It's the final week of the NBA regular season and the Timberwolves' NBA Draft Lottery chances will be set in stone in a matter of days.
With four games to go the Wolves (21-47) could finish with the second, third, fourth, fifth or sixth worst record in the NBA. Houston has locked up the worst record, while the Pistons have the second-worst record at 20-40. The Thunder sit third worst at 21-48, while the Wolves, Magic and Cavaliers are tied fourth worst at 21-47.
Teams with the three worst records have a 40.1% of landing a top-three pick; the fourth-worst has a 36.6% chance to land in the top three; and the fifth- and sixth-worst records have 31.6% and 27.6% chance, respectively.
For Minnesota, there's no point in talking about what their odds of landing any pick outside of the top three because the Wolves loses the first-round pick to the Golden State Warriors unless it's one of the first three selections.
Remember, Minnesota traded Andrew Wiggins and the top-three protected pick to the Warriors for D'Angelo Russell.
A top-three pick in the 2021 NBA Draft is extremely valuable because the draft class is loaded with talent, including the most likely three top choices, Cade Cunningham, Jalen Suggs and Evan Mobley.
So how this week plays out will play a role in determining if the Wolves enter next season with another blue chip prospect or with a roster that resembles what currently is. Here's how Minnesota finishes the season this week:
- Tuesday: at Detroit Pistons
- Thursday: Denver Nuggets
- Saturday: Boston Celtics
- Sunday: Dallas Mavericks
Detroit is awful so the Wolves are a solid favorite to win that game, but the final three at Target Center are against teams jockeying for playoff position, meaning they'll likely give the Wolves their best shot.
Either way, it's not all bad for Minnesota. Even if they lose the pick, they still have a trio of franchise cornerstones to work with in Anthony Edwards, Karl-Anthony Towns and Russell. They'll also get Malik Beasley back from injury, so the cupboard isn't totally bare.
Towns, Edwards and Russell have led Minnesota to seven wins in their last 12 games, giving hope to a future that could include playoff games for a franchise that has reached the postseason just once since the 2003-04 season.