Minnesota Timberwolves: 25 Best Players To Play For The Timberwolves

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The Minnesota Timberwolves joined the NBA as an expansion team in 1989, reaching the conference finals just once. Who are their 25 best players?

Mar 2, 2016; Minneapolis, MN, USA; A general view of the Target Center during the second half of the game between the Minnesota Timberwolves and the Washington Wizards. The Wizards won 104-98. Mandatory Credit: Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

The Minnesota Timberwolves were admitted to the NBA as an expansion franchise as part of a four-team burst in April 1987, when new franchises were also approved for Charlotte, Miami and Orlando.

The Charlotte and Miami franchises began play in 1988-89, with Minnesota and Orlando beginning the following season.

It marked the Twin Cities’ second foray into the NBA—the first, the Minneapolis Lakers, joined the league from the National Basketball League in 1948 and moved to Los Angeles in 1960.

Minnesota also had two attempts in the old American Basketball Association, each lasting just one year—the Minnesota Muskies in 1967-68 and the Minnesota Pipers, relocated from Pittsburgh, in 1968-69.

The first owners of the Timberwolves were Marv Wolfenson and Harvey Ratner and the team began play in the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome before moving to its permanent home, the Target Center, in 1990.

Ratner and Wolfenson attempted to sell the team to a group that wanted to move it to New Orleans in 1994 before the NBA rejected the move. Glen Taylor bought the team later that year and still owns the club.

If basketball is called a game of runs, the same could be said for Minnesota’s playoff record.

The Timberwolves missed the playoffs in each of their first seven seasons, qualified for eight straight years and have not been to the postseason since 2004, when the team won its only two playoff series and reached the Western Conference Finals before losing to the Los Angeles Lakers.

The team has never won 60 games in a season, setting its franchise record with a 58-24 record in 2003-04. Conversely, there have been a whopping nine seasons in their 26-year history with 60 or more losses, with the franchise record of 67 set initially in 1991-92 and tied in 2009-10.

Minnesota was also 16-66 in 2014-15, 17-65 in 2010-11, 19-63 in 1992-93, 20-62 in 1993-94, 21-61 in 1994-95 and 22-60 in both 1989-90, the Timberwolves inaugural season, and 2007-08.

The franchise’s .391 winning percentage (847-1,319) is the worst among active NBA franchises.

The team has had seven personnel decision-makers in 27 seasons, with Kevin McHale the longest-tenured of the group from May 1995 through December 2008. No one else has lasted even four years on the job.

Flip Saunders held the job since May 2013 until taking a leave of absence in September 2015, shortly before his death from Hodgkin’s lymphoma the following month.

The Timberwolves have employed 10 coaches, including Saunders—far and away the winningest coach in franchise history—twice. He had a record of 427-392 in parts of 11 seasons, first from 1995-2005 and then again since June 2014. His 17-30 playoff record with Minnesota encompasses the franchise’s entire postseason history.

No other coach has won even 100 games for the Wolves.

Sam Mitchell–an original Timberwolf–took the coaching reins in 2015-16 and led the club to a 29-53 record before former Chicago Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau was brought in as coach and handed control of personnel decisions on April 20.

The franchise has never had an Executive of the Year or Coach of the Year winner.

Despite all of the appearances in the NBA Draft Lottery, Minnesota secured the top overall pick for the first time in franchise history in 2015, selecting Karl-Anthony Towns from Kentucky.

The Timberwolves have selected twice once (2011), third twice (1992 and 2008), fourth twice (1994 and 2010) and fifth five times, most recently taking Providence guard Kris Dunn in June 2016 as well as selecting there in 1993, 1995, 1996 and 2009.

Here are the 25 best players in the history of the Minnesota Timberwolves. Players had to have appeared in 150 games and averaged a minimum of 20 minutes per game for the team to qualify for this list, which loses two players from last year’s update in favor of a pair of current T-Wolves.

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