Founded as an expansion team in 1989, the Minnesota Timberwolves are a relatively young NBA franchise. Still, several talented players have come through the organization over the years.
Let’s take a look back at what we believe to be the best draft picks in Timberwolves history.
5. Stephon Marbury
The Bucks selected Marbury with the 4th overall pick in the 1996 NBA Draft, but he was traded to the Timberwolves for the draft rights to Ray Allen, who was the 5th pick in that class.
It wasn’t long until the crafty ball-handler started making an impact. In just his first season, “Starbury,” as he came to be known, turned in averages of 15.8 points and 7.8 assists per game and earned All-Rookie Team honors while leading Minnesota to its first-ever playoff berth.
Marbury and big man Kevin Garnett would go on to lead the Timberwolves to the playoffs in 1998 as well, though they were defeated by the Seattle Supersonics in five games. More on KG later…
Stephon is still ranked 5th on Minnesota’s all-time assist list.
4. Wally Szczerbiak
The Timberwolves selected Szczerbiak with the 6th overall pick in the 1999 NBA Draft. The pick actually came from the Nets as part of a trade that sent Stephon Marbury to (then) New Jersey.
Several elements of Wally’s game quickly became evident. Most notably, his incredible accuracy at range. He made 73 appearances during his rookie campaign, averaging 11.6 points on 51.1 percent shooting from the field (35.9 percent from downtown). With each passing season, his numbers continued to improve.
Wally’s best showing with the Timberwolves came in the 2001-2002 campaign when he was named a coaches’ selection to the Western Conference All-Star team after averaging 18.7 points and a remarkable 45.5 percent mark from beyond the arc.
On April 4, 2003, Szczerbiak set a career-high in points, scoring 44 points in a 119-95 win over the Chicago Bulls.
“I was just trying to go out there and do what I always do,” Szczerbiak said of his career-high effort in 2003, via myplainview.com. “Guys were finding me and I was taking good shots.”
Szczerbiak still holds several franchise records with Minnesota, where he played seven years. He’s currently ranked 5th in 3-point field goals made with the team (343), as well as 2nd in percentage (40.4 percent from deep).
3. Kevin Love
Like Marbury, the Timberwolves acquired Love as part of a draft-night trade. The T-Wolves picked O.J. Mayo with the 3rd overall pick, then later sent him to Memphis as part of a six-player trade that brought Love, who was the 5th overall pick, back to Minnesota.
Love enjoyed a fine collegiate career at UCLA, earning Pac-10 Player of the Year honors in 2008. His impact on the Timberwolves’ roster was immediate. Though he came off the bench for more than half of his rookie season, he still turned in averages of 11.1 points and 9.1 rebounds.
Love broke out in his second year with Minnesota. He averaged 14 points and 11 rebounds that season, but it was his 31-31 game against the New York Knicks that earned him the most recognition. From that moment on, it was clear that he was going to be a starter. He would go on to earn three All-Star nods with the Timberwolves.
To this day, Love is still ranked 2nd on Minnesota’s all-time rebounding list with 4,453 to his credit.
2. Karl-Anthony Towns
Minnesota had the No. 1 overall pick in the 2015 NBA Draft. With it, they selected Towns, a former Kentucky Wildcat who would go on to become a pillar of the Timberwolves franchise.
Towns came out of the gate strong. In fact, he scored 14 points and 12 rebounds in his debut as part of a 112-111 victory over the Los Angeles Lakers. He played in all 82 games during his rookie campaign, averaging an impressive 18.3 points and 10.5 rebounds.
Towns’ numbers improved with each passing season. And in true Iron Man fashion, he played in every game through his first three campaigns. For perspective, that’s 246 consecutive games played.
Towns is still ranked high in several all-time categories for the Timberwolves, including total rebounds (3rd, 4,209), blocks (2nd, 523) and minutes played (6th, 12,307).
1. Kevin Garnett
When it comes to the best draft pick in Timberwolves history, there can be but one answer.
Minnesota selected Kevin Garnett with the 5th overall pick in the 1995 NBA Draft. The 6-11 big man would go on to play 14 seasons with the Timberwolves (1995-2007, 2015-16), earning a whopping 10 All-Star nods along the way.
In terms of Timberwolves franchise records, Garnett is at or near the top of nearly every one. He’s 1st in games and minutes played, as well as field goals and free-throws. On the glass, KG ranks first by a wide margin. Incredibly, his 10,718 total rebounds are 6,000 more than Kevin Love’s 2nd-place mark.
The defensive end of the floor is where Garnett truly dominated. He is still Minnesota’s leader in several of these categories as well, including blocks (1,590), steals (1,315) and defensive rebounds (8,130).
To many, the best days in Wolves’ history came with Garnett on the roster.
“I love my Timberwolves, I’ll always love my guys, I’ll always love the people who f–k with me there,” Garnett said in a recent interview with The Athletic. “I’ll always have a special place for the city of Minneapolis and the state of Minnesota in my heart.”
It should come as no surprise that Garnett tops our list of the best draft picks in Timberwolves history. Other notable names not mentioned in this list include Ricky Rubio, Corey Brewer, Isaiah Rider, Zach Lavine and Pooh Richardson.