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Report: Timberwolves nearly picked Giannis Antetokounmpo over Shabazz Muhammad

Giannis Antetokounmpo, Tayshaun Prince, Ricky Rubio

Giannis Antetokounmpo, Tayshaun Prince, Ricky Rubio


The Bucks drafted Giannis Antetokounmpo with the No. 15 pick in the 2013 NBA draft.

Mavericks president Donnie Nelson supposedly wanted to draft Antetokounmpo with the No. 13 pick. Instead, Mark Cuban overruled him, and Dallas traded down.

That apparently wasn’t the only close call that could’ve prevented Milwaukee from nabbing the Greek Freak.

Apparently, the Timberwolves – who had the Jazz draft Shabazz Muhammad with the No. 14 pick as part of a trade – also strongly considered him.

Zach Lowe of ESPN:

They nearly picked Giannis Antetokounmpo over Muhammad before settling on Muhammad as the clock was ticking in the draft room, per several sources.

There are a couple problems with this:

1. The only people who could truly know this are Timberwolves executives, and they’re incentivized to make themselves look better. This could be completely true, embellished or a flat-out lie. It’s practically impossible to know without being in the room. I’d guess the people sharing seem trustworthy – Lowe is a responsible reporter – but there’s a limit on how much that means.

2. Teams never leak when their close calls turn out wrong. You’d never hear if the Timberwolves were also strongly considering Sergey Karasev with Muhammad and Antetokounmpo or if they nearly took Joel Embiid over Andrew Wiggins the following year.

So, let’s no give Minnesota too much credit. Unless you show your board before the draft, you get credit for the player you pick – not the players you almost pick.

Besides, selecting Antetokounmpo could’ve completely altered the Timberwolves’ trajectory. They might not have Wiggins or Karl-Anthony Towns if they’d taken Antetokounmpo.

But, just for fun, imagine a team with Antetokounmpo, Wiggins and Towns (plus Ricky Rubio, Zach LaVine, Nemanja Bjelica and Gorgui Dieng). Wow!