Assuming they don’t trade the No. 1 overall pick — and they had better not trade it — the Wolves will have the opportunity to choose first in the NBA draft for the first time in their history.
That player will have some stiff competition, however, when it comes to No. 1 picks in Minnesota sports history. I counted up 10 previous top picks chosen by Minnesota teams in the NBA, NHL, NFL, MLB and WNBA. Here they are, ranked from top to bottom:
1. Elgin Baylor, Minneapolis Lakers, 1958: Sure, he only played two years in Minnesota before the franchise moved to Los Angeles. But in terms of top picks panning out, it doesn’t get much better than one of the best NBA players of all time.
2. Ron Yary, Vikings, 1968: He was the first offensive lineman taken No. 1 overall, and it turned out to be an astute pick by the Vikings. Yary was an anchor on four Super Bowl teams, being named All-Pro six consecutive seasons and gaining election in 2001 to the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
3. Maya Moore, Lynx, 2011: She’s only played four seasons, but she’s already won Rookie of the Year and WNBA MVP honors while helping the Lynx to two championships.
4. Joe Mauer, Twins, 2001: Regardless of how he has regressed, never forget that Mauer won three batting titles and an MVP award before he turned 27 and the guy he was controversially drafted ahead of — pitcher Mark Prior — hasn’t played in the big leagues since 2006.
5. Mike Modano, North Stars, 1988: His career really started to flourish when the franchise moved to Dallas, but never doubt this was an outstanding No. 1 pick. Modano was an 11-time NHL All-Star and finished his career with 1,359 points — more than any other U.S.-born player in history.
6. Seimone Augustus, Lynx, 2006: It says a lot about this list that a player as accomplished as Augustus can’t even crack the top five. Suffice to say this five-time WNBA All-Star was a slam-dunk No. 1 pick who has lived up to the hype.
7. Bobby Smith, North Stars, 1978: Had some great seasons, particularly early in his career, including a 30-goal effort that earned him Rookie of the Year honors.
8. Tommy Mason, Vikings, 1961: The first-ever draft pick by the Vikings, Mason made three Pro Bowls and finished his career with more than 4,200 yards rushing.
9. Brian Lawton, North Stars, 1983: Even though he scored 112 career goals, Lawton is considered a bust as a No. 1 overall pick. It doesn’t help that the No. 3 (Pat LaFontaine) and No. 4 (Steve Yzerman) picks are Hall of Famers.
10. Tim Belcher, Twins, 1983: The worst type of No. 1 pick — the kind that never signed. The righthanded pitcher ended up winning 146 games in a nice career, but not a single inning came with the Twins.