T'Wolves win NBA lottery, will pick No. 1 overall

Chris Hine Minneapolis Star
Tribune (TNS)
LaMelo Ball of the Illawarra Hawks in action agaisnt the New Zealand Breakers at Spark Arena in Auckland, New Zealand, on Nov. 30, 2019.

MINNEAPOLIS — For one of the few times in a franchise history filled with Ping-Pong balls, the Timberwolves benefited from a little lottery luck.

The Wolves landed the No. 1 pick in the upcoming draft, cashing in their 14% odds of netting the top pick.

They had the highest odds of getting the No. 1 pick, along with Cleveland and Golden State, but as the team with the third-worst record, the Wolves technically moved up from their slot for the first time in franchise history.

The Timberwolves edged out the Warriors, who will pick second, and the Hornets and Bulls, who jumped into the third and fourth slots, respectively.

Last time the Wolves picked first, they netted franchise linchpin Karl-Anthony Towns. That draft, it was either Towns or Duke's Jahlil Okafor at the top. This time the race to be the No. 1 pick is a murky one. But it's a good problem for the Wolves to have.

Potential top picks include guard LaMelo Ball, who played in Australia and whose brother Lonzo is on the Pelicans, and Anthony Edwards, an explosive guard from Georgia.

The Wolves had an 86% chance of landing somewhere else in the draft.

According to Tankathon.com, they actually had the highest chance of picking sixth. The Wolves had a 26% shot of landing there, given other teams' combined odds of jumping into the top four, which could knock the Wolves down.

The Wolves had a 13.4% chance of landing second, 12.7% for third and 12% for fourth. Their odds of picking fifth were 14.8% and 7% for seventh.

Of course, they may not stay first permanently, and they have ample ammunition to try to maybe cut a deal for an established player. The Wolves also have Brooklyn's pick at No. 17, a pick they acquired in a four-team trade that involved Robert Covington at the deadline in February.

In President Gersson Rosas' lone draft as Wolves boss, he wasn't afraid to strike and moved up from No. 11 to No. 6 to take Jarrett Culver, sending Dario Saric to Phoenix in the process.

Before the lottery on Thursday, Rosas said he was open to using the Wolves' two first-rounders as trade chips.

"We're not locked into anything," Rosas said. "Any opportunity to improve this club, we're gonna be super creative. We're going to look at every opportunity throughout the league to make this team better, and we're confident whether that's drafting and picking players at our selections or using those picks in trades to add to our talent base, maybe add a little more experience."

Every draft in every sport has the age-old question, do you draft for need or do you draft the best player available regardless of position? Rosas is firmly planted in the latter camp. His philosophy? Get the best player and make it work.

"It's not something where you pick a guy, you plug a hole and you move forward," Rosas said. "You pick a guy, you build an organization, you build a program, and it takes time. It's a natural process when you're working through the draft and you're building an organization."

The draft is currently scheduled for October, however a report from ESPN said there was a possibility free agency and the draft could be pushed back depending on when the league sets a timetable for the start of next season.