Timberwolves poised for post-season return after Dunn pick


Ben Simmons was the main headline maker, but if you are looking for a winner of the 2016 NBA Draft, look no further than the Minnesota Timberwolves.

The Timberwolves have not had a winning season since 2004-05 but, after the chips fell their way in Brooklyn, are in position to make a return to the post-season, even in a loaded Western Conference. 

Simmons and Brandon Ingram unsurprisingly went one and two to the Philadelphia 76ers and Los Angeles Lakers respectively, leaving Providence's Kris Dunn as the player widely regarded as the best available on the board.

But both the Boston Celtics and Phoenix Suns passed on Dunn, allowing Minnesota general manager Scott Layden to step in and take him at number five.

In selecting Dunn, the Timberwolves have given themselves a guard who can be a legitimate contributor on both ends of the court and could be used as leverage to acquire an established NBA star.

The Timberwolves have reportedly been in advanced negotiations with the Chicago Bulls for Jimmy Butler. 

Butler's appeal is obvious, he is a two-time All-Star who can operate as a shooting guard and a small forward and has been named on the All-Defensive second team on three occasions.

Career highs in points per game and assists per game were signs of an offensive improvement for Butler last season, who would reunite with new Timberwolves coach Tom Thibodeau should a deal go through.

Dunn would obviously have less of an immediate impact, however, with the Timberwolves likely to have to give up a couple of decent players to acquire Butler, Minnesota may be better served by looking long term and sticking with the man they drafted.

The 22-year-old Dunn has had a difficult journey to the NBA, he and his brother were often left to look after themselves growing up while their mother was in prison, but there is no doubt he has the skill set to succeed at the highest level.

At the college level for Providence Dunn was an extremely impressive defender who also excelled as a ball handler and a scorer.

Dunn racked up 16.4 points per game while also averaging 6.2 assists and 5.3 rebounds in his final season with Providence, and his presence on the court would give the Timberwolves another player who can succeed in a number of different areas.

Last year's number one overall pick Karl-Anthony Towns was a dominant rebounder and put up over 18 points per game en route to a Rookie of the Year award, following team-mate Andrew Wiggins in winning that honour.

Zach Lavine, who has been mentioned as potential trade bait in a deal for Butler, made progress along with Wiggins in the previous campaign, with many tipping the Timberwolves and their young core for future success despite Minnesota only winning 29 games in 2015-16.

Adding Thibodeau, who made the play-offs in every season of his run in Chicago and was named Coach of the Year in 2011, should aid the development of those youngsters and, regardless of whether it is Dunn or Butler who joins the ranks for next term, the Timberwolves are well poised to end their post-season drought.