Next week, the Timberwolves will learn in which position they select come June’s NBA draft. This week, Flip Saunders and his scouting staff is in Chicago for the annual draft combine, getting a look at players that, with one possible exception, they won’t select early on draft night.
Ohio State’s D’Angelo Russell is the only potential top-four pick participating, and he is one of 27 players who will interview with teams and undergo physical and medical testing only.
Another 35 players — none of them likely first-round picks — have agreed to play 5-on-5 games Thursday and Friday. The NBA is reintroducing that live competition back into the combine this year.
Probable top-five picks Jahlil Okafor, Karl-Anthony Towns, Emmanuel Mudiay and Kristaps Porzingis declined the NBA’s invitation to come to Chicago. They will work out for selected teams after the draft order is determined by Tuesday’s annual draft lottery.
Apple Valley’s Tyus Jones and former Cooper High School star Rashad Vaughn accepted invitations but chose not to participate in 5-on-5 play. Jones measured 6-0¼ without his shoes and 6-2 with them on and 184.6 pounds, good size for a point guard. A shooting guard, Vaughn measured 6-3¾ without shoes, 6-5 with and 198.6 pounds.
The Wolves have the best chance — 25 percent — to win the lottery and the draft’s top pick and can select no lower than fourth overall. Okafor and Towns are considered the draft’s top two prospects, although in which order is a matter of debate and could go right up until draft night. The Wolves also have two second-round picks, 31st and 36th overall.
• ESPN2 will broadcast this week’s 5-on-5 games and draft analysis Thursday and Friday, from 2 to 6 p.m. Twin Cities time.