The Minnesota Timberwolves aren’t exactly a franchise that’s synonymous with success. Outside of the Kevin Garnett era, (an era in which, with the exception of a single year, they were a low-seeded playoff team that was eliminated in the first round) the Timberwolves are a perennial lottery team. So it goes without saying that the biggest day in the T ‘Wolves calendar year is generally the draft lottery. Based on Tuesday night’s results, it appears they bring a lot of emotions with them to Secaucus, NJ.
I speak, of course, about David Kahn’s half-kidding, half-honest venting over the storybook tales that are coincidentally born out of the draft lottery. This is well-tread material amongst NBA circles, and it always seems to be in the back of everyone’s mind. Though, while it may seem that way about every other year, the risk for the league simply isn’t worth the reward, and this is the longest anyone has ever reached to invoke it.
Kahn’s employer may be victims of the league-wide mass exodus of A-Listers from smaller markets. They certainly aren’t the lone casualty. In terms of marketability, it does the NBA very little favors to have any of it’s young stars in Cleveland, Ohio. The only time the Cavaliers can even hope to be on national television is when they play a home game against Miami. The market is one of the most evacuated in the country. Cleveland has a better chance of falling into a sinkhole than Dan Gilbert does of convincing David Stern to commit fraud on his behalf.
If I had to guess, Kahn’s response is more the result of his own frustrations than any legitimate gripe about the conduct of the league. For starters, it is widely known now, that Minnesota, in the history of the draft lottery, has never moved up from their predicted spot.
Secondly, in his tinier with the team, Kahn has made some historically ill-advised draft decisions, most notably in 2009, when he drafted three point guards in the first round: Ricky Rubio (5th), Johnny Flynn (6th) and Ty Lawson (18th), with the former of which looking like a prototypical bust. Rubio has yet to play a game in the NBA and is fledgling in Europe, and Ty Lawson looks to have a promising career…in Denver. Yes, Kahn drafted three point guards, and traded the only one who could make an all-star game.
Given the franchise’s history at the lottery, the fan base probably feels similarly slighted. If I was a diehard fan of a team, I too would find it peculiar that we had never once placed better in the lottery than we were expected. Given that the average NBA player tends to migrate towards big cities with warm weather, a long history of titles and low taxes, I’d also resent the fact that the league’s stars and prospective stars find my city so undesirable to reside in — even if only for half the year — and my team so intolerable to play for.
Though no one is conspiring against you in favor of Cleveland, which is in a dead heap with Minnesota and Toronto for least viable NBA market. On the bright side, you have the second pick in what many consider to be a two-man draft. The consensus was similar (but far from identical) in 2007, when Portland landed the first overall pick. Ask them if they’re still content with taking Oden over Durant.
Odds are Minnesota will return to the lottery in 2012 and it will be a much deeper draft class. If anything, I’d be glad that my team can only be expected to marginally improve, and give us better positioning for next May.