When the Wolves traded Andrew Wiggins to the Warriors for D'Angelo Russell, they also traded a top-three protected first-round pick this season. It creates a bit of a weird dynamic between the Warriors and Wolves. By beating the Wolves, the Warriors help ensure the Wolves' record stays among the worst in the NBA.
When asked if it was something that was in the back of his mind during this two-game stretch with the Wolves, Warriors coach Steve Kerr said: "Yes, I'll be honest. … Why not?"
It might be something for the coaching staff and front office to think about, but Warriors forward Draymond Green said it wasn't exactly top of mind for the players.
"I hope no player ain't thinking about that," Green said. "… I guarantee you, not more than five people know we got the Timberwolves' pick in this locker room. It's not something that you really focus on as a player. Also, us losing to them one game, I highly doubt that determines whether we get that pick or not. We need wins."
There's another layer to this, however. If the Wolves finish among the worst three teams record-wise in the NBA, they'll maximize their chances of having the pick fall in the top three. The Wolves would then have about a 40% chance of that pick remaining top three. If the pick doesn't convey this year, the Warriors get the Wolves' first-rounder unprotected in 2022.
Russell missed his third consecutive game still nursing a right quad contusion, but coach Ryan Saunders said Russell was able to practice fully Tuesday as he tries to return to play.
"He did everything in our practice so we're just watching him and listening to his body too," Saunders said.
Jarrett Culver missed his first game because of a left ankle sprain he suffered Monday. Saunders had no timetable for Culver's return.
"You try to learn more in these next 48 hours when swelling goes down," Saunders said. "… I thought he was having a really nice game the way he was attacking, defending, too, so that was a big blow to us."
Dunking on a friend
The Wolves' Anthony Edwards and the Warriors' James Wiseman were the No. 1 and 2 picks of the NBA draft, but they are also good friends off the court.
"That's actually my guy off the court. We talk a lot," Wiseman said. "He's a great player, and most definitely, he's super-athletic. So coming off those screens, coming downhill, I really respect his game a lot, so that was a great matchup."
Edwards said the two have stayed in touch over the past few years.
"I'm just happy for him," Edwards said. "Happy he's healthy and I want him to keep growing and become the best player he can be."
So it wasn't awkward Monday when Edwards flew through the lane and sent a thunderous dunk in over Wiseman in a play that got passed around social media.
"Was it fun dunking on him? It's always fun dunking on somebody," Edwards said. "It just had to be James at that moment in time."
Wiseman actually said he was expecting it to happen.
"I'm not going to lie to you, I did," Wiseman said.