That’s because 1) they tied for the sixth-worst record in the league with the Knicks (31-51), and the pre-lottery slot for each team will be determined by a blind draw on Tuesday (and yes, it will be televised) … and 2) Even after that is settled, there is the matter of the actual lottery, which doesn’t happen until May 16.
But there’s a pretty good chance the Wolves will end up picking somewhere between sixth and eighth, depending on how it all shakes out. They’ll have about a 1 in 20 chance at the No. 1 pick and about a 1 in 5 chance of moving into the top three.
For now, let’s look at the likeliest outcomes — the Wolves end up either in their draft slot or one spot lower, which could be 6th/7th or 7th/8th depending on the blind draw — and look at some potential scenarios:
*The Wolves draft Kentucky guard Malik Monk. Several mock drafts, including this one, have Minnesota taking the 6-4 scorer/shooter, who had a smooth freshman year for the Wildcats. That would hardly be a bad thing since Monk has a game you could see translating to the NBA nicely, and there’s a decent chance he would be available at one of the aforementioned likely slots, but one also has to wonder if the Wolves really need another young (19) scorer.
*The Big Lead tosses out more of a need-based pick that has some intrigue: Gonzaga big man Zach Collins, a freshman who just recently announced he is entering the draft. His stock could rise as more teams consider him, but right now he looks to be available in the 6-8 range according to most mocks I’ve seen. Collins is only 19, but he’s a 7-footer who can protect the rim. The Wolves could use one of those.
*Bleacher Report tabs Frank Ntilikina, a guard from France, as the pick for the Wolves. In a separate piece, BR calls Ntilikina the best perimeter defender available in the draft. I have no idea if that’s true, but if it is? Sign me up.
*Of course, Tom Thibodeau and the rest of the Wolves’ decision-makers could conclude the Wolves have enough young players and orchestrate some sort of draft night trade involving the pick in exchange for more proven help. It’s a deep draft, which could mean other teams will covet a player that falls to the Wolves.
*The options would only increase if the Wolves managed to jump into the top three via the lottery. While unlikely, it’s not outlandish to think it could happen. Then you’re talking about guys like Josh Jackson (Kansas) and Lonzo Ball (UCLA) being in play either to choose or dangle as trade bait.