The Minnesota Timberwolves lost 66 games during the 2014-15 season. But they won big Tuesday night. The Wolves landed the first pick of the 2015 NBA draft in the league’s annual lottery. Minnesota had an NBA-high 25 percent chance of landing the top pick based on its last-place finish in the leaguewide standings. The Los Angeles Lakers landed the second pick, with the Philadelphia 76ers drawing the third choice, the New York Knicks the fourth and the Orlando Magic the fifth. The top draft-eligible players include Kentucky big man Karl-Anthony Towns, Duke center Jahlil Okafor, Ohio State point guard D’Angelo Russell and Emmanuel Mudiay, a 19-year-old guard who played professionally in China this season.
The NBA draft will be held at the Barclays Center, home of the Brooklyn Nets, on June 25. Minnesota president and coach Flip Saunders said Tuesday’s lottery was a “very emotional” day for the franchise and its fans. He said that the team will consider all of its options with the pick. “Having the No. 1 pick gives us the opportunity to really evaluate everybody and really see what direction we want to go,” Saunders said. “At this point, we’re open. We’ll pick the best player for us on June 25.” Added Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor: “I’m just really happy for the Minnesota fans because they’ve been so loyal and they’ve been so patient with us and this has been such a difficult year.”
It is the first time Minnesota has ever had the No. 1 pick, though the team has Andrew Wiggins on its roster, who was the top pick in last year’s draft. The Wolves acquired Wiggins along with 2013 No. 1 overall pick Anthony Bennett before the start of the season as part of a trade with the Cleveland Cavaliers. If the Wolves keep the pick and do not trade the player, they would be the first team in league history to have three straight No. 1 picks on their roster, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. Taylor said trading the pick is “highly unlikely” but “part of the discussion.” This marked the first time since 2004 the team with the best shot to win the lottery came away with the top selection. The Magic selected Dwight Howard with that pick in 2004.
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