Zach Lowe has a massive story on the Timberwolves up at ESPN.com, much of it a positive look at the team’s young core balanced with the questions that remain.
Of particular interest, though, is a passage late in the story pertaining to the Wolves’ draft strategy in 2013:
Side note: They nearly picked Giannis Antetokounmpo over (Shabazz) Muhammad before settling on Muhammad as the clock was ticking in the draft room, per several sources.
That’s the year the Wolves took Trey Burke at No. 9 with the intent of shipping him to Utah for the No. 14 and No. 21 picks, which became Muhammad and Gorgui Dieng. Antetokounmpo was chosen one pick later at No. 15 by Milwaukee. It’s a fun nugget to dissect from a few different perspectives:
For starters, Antetokounmpo is a freakish athlete who is still just 20 years old and could become a star in the NBA. So to think of him as part of the Wolves’ young core is intriguing.
That said, the Wolves didn’t exactly strike out with Muhammad, who is showing signs of at least being a very nice sixth man/bench scorer. And it’s also hard to say how the rest of the Wolves moves would have played out with Antetokounmpo in the mix.
He’s a versatile player who is primarily a small forward — the same position Andrew Wiggins plays. Wiggins, of course, was drafted No. 1 overall by the Cavaliers in 2014 and traded to the Wolves later that offseason for Kevin Love.
Also, with Antetokounmpo in the mix last season, would the Wolves have been bad enough to go 16-66, which gave them the best lottery odds and turned into No. 1 overall pick Karl-Anthony Towns?
It’s hard to say. But while it’s fun to think about Antetokounmpo being part of the young, athletic core in Minnesota it’s no sure thing the same core would be here had the Wolves drafted him. Long story short: it’s probably just best to appreciate the core that is here (which is ultimately the focus of Lowe’s story).