The first overall pick of the 2020  NBA  draft belongs to the Minnesota Timberwolves.   For now.   While the Wolves could use their draft-lottery winnings on whomever they deem the …

The first overall pick of the 2020 NBA draft belongs to the Minnesota Timberwolves. For now. While the Wolves could use their draft-lottery winnings on whomever they deem the …

Matt Marton/Associated Press
Minnesota Timberwolves receive: Zach LaVine, Lauri Markkanen, 2020 No. 44 pick (via MEM)
Chicago Bulls receive: Jarrett Culver, James Johnson, 2020 No. 1 pick, 2020 No. 17 pick (via BRK)
Ever wondered what the Timberwolves would look like had they not cashed in their trade chips in the June 2017 trade for Jimmy Butler? Well, so has Zach LaVine.
“I think everybody wishes and wonders, ‘What could have happened,'” LaVine said in March, per Jace Frederick of the Pioneer Press. “But that’s how the NBA is, man. You could always hope and wish maybe that’ll come back again, but you never know.”
Since this is an expect-the-unexpected kind of league, why couldn’t the Bulls and Timberwolves hammer out another blockbuster that partly reverses the first one? Minnesota is again looking for more win-now help than it has on the roster, and an overhauled Chicago organization might be the perfect team to supply it.
Do the Bulls’ new decision-makers think LaVine is worth his $19.5 million salary? Are they prepared to stay patient with Markkanen after a disappointing campaign? Or would they prefer to remake this roster with three top-20 picks (their own landed at No. 4) and a recent lottery selection in Culver? A future built around, say, Anthony Edwards, Obi Toppin or Deni Avdija, Coby White and Wendell Carter Jr. could easily be more coveted than Chicago’s present.
The Wolves would have major defensive questions, but they knew that would be the case as soon as they linked Towns and Russell together. Adding a dynamic shot-maker like LaVine (25.5 points per game) and potential three-level scorer in Markkanen could rocket this offense from bottom-third to top-five. If they bring Beasley back, there isn’t a weak link in this attack.
Maybe Minnesota never turns into a true championship contender, but it could be an annual playoff participant and a tricky postseason matchup given all its firepower. The Wolves could stand pat and perhaps eventually elevate their ceiling that high, but there’s no guarantee it happens, and even if it does, it might take longer than the 24-year-olds Towns and Russell want to wait.
All stats courtesy of NBA.com, Basketball Reference and Stathead unless otherwise noted.
Zach Buckley covers the NBA for Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter, @ZachBuckleyNBA.

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