I don't mean to rehash the awful luck the Timberwolves had back in 1992, when they were overwhelmingly favored to get the #1 pick, or at least the #2 pick, and missed out on both (Shaq and Zo Mourning, respectively) and ended up with Christian Laettner. That's old news, and not one I care to think about any further. Let's face it--neither O'Neal or Mourning were going to stick around in Minnesota for any longer than they were contractually obliged to. Nor am I going to talk mock the 2nd round picks of the Wolves that year (for the record, Marlon Maxey and Tim Burroughs) in what was a pretty lame draft year.
But here's the thing--it was a lame draft year, and yet the number of guys who were taken in the first round who ended up as Timberwolves at some point in their career is kind of staggering.
Let's go through by the picks. Obviously, O'Neal and Mourning never ended Wolves, and pretty safe to say at this point that they never will.
Everyone who knows the franchise knows that Laettner (#3) was a bit of bust, but one that wasn't totally unexpected. His departure was greeted, mainly, with a sigh of relief.
#5 LaPhonso Ellis--played one year for the Timberwolves, at the age of 30, and was one of his last truly productive seasons, statistically. I remember it being a season of frustration, in which he would be impressive for one game, and then would disappear for 2 or 3 or 7 games in a row.
#6 Tom Gugliotta--someone the Wolves got before his prime, got to enjoy his prime, and let him go to increase their chances of keeping Stephon Marbury (which did not work out).
#8 Todd Day--less than 400 minutes played, and 26 three-pointers made!
#14 Malik Sealy--a great pick-up by the Wolves, who brought defensive energy and a kindred spirit to defensive dynamo Kevin Garnett. He had been a hero of Garnett's when KG was playing in high school, and the two formed an instant bond. So, of course, in the keeping of the luck of the Wolves franchise, Sealy was killed by a drunk driver coming home from Garnett's birthday party.
#15 Anthony Peeler--another decent pick-up. Streaky as a motherfucker, and I believe the coiner of the term "the Zoo Crew" for the Wolves' bench players. As is often the trend, he was never better than his first year with the Wolves.
#22 Oliver Miller--no one remembers this stint, and rightfully so. He was hugely overweight, and could barely manage 10 minutes a game. It was about at this moment that Miller decided that basketball just wasn't worth the fucking effort. It was still a couple of years before he retired, but this was his sad, and yet hilarious swan song.
#24 Latrell Sprewell--boy, possibly the steal of this draft, considering the folks listed above who went before, not to mention guys like Lee Mayberry, Hubert Davis, Randy Woods, and Adam Keefe. But of course, he choked PJ Carlesimo, and became a bargain basement free agent. The Timberwolves picked him up, and along with The Alien, did some great post-season work before falling to the Lakers. The less said about the season after that, the better.
So, that's eight first-round draft picks (of 27) from a single year that all played for the same franchise, with hardly any overlap at all. I can't say whether this is a singular thing or not, because it would require way too much research on my part, but I'm guessing that it kind of is.
Just going off my own somewhat faulty memory, the Wolves ended up with 4 of the first round picks in 1993, and only 2 from 1994, so this does seem special(?).
It is some talent, bad luck, over the hill talent, and bad idea jeans reclamation projects, all boiled down in one craptacular year of the draft. And that one year sums up what the current regime of the Timberwolves are both up against, and can learn from.