Before Thursday night, the Minnesota Timberwolves, the team who will be on the clock first overall in the 2020 NBA Draft, had never moved up in the draft lottery.
They had taken part in the process 20 times prior to Thursday and stayed in the same spot nine times, moving down 11 times, which is tied with the Sacramento Kings for the most times a team has moved down in the lottery in league history.
That’s why Minnesota winning the lottery and landing the No. 1 overall pick was truly a momentous occasion for the organization.
This season, the Wolves finished with the third-worst record basketball at 19-45 and had a 14 percent chance of landing the top overall pick, the same as the Golden State Warriors and Cleveland Cavaliers. Golden State wound up with pick No. 2 while Cleveland fell to No. 5.
The one negative about this being the year Minnesota finally moves up in the lottery is that it occurred on a year that’s considered a relatively weak draft class without a true consensus top prospect. Many believe Anthony Edwards out of Georgia will be the guy at No. 1 while others think that distinction should go to big man James Wiseman, who played just three games for Memphis before being deemed ineligible by the NCAA and dropping out of school to prepare for the draft.
Regardless, there’s no doubt the Timberwolves will take the major victory anyway, as landing the No. 1 pick gives the franchise a ton of flexibility, be it to acquire their next franchise cornerstone to fit alongside Karl-Anthony Towns and D’Angelo Russell or to trade down for multiple assets.
What’s interesting is that even with the huge win in this year’s draft lottery, the Wolves still hold the honor of statistically being the unluckiest team in lottery history, according to our net plus/minus stat, which shows how many spots each team has gained or lost since the draft lottery started. That’s how bad their luck had been before this year.
Just ahead of them on the bad luck list are the Dallas Mavericks and the New York Knicks, who have each move down in the lottery six times.
With Minnesota moving up for the first time, that leaves just the Dallas Mavericks, the Detroit Pistons, the Denver Nuggets and the Miami Heat as the only teams who have never moved up from their pre-lottery position.
On the other side of the spectrum, the three luckiest teams in lottery history are the Philadelphia 76ers, the Oklahoma City Thunder and the Charlotte Hornets, who have moved up eight times and three times apiece respectively.