I was born in 1989, the inaugural Timberwolves season. For my entire life the Wolves have never had the number one pick. Number one picks have played for the team, sure. Michael Olowokandi and Joe Smith, Andrew Wiggins and Anthony Bennett. But they have never actually held their own destiny in the first slot.
The NBA draft lottery has never worked in favor of the Wolves. If You're Reading This You Likely Already Know.
Armed with the best odds entering last night's NBA lottery, Minnesota walked away as the big winners. For the first time in team history that precious last envelope revealed the logo every Wolves' fan has dreamed of seeing over the last decade of lottery visits.
In case you missed the national broadcast, the Lakers scored the second pick, Philadelphia received the third pick, the Knicks were the biggest losers – falling to the fourth pick, though they entered with the second best odds – while Orlando rounded out the top five.
Why yes, George Michael, it's finally happening.
After another grim, 66-loss season that raised more questions than answers, more injuries than progression, and more of the same results for the NBA's worst franchise over the last decade, the tide seems to be turning. Last night was a huge moment for the Wolves, potentially something we'll look back at years from now and say "that was a defining moment."
Now comes the waiting and plenty of speculation surrounding the organizations ultimate plan is sure to follow. Let the rumors, and the Towns vs. Okafor debate, officially begin. We've talked about both players rather extensively before today, but to reinforce my view: Towns should be the Wolves pick when Adam Silver takes the stage in Brooklyn at Barclays Center on Thursday, June 25, 2015.
The Wolves' finished last in defensive rating (112.2) this season – though the roster was decimated by injuries, it's still hard to imagine a healthy unit finishing in the upper half of the NBA. What about defensive rebound percentage? You guessed correctly! Also last place (71.6 percent). And, of course, the offense was allergic to attempting (and making) 3-pointers – finishing last in 3-Point Attempt Rate (.179).
What about blocks per game? The team ranked 27th with only 4.0 bpg. If the Wolves had one strength in particular, it came at the charity stripe where they ranked third in free throw attempt rate (.309) and sixth in free throw percentage (.776). Long story short, I believe Towns is the superior prospect in each of these areas. If he can stretch out his game to the 3-point line, as some scouts have speculated, there's even more reason to believe "KAT" is a truly transcendent player.
Towns vs. Okafor
When you start comparing their freshman seasons, you'll start to notice where the biggest differences exist – defensive rebounds per 40 minutes, blocks per 40, points per 40, and free throw percentage (3-1 in favor of Towns).
|Karl-Anthony Towns||Jahlil Okafor|
Reports over the next month, including some silly rumors that came out last night, will likely hint that both players prefer Los Angeles. I get the market aspect, and as a lifelong Minnesotan I certainly understand the weather angle, but who wants to go play with Kobe and that cast of misfits over one of best passers in game, Rubio, and Andrew Wiggins? Anyway, Karl Towns came out and said playing in Minnesota would be a blessing.
Here's a snippet from Adam Zagoria's article at Zagsblog:
"It would be a blessing and an honor to even have a chance to play for Minnesota and be able to have the chance to play for a great organization and learn from a great mentor like Kevin Garnett," Towns told SNY.tv at the lottery.
Asked if he was ready for the cold weather in Minnesota, Towns cracked a broad smile and said, "Of course, I'm from Jersey. We're used to snow, we're used to cold weather."
Glen Taylor, on securing the first overall pick:
"I'm not only happy for myself, I'm happy for the Minnesota fans because they've been so loyal and so patient with us," Wolves majority owner Glen Taylor said. "It's been such a difficult year with all the injuries we've had."
Taylor said Wolves President and coach Flip Saunders now faces the kind of pressure to make the right pick that any team would want.
"I think that Flip Saunders was probably, up until this moment, wishing he would get this," he said. "Now that he has it, I think it is a lot of pressure just with our young team. We have to find a young guy that will work in and complement the other guys."
I know of one particular guy that will work. He goes by the name of Karl-Anthony, and he possesses the best two-way game of any prospect in the draft. Saunders and General Manager Milt Newton have repeatedly talked about finding two-way players during their time running the show in Minnesota.
Now they'll have to follow through with that vision. Towns epitomizes the player they consistently talk about.
Quick Mock (Top 5)
1. Minnesota Timberwolves: Karl-Anthony Towns
2. L.A. Lakers: Jahlil Okafor
3. Philadelphia 76ers: D'Angelo Russell
4. New York Knicks: Emmanuel Mudiay
5. Orlando Magic: Kristaps Porzingis
Obviously things change, workouts occur and opinions shift, but this is my gut reaction after seeing the lottery play out. What's yours?