Why Warriors should want T-Wolves to lose as much as possible

  • Editor's note: This story originally was published on Jan. 21, and all stats are reflective of that date.

The losses just keep piling up for the Minnesota Timberwolves, who fell to 3-10 on the season after losing to the Orlando Magic 97-96 on a Cole Anthony buzzer-beater.

Minnesota now is 1-9 in its last 10 games and has the second-worst record in the NBA behind only the Detroit Pistons. The Warriors own the Timberwolves' top-three protected 2021 first-round pick as part of the Andrew Wiggins trade that already has proven to be quite one-sided. If the pick lands in the top three, the Warriors' get the Wolves' unprotected 2022 pick.

While conventional wisdom might dictate that the Warriors want the Timberwolves to lose but not too much, the flattened NBA lottery odds should have the Warriors hoping the T-Wolves keep racking up the losses.

Starting with the 2019 NBA Draft, the league reduced the odds so that the teams with the three worst records would share an equal chance (14 percent) of earning the top pick. Each of the top three has a 13.4 percent chance of getting the No. 2 pick and a 12.7 percent chance of earning the No. 3 pick, meaning the teams with the three worst records have a 40.1 percent chance at landing in the top three, and a 59.9 percent chance at landing outside the top three.

While being one of the three worst teams would give the Timberwolves a better shot at retaining their pick, it would give the Warriors a better shot at landing a pick in the top five than if Minnesota finished with the fifth, sixth or seventh-worst record.


A team in the bottom three is guaranteed a top-seven pick. The team with the worst record can't pick outside the top five, the team with the second-worst record can't fall past No. 6 and so on.

Say Minnesota ends up with the second-worst record in the NBA. That would give the Warriors a 59.1 percent chance at landing either the No. 4, 5 or 6 pick. Whereas, if the Wolves finish with the sixth-worst record, there is a 62.77 percent chance the pick lands between the six and 10, a 9.62 percent chance it lands at No. 4 and a 27.6 percent chance the Wolves keep the pick in the top three.

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As you can see, in this scenario the Warriors have a better chance at getting a higher pick if the Timberwolves are in the bottom three than if they finish somewhere in the five to eight range. The better the Wolves play, the higher the chances are that the Warriors will get a pick outside the top five.

Of course, the more the Wolves lose, the better chance they have at retaining their pick. Really, Minnesota losing is in the best interest of everyone, except for coach Ryan Saunders. And then it's just a matter of how the ping-pong balls bounce.

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