Jerry Zgoda missed the entire Kevin Garnett era, but he's back covering the Timberwolves after working the beat for their first four seasons two decades ago. In between, he covered a bit of everything: Gopher men's and women's basketball and NCAA athletics, golf, outdoor recreation, sports media and a little Vikings and Twins.

Timberwolves finish second to Cavs in NBA draft lottery

Posted by: Jerry Zgoda under Wolves management, Wolves players, Vikings draft, Wolves news Updated: May 17, 2011 - 10:50 PM

The Timberwolves, of course, still have never gotten better than they've deserved in the draft lottery, the NBA's annual springtime game of chance.

But tonight they won their highest pick ever, finishing second to Cleveland (via the Clippers) and thus presumably earning the right to select Arizona forward Derrick Williams second overall if they so choose after Cleveland likely takes Duke's Kyrie Irving first..

Of course, doing better than they deserved was impossible this time at the lottery because the Wolves finished the season with the league's worst record (17-65) and had the best chance (25 percent) of winning the overall pick.

Somebody asked David Kahn during a conference call with Twin Cities reporters if the team remains lottery "jinxed."

"Jinxed to me is a much stronger term when you have a 25-percent chance," he said. "When there's only 25 percent, the odds aren't in your favor."

Hey, the Wolves could have finished fourth.

It looked for a moment that it might turn out that way -- especially if you're a fatalistic Wolves fan -- when the Cavs with a pick they obtained from the Clippers last winter and Utah with a pick obtained from New Jersey in the Deron Williams trade leapfrogged up the list of lottery teams as the televised results of the drawing unfolded to win one of the top three picks.

But when the No. 4 overall pick was revealed, it was the Cavaliers' own pick that went there, which meant the Wolves were guaranteed a top three pick for only the second time in all their trips to the lottery.

ESPN took a commercial break at that point while they assembled representatives of the three remaining teams center stage.

That meant Kahn stepped forth.

So did Jazz general manager Kevin O'Connor.

And so did Cavs owner Dan Gilbert's bespectacled, bow-tied 14-year-old son, Nick, who is afflicted with a rare neurological disease.

"I did tell Kevin O'Connor when the three of us were asked to stand up on that little elevated stage, as soon as the 14 year old joined us, we were toast," Kahn said. "There was no way the 14 year old was about to be denied in a league that has a habit of compelling storylines."

The Wolves had the best chance  to win the first pick, but fell to second, a development that still gives them options in a draft that's supposedly has two top players.

The Wolves might not have won the lotto, but they won the next best thing:

They now have options and a pick to dangle if they want to make a deal for a veteran(s) and/or perhaps a pick later in the lottery.

Now, picking second in a June 23 draft that will see Utah pick third, they can say "Come and get him" to any team drooling over a  6-8 small forward who wowed in the NCAA tournament.

Or they could choose Williams for themselves, even though they currently have Michael Beasley, Wes Johnson, Anthony Randolph and Kevin Love has small forward/power forward types.

They also could go for Turkish center Enes Kanter now with that second pick if they conclude they want, and need, a big man.

Intent on signing Ricky Rubio, the Wolves likely would have tried to trade that pick -- and Irving -- if they had won the first overall pick anyway.

Kahn said Tuesday night that he does not consider this a two-player draft.

"It's too early for that," he said.

He mentioned the 2008 NBA draft as an example.

That's when Derrick Rose and Beasley were clearly considered the draft's best two prospects, and Oklahoma City took Russell Westbrook out of nowhere with the No. 4 pick.

"I suspect if you look at the projections, I don't believe you'd have seen Russell Westbrook anywhere near No. 4," Kahn said. "It's too early to make these broad-based assertions. Things can change, even at No. 1."

The Wolves very well could trade that No. 2 overall pick for a veteran(s) and/or a pick later in the lottery.

Kahn said he and his staff will have to discuss if such a young team should get younger still.

"Is there a tipping point where you're too young, where it's just not right," he said. "I won't say the draft pick won't be used."

 

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