You quite possibly have read recently an item or two about how bad the Timberwolves’ draft lottery luck has been throughout their history. And yes, when it is littered with facts such as the Wolves have never improved their draft position in 18 tries through the lottery and in fact have worsened their position eight times, there is plenty of evidence to lament through the years.
The most egregious happened exactly 25 years ago, when the Wolves had the most ping-pong balls after finishing a league-worst 15-67. They ended up getting the No. 3 pick — with Shaquille O’Neal and Alonzo Mourning going 1-2. The most recent example of the franchise being negatively altered by the whims of luck came in 2011 when the Wolves had the best chance at the No. 1 pick but ended up slotted at No. 2. Cleveland took Kyrie Irving first. The Wolves got Derrick Williams second.
But there also is this: in the past five years, from 2012-16 the Wolves’ lottery luck has been much better. You might even say that it’s been … good? While they’ve never moved up, there is this:
*In 2012, when some figured the Wolves would finally end up winning the lottery because they owed their top pick to the Clippers (who later traded it to the Hornets), Minnesota stayed put at the No. 10 pick.
*In 2013, Minnesota was No. 9 pre-lottery and stayed there through the drawing. The Wolves ended up flipping that pick to the Jazz and selecting Shabazz Muhammad and Gorgui Dieng with the picks they received (Nos. 14 and 21).
*In 2014, Cleveland jumped up from a pre-lottery position of No. 9 to get the top spot when the drawing happened. That led the Cavaliers to pick Andrew Wiggins — which set up the trade the Wolves made involving Kevin Love. The Wolves stayed in their No. 13 spot with their own pick and grabbed Zach LaVine.
*In 2015, the Wolves had the best odds of winning the lottery heading into the ping-pong picking, but still that only gave them a 25 percent chance of getting the top pick. There was a three in four chance they wouldn’t get that pick. But they did — and they picked franchise forward Karl-Anthony Towns first overall.
*In 2016, the Wolves’ entered the lottery slotted No. 5. They stayed put, but the most likely outcome actually was that they would pick sixth (36 percent chance vs. 26.1 percent chance to pick fifth). They used that pick on Kris Dunn.
This year already they won the tiebreaker with the Knicks, slotting the Wolves sixth instead of seventh in the pre-lottery position. We will see tonight when the draft order is revealed if Wiggins — representing the Wolves this year — can keep the franchise’s string of good luck going.