T-Wolves' pick owed to Warriors quickly losing lots of value

D'Angelo Russell, Anthony Edwards

Even a month ago, the Minnesota Timberwolves' top-three protected 2021 first-round pick, acquired by the Warriors in the Andrew Wiggins-D'Angelo Russell trade, still was viewed as one of the absolute best non-player assets in the entire NBA. 

The Timberwolves sat at 14-40, dead last in the league standings. It was looking increasingly likely that Minnesota would finish in a near-ideal scenario for Golden State, where that pick would either convey as an extremely desirable top-five selection in 2021, or would be unprotected in 2022 -- when the Timberwolves didn't project to be considerably better.

Well, a lot has changed in the month since. The Timberwolves have been playing much better. And at this point, it's highly unlikely that the Minnesota pick ends up being anywhere near as valuable as once believed.

The Timberwolves (22-47) beat the Detroit Pistons (20-50) on Tuesday night, which provided further clarity about where the Minnesota pick is likely to land. With that victory, the Timberwolves assured that they will finish the regular season with no worse than the third-worst record in the league. And, given that the Oklahoma City Thunder (21-48), Cleveland Cavaliers (21-48) and Orlando Magic (21-47) all are clearly trying to lose as many games as possible, there's a good chance Minnesota ultimately ends up with the fifth or sixth-worst record in the league.

Considering what the standings looked like a month ago, that's an absolutely terrible outcome for the Warriors. Back then, Golden State had a 59.9 percent chance of landing the fourth or fifth pick in the draft and a 40.1 percent chance of it conveying to 2022. Now, the odds are much, much worse.


Let's say Minnesota finishes with the fifth-worst record. If so, the Warriors would have a 12.7 percent chance at landing the fourth or fifth pick, and a 31.6 percent chance that it would be unprotected in 2022. That means there would be a 55.7 percent chance that Golden State would be picking anywhere between sixth and ninth overall in the 2021 draft order.

If the Timberwolves finish with the sixth-worst record, it's an even bleaker picture for the Warriors. In that scenario, Golden State would have only a 9.6 percent chance at landing the fourth overall pick, and the fifth pick would be entirely off the table as an option. There would be a 27.6 percent chance that the pick conveys to 2022, and a 62.8 percent chance that the Warriors would be picking anywhere between sixth and tenth in the order.

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The upcoming 2021 draft is widely viewed as being five-deep at the top, with there being a significant drop-off after Cade Cunningham, Evan Mobley, Jalen Suggs, Jalen Green and Jonathan Kuminga are off the board. While all of the aforementioned odds could change slightly in the event there are ties in the final standings, regardless, it's looking increasingly unlikely that the Warriors will have a chance to pick any of those prospects.

The Timberwolves have three games remaining this season. The Warriors need them to lose as many of them as possible, but even then, that might not be enough.

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