CHICAGO – Most of the June draft's best prospects didn't attend the NBA draft combine in May, but Tom Thibodeau, Timberwolves coach/president of basketball operations, General Manager Scott Layden and most of the team's scouting and front-office staff did.

A month after the end of the regular season, Thibodeau has shifted toward his president's job, diving into draft preparations at a Chicago west-side gym for what is being called one of the best classes in years.

"Great draft," Thibodeau said, looking relaxed, happy and in his element with executives and coaches from all 30 teams under one roof. "This is your next phase. We think there will be good opportunity for us. We have a lot of flexibility — cap space, the draft. We know we're going to get a good pick. We'll go from there."

Among the top 10 projected players, only Washington freshman point guard Markelle Fultz and Kentucky freshman point guard De'Aaron Fox attended an annual scouting combine that is drawing fewer and fewer top prospects by the year. Fultz only interviewed with select teams — the Wolves not included — while such players as UCLA's Lonzo Ball, Kansas' Josh Jackson and Duke's Jayson Tatum took their agents' advice and didn't show at all.

Neither did Florida State's Jonathan Isaac, Arizona's Lauri Markkanen or Kentucky's Malik Monk, all three of whom the Wolves will consider if they stay sixth in the draft.

A franchise that remarkably has never fared better in the lottery than it should have, the Wolves will know after Tuesday's night lottery just where they will pick. They're sending young star Andrew Wiggins to represent them on a television stage in New York, hoping 2014's No. 1 overall pick can bring his team lottery luck.

Meanwhile, neither Thibodeau nor Layden will take the big stage, opting to stay home in Minnesota.

"There's a lot of stuff for us to do here," Thibodeau said.

He and his staff attended a D League minicamp earlier this week in Chicago, an event particularly important now that NBA teams will add two new roster spots starting next season for development players who can be shuttled between both leagues.

There also are individual and small-group workouts the Wolves will hold privately at their training facility between now and the draft and a number of "pro days" presented by a variety of agents from coast to coast in late May and early June.

The team also will be represented at an annual European draft camp in Italy in June.

"Our scouts have been studying these guys all year," Thibodeau said. "It's a chance to have a good dialogue amongst ourselves. We debate things. We talk about strengths and weaknesses and fit, who has improved, who has good upside and what type of characteristics they have and what might they add to our team."

In Chicago, Wolves personnel interviewed many prospects, none of whom they'll take with the sixth or seventh pick. Still, they must be ready for a two-round draft in which they currently own no other picks.

"You have to prepare for all the possibilities that may come along," Thibodeau said. "You may trade up, you may trade down. You may get a second-round pick. You have to know everybody."

The Wolves could trade the pick in a deal for a veteran star. Probably more likely, they'll keep the pick and decide whether to draft the proverbial best player at their spot or draft for need.

Either way, there's good news.

"Obviously, we have a lot of needs," Thibodeau said. "You look for the best available player and see how they fit, thinking about where we are and where we want to go."

Getting better

Thibodeau said both Zach LaVine and Nemanja Bjelica are progressing back in Minneapolis in their rehabilitation from season-ending injuries.

Bjelica is strengthening his upper body and shooting from a seated position while the navicular bone in his foot heals after he broke it in March. LaVine has advanced to shooting while he stands. He's also working on "pocket" passes with his left hand and he'll next ramp up his cardiovascular conditioning while he recovers from February surgery to repair a torn ACL.

Both are studying film, too. Thibodeau set no timetable on either player's return.

"Zach is further along, obviously," Thibodeau said. "We just want them to go step by step. We're not going to rush it."

A new Leaf

Count UCLA freshman big man T.J. Leaf among the many potential first- and second-round picks the Wolves interviewed and examined in Chicago.

"I like what the Wolves did," Leaf said. "They showed me some tape of me this year. It was really impressive how they knew my game."