Yes, Flip Saunders knows the biggest cliché on draft day.
“You hear it from everybody,” said the Wolves president of basketball operations and head coach. “ ‘We had him rated a lot higher.’ … Well, we had him rated a lot higher.”
He would be Glenn Robinson III, the Michigan small forward the Wolves took with the first of the three second-round picks they had when Thursday’s draft began, at No. 40 overall.
The other two picks were sold. The No. 44 pick went to the Nets for a reported $1 million. The 53rd overall pick went to Houston for an undisclosed amount. Saunders said he was going for roster flexibility rather than picking somebody he didn’t think could help the team in years to come. “We tried to turn those picks into future seconds, but we couldn’t,” Saunders said. “That’s why we ended up selling them.”
But in Robinson III, the son of the former Purdue star and onetime No. 1 overall NBA draft pick, the Wolves got a player at 40 they had rated 26th or 27th. Robinson is an athletic player who has the ability to defend on the perimeter. A player who will need developing, yes. But the Wolves believe he has a good chance of making the roster this fall. The idea going in was to use the second-round pick on a developmental player. But that was before Robinson was still available.
“He’s a first-round talent,” Saunders said. “He’s a young player  who really developed a lot from last year to this year.’’
Saunders said he liked what he saw in Robinson, who has a 40-plus-inch vertical jump, and his ability to finish around the rim improved during his sophomore season.
“Our priority was to get more athletic,” Saunders said. “Athleticism brings energy. ”
Pair of Jayhawks
When Kansas teammates Andrew Wiggins and Joel Embiid were taken in the top three picks of the NBA draft, it was the fourth time that happened since 1980.
Wiggins was the No. 1 overall pick by the Cleveland Cavaliers and Embiid was taken No. 3 by the 76ers. Duke’s Jabari Parker was taken second by the Milwaukee Bucks.
Kentucky’s Anthony Davis and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist were taken 1-2 in 2012.
The other college teammates taken in the top three since 1980 were Emeka Okafor and Ben Gordon of Connecticut in 2004, and Jay Williams and Mike Dunleavy of Duke in 2002. They were both selected second and third.
“A thousand thoughts are going through my head right now,” Wiggins said. “It’s a dream come true.”
Embiid’s journey was reminiscent of last season when Nerlens Noel, the Kentucky center, saw his stock drop after tearing his anterior cruciate ligament. Noel fell to the 76ers at No. 6 and sat out his rookie season.
Nuggets swing deal
The Denver Nuggets used the 19th pick acquired from the Chicago Bulls in a draft-day deal to get Michigan State guard Gary Harris. It cost them the draft rights to Creighton forward Doug McDermott — their earlier pick at No. 11 — who went to the Bulls, along with forward Anthony Randolph. Denver also acquired the rights to Bosnian center Jusuf Nurkic (16th overall).