin Garnett at No. 5. The next year, they had the same slot and used it on future Hall of Famer Ray Allen, only to trade him for Stephon Marbury, who was great but only with the Wolves for three seasons. What would have happened if the Wolves had stuck with Allen, one of the all-time great people and players in the NBA?

Then there was the No. 5 pick in 2009 of point guard Ricky Rubio, who has become a talented and electrifying all-around player. But with the next pick, Wolves GM David Kahn made the biggest professional mistake of his life when he grabbed another point guard, Jonny Flynn, instead of eventual two-time NBA MVP Stephen Curry.

MacPhail returns

Andy MacPhail, the general manager of the Twins' World Series champions in 1987 and 1991, is now president of baseball operations for the Phillies and was in town this week for the Twins-Phillies interleague series. He said that while the Twins have had tremendous struggles this season, many around the league believe that is temporary.

"The Twins team, I think the industry felt, was a promising young team, and the truth is that may still turn out to be the case," MacPhail said. "I know the start they got off to is disappointing but with young players, you're going to go through some inconsistencies, and I think if they feel like they can get their starting pitching stabilized, I think they're going to be a lot better than they started."

He said for that reason, the Pohlad family shouldn't be too distraught over the horrible start.

"They have been building an organization that is envied by many others," MacPhail said. "The results aren't showing on the field, but most of the independent evaluators of farm systems and organizations still believe this is as deep as any other, which generally portends to better things on the way."

He said he wasn't expecting to be offered a job about a year ago after being out of baseball since 2011.

"It was a surprise to me," MacPhail said. "I was minding my own business sitting on the couch and the phone rang. I was grateful it was the Phillies who called. They have a great reputation in the industry, a unique culture there, great ownership, plenty of resources, great facilities. If we don't get the thing turned around in due time, it's going to be nobody's fault but our own."

Jottings

•Vikings coach Mike Zimmer was asked what his message to his team was when they began a two-week break from practice until after July 4th. "This time of year, I expect them to be smart," he said. "You know a lot of bad things happen off the field this time of year. I don't want to get any phone calls about anything."

•Apple Valley guard Gary Trent Jr. began his play with Team USA's under-17 squad at the FIBA World Championships in Spain on Thursday. Trent is one of the most sought-after recruits in the state, but there's another player on his Howard Pulley AAU team drawing a lot of notice. Maple Grove point guard Brad Davison was the team's second-leading scorer at the Nike EYBL and shot better in every category than Trent. He already had scholarship offers from every notable midmajor program, but now colleges such as Nebraska, North Carolina State, Georgia Tech, Stanford and Wisconsin have made offers. Former Gophers interim coach Jim Molinari is the lead recruiter for Nebraska on Davison.

Connor Rousemiller and Jonathan Tharaldsen are freshmen throwers for the Gophers track and field team and will compete at the 2016 USATF Junior Outdoor Championships this week in Clovis, Calif. … The Gophers football coaching staff had a record 800 players attend their annual summer football camp.

•Prior Lake pitcher Nick Hanson, who was taken in the third round (79th overall) of the MLB draft by the Cincinnati Reds, has been assigned to the Reds' farm team in the Arizona rookie league. Hanson reportedly signed for $925,000, $125,000 over the recommended slot value of that draft position. … Coon Rapids product Logan Shore, who pitched for Florida in the College World Series, is expected to sign with the Oakland A's now that the Gators season has ended. Shore was taken in the second round (47th overall) by the A's. The recommended signing bonus for his draft slot is $1.35 million.

Sid Hartman can be heard weekdays on 830-AM at 7:40 and 8:40 a.m. and on Sundays at 9:30 a.m. shartman@startribune.com