Minnesota Timberwolves Win NBA Draft Lottery

NBA Draft Lottery AP

Fourteen losing franchises converged on the Midtown Hyatt Ballroom in Manhattan to discover the order of the NBA Draft. The biggest loser emerged as the biggest winner.

The Minnesota Timberwolves, owning 250 of 1000 ping-pong balls in the lottery, wound up with the first selection. The victory means the Timberwolves pick first in the draft for the first time in franchise history. Minnesota’s win marks only the fourth time that the team with the best odds came away from the lottery with the best pick.

Two 6’11” bigs, Kentucky’s Karl-Anthony Towns and Duke’s Jahlil Okafor, figure to go one-two. Minnesota’s decision boils down to whether they prefer Towns’ exceptional skillset or Okafor’s physicality. Whoever Minnesota selects will join Andrew Wiggins, this season’s Rookie of the Year, in the front court.

Eleven teams hoped to sneak into the top three through the lottery. The Phoenix Suns brought Jared Ornoski, a Hodgkins lymphoma patient, to New York as an honorary front-office member. Russell Westbrook represented the Oklahoma City Thunder wearing a lucky orange shirt. All-Rookie first team member Nerlins Noel wore a Philadelphia 76ers uniform stitched inside his suit to aid his team’s chances. “I’d like to take a couple home with me,” Indiana Pacers President Larry Bird quipped. “The talent pool is very good.”

But those teams all failed to improve their draft order through the lottery. The Los Angeles Lakers, the only team to break into a top-three spot from the bottom eleven, bumped the Knicks into the fourth spot and leapfrogged the 76ers to sneak ahead to the second pick.

Here is the draft order:

1. Minnesota Timberwolves

2. Los Angeles Lakers

3. Philadelphia 76ers

4. New York Knicks

5. Orlando Magic

6. Sacramento Kings

7. Denver Nuggets

8. Detroit Pistons

9. Charlotte Hornets

10. Miami Heat

11. Indiana Pacers

12. Utah Jazz

13. Phoenix Suns

14. Oklahoma City Thunder

The Timberwolves probably require more than Okafor or Towns to turn the team around. Minnesota finished 16-66 this season.