Karl-Anthony Towns, Trey Lyles and Devin Booker were freshmen on the 2014-15 Kentucky Wildcats, a team that won 38 of its 39 games, with the loss being in the national semifinals to Wisconsin.

The three freshmen entered the NBA draft, as did sophomore Willie Cauley-Stein. Towns was the first pick in the draft for the Timberwolves, and Booker was the 13th to the Phoenix Suns.

We are so impressed with the Timberwolves putting together a historic 13-year streak (2005-2017) without reaching the playoffs that it's easy to forget that the Suns went a full decade (2011-2020) without reaching the playoffs. It was so bad that Wolves fans even had moments of embracing the idea that Booker might decide to come here to team with his pal Towns.

As it turned out, another player advertised as a Towns pal wound up here in D'Angelo Russell, now having his once-a-week (at best) helpful games for the Lakers.

As for Booker, there's no better reason to suspect the Wolves are going to celebrate the 20th anniversary (2004) of their only playoff series wins with the fourth first-round elimination since 2018.

Booker and the Suns have a 10-game winning streak vs. the Timberwolves and are 14 out of 15, going back to a final meeting in the 2018-19 season.

The previous win Anthony Edwards enjoyed over Booker, his teammate-to-be for the U.S. Olympic team this summer in Paris, came in Ant's rookie season — 123-119 on March 18, 2021 in Phoenix.

Booker and the Suns went an easy 3-0 over the Wolves this season. KAT's back from injury but there's no power forward for him to guard, with the Suns playing four shooters and a center.

Edwards and Booker are the same size, but you don't want to give Ant that duty for more than short stretches. The potential would be too large for foul trouble, and also technical trouble.

The much-better choice, in the mind of numerous NBA hard-cores, would be more minutes for Nickeil Alexander-Walker, the 6-foot-5 secret weapon that basketball boss Tim Connelly acquired along with point guard Mike Conley in the trade that rid the Wolves of D-Lo.

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He has been effective enough in his seventh- or eighth-man role to earn the nickname NAW with fans. And the tape-studying stats people have come up with this:

In three games this season, Booker is 0-for-9 from the field when being NAW-ed at defensively, and 1-for-17 the past two seasons.

Alexander-Walker was asked about the 0-for-9 on Thursday. "Nine shots is really nothing, compared to his usage rate, and the number of looks that the Suns get (on the perimeter)," he said.

Alexander-Walker played 62 minutes in the three losses to the Suns. How much of that was spent guarding Booker?

"That's pretty much my matchup coming into the game, to guard him," Alexander-Walker said. "He definitely was a top shooting guard — 100%, he was a top three two-guard in the league, in my opinion.

"What he's doing right now, being a combo guard, trying to be in that point guard role since Chris Paul left … he's making a lot of plays offensively as both a passer and a shooter."

Alexander-Walker was asked if there are any hints he'll get more minutes — knowing, of course, if there had been, he wouldn't be bragging about those plans before Game 1.

"We found a rotation that works for our team," he said. "Understanding my minutes, knowing what I need to do within those minutes, it's controlling what I can do to help the team … whether it's 10, 12, 20 or more."

Win or lose, Alexander-Walker might not be done with Booker when this series ends. He's going to be a member of the Canadian Olympic team — along with Oklahoma City superstar cousin Shai Gilgeous-Alexander — that has qualified for the Paris Olympics.

That's the first time for Canada since the Sydney Olympics in 2000. If a Canada-U.S. matchup comes up after group play, Alexander-Walker would be even more excited to take on his teammate Edwards.

NAW vs. Ant?

"That would be cool," Alexander-Walker said. "I'll be talking my trash to him. I don't care if he scores, because I'll be going back at him."