The Minnesota Timberwolves have executed 53 total trades since the franchise’s inception in 1988.
Just 11 of those trades included a first-rounder and only five of those have had the Wolves trading their first round pick. Of those 11, seven have happened since 2014. See, we live in a time where picks are being traded and flung around at mach speeds, mostly because there is value in the unknown.
So here’s what I want to answer: what have the picks that the Wolves have traded turned into, how did that play out, and possibly most importantly, how can I spite Bill Simmons. Simmons has this theory of certain franchises having more valuable draft picks because of poor historical records (Clearly, Los Angeles Lakers picks have no value). Let’s begin.
Trade Group 1: The “Doesn’t Move the Needle”
There’s nothing here. You’re wondering who cares? Me. I do.
Anyway, in 2015, the Wolves traded their 2018 first-round pick for Adreian Payne (RIP). That pick eventually landed at 19. Funny enough, the Wolves would later trade Ricky Rubio to the Utah Jazz for a first-rounder, which became the 20th overall pick. The 19th overall pick became Kevin Huerter, while the 20th pick became Josh Okogie (I miss you Josh). Both have left the team that drafted them. Would I prefer Huerter, who has become an impact starter for the Sacramento Kings, over my beloved Josh Okogie? Yeah, for sure. But, this is not that important of a shift.
Its overall impact is probably similar to Chase Budinger’s 2014 VORP (0.0).
Next up, we have the Stephon Marbury/Ray Allen swap. Now, when I first started keeping up with basketball, this was one of my favorite what-ifs, but I insist that Marbury could’ve been wondrous with KG if it wasn’t for egos. However, the drop off is unavoidable. Allen turned into a better, less volatile pro, yada yada yada. We saw that Allen worked great with KG in Boston, who cares (again, me)? The crazy part to me is the trivia potential here. The Wolves included a 1998 first in this trade, which became Rasho Nesterovic. Rasho never played a game for the Milwaukee Bucks. Instead, he was traded for Andrew Lang. Where was he traded Minnesota! So, this trade was terrible for the Wolves, sure. BUT, the pick they gave up was the same one they got back for Andrew Lang, who averaged 4 points and 4 rebounds in his two years as a Buck.
I’d call this one a “no harm, no foul” situation. Like what should’ve happened on the Anthony Edwards over Gabe Vincent dunk.
Trade Group 2: Kinda Disastrous But Long Ago
The first trade to look at happened when I was not even in Kindergarten. In 2005, the Wolves traded Sam Cassell and a 2012 first for Lionel Chalmers and Marko Jaric. One could argue that the Wolves traded both the best player and best asset in this trade, but I’d feel a whole lot worse about this if I was old enough to remember it. Chalmers was waived without playing a game for the Wolves and never played in the NBA again, whereas Jaric was a solid bench piece, averaging 27 minutes a game until he was traded as part of the OJ Mayo/Kevin Love swap.
On the other side of things, the Los Angeles Clippers had, at the time, their best season in franchise history led by Cassell and the Timberwolves draft pick became current Wolf Austin Rivers who, most notably, was used as part of the Chris Paul trade.
If we were to give this trade a grade, it’d have to be somewhere between the pre-Hustle perception of Juancho Hernangomez’s defense on Wolves twitter and the post Rachel Nichols interview outlook of the 2018 season. Either way, not good.
Trade Group 3: Welcome to the Present
I’m pretty sure everyone knows the two trades I’m about to talk about. There are two trades that became the basis for this current Wolves team. There is the D’Angelo Russell - Andrew Wiggins swap and there is the recent Gustavian sized shot on the Rudy Gobert trade. Let’s end with the Gobert trade and go chronologically here.
I think the D-Lo trade is the most controversial topic in the Wolves twittersphere, mostly because it depends on your opinion of the 2020 Timberwolves version of Andrew Wiggins. I, personally, am one of the people that never left the Wiggins hill so I am clearly not a fan of a trade in which we traded the better player and a pick. However, one thing is for certain: it was time for the Wiggins - Wolves marriage to end. There’s one other huge factor we need to keep in mind for Wigs; is there any other team that had any interest in trading for Andrew as anything but a salary sponge? The Wolves bought high on D-Lo, who is a good player, and sold low on Wiggins, who is a good (to great) player, attaching Jonathan Kuminga, who could be a good player, to make it happen. Wiggins signed a four-year/$109 million extension this past offseason, while D-Lo is playing out the last year of his deal and will probably want a similar or higher valued contract.
On the other side of things, let’s talk about Gobert. Or rather, let’s talk about what we know for sure. The Gobert trade has opened a championship window for the Wolves. The Gobert trade is the type of trade Tim Connely was hired to make. And lastly, the Gobert trade has had 14 games worth of evidence (12, if you want to be technical). Don’t overreact. The Wolves traded a lot, sure, but this is not the 19th pick for Payne trade. This is not the Cassell trade. And these are not the same old Timberwolves.
Oh and as for proving Bill Simmons wrong, you’ll have to come back for that one. Just like with the Gobert trade, there’s a whole lot of data left to collect and analyze.