Rubio, Flynn, then Curry: Remembering one of the strangest NBA Draft moments in recent history

As told by friend/miserable Minnesota fan Malcolm Kelner.

If you were unaware of how horribly the Minnesota Timberwolves fucked up their draft night seven years ago, here’s a native Minnesotan checking in to remind you. Read closely and you’ll pick up on the marquee naive sense of optimism that T’Wolf fans are known for:


LAST MARCH, in an effort to keep innovating its product, Facebook rolled out a feature called “On This Day.” By using it, you could instantly be taken down a trip down memory lane to see your old statuses, wall/timeline posts, pictures, and friendships on their respective anniversaries.

For most people, using the now-popular feature triggers a deep sense of nostalgia. For me, it’s a cheap laugh over the scalding hot takes I had in high school on different sports topics that more often than not—OK, almost always—turned out to be dead wrong.

Seven years ago on this day, I posted this status, and it probably takes the cake as the one that most poorly stood the test of time.

Dumb-Malcolm

As a refresher on what I was referring to, the day before the 2009 NBA Draft, new Minnesota Timberwolves General Manager David Kahn traded Randy Foye and Mike Miller to the Washington Wizards in exchange for a package of the No. 5 pick in the draft, Oleksiy Pecherov, Etan Thomas and Darius Songaila. The deal gave the Wolves back-to-back picks in the lottery, because they already owned the No. 6 pick.

…and I, as a die-hard Wolves fan (apparently along with two of my friends), was mad about this?! I mean, Jesus H, this was straight-up highway robbery by Kahn! He managed to nab the No. 5 overall pick for a rebuilding team in an absolutely stacked draft, while only having to give up role players in Randy Foye and Mike Miller, who were starters in Minnesota by default.

Most NBA fan knows what happened next. With the 5th pick in next day’s draft, Kahn drafted Spanish sensation and point guard Ricky Rubio, and with the 6th pick, he inexplicably took another point guard, Syracuse’s Jonny Flynn. With the 7th pick, the Golden State Warriors snatched up Davidson’s Stephen Curry.

Much speculation has been made on what could have been for the Wolves if they had cashed in on their not one but TWO opportunities to select Curry, and ideally, if they had drafted him along with a player who played a position other than point guard (what a novel concept) by also taking DeMar DeRozan, who ended up going 8th to the Toronto Raptors. Those two and Kevin Love could have become a more-than-adequate “Big 3” in Minnesota, but I digress.

David Kahn’s short but destructive tenure as Timberwolves GM was marked by those drafting failures in 2009, 2010 (drafting Wesley Johnson 4th overall, one pick before Demarcus Cousins and six picks before Paul George), and 2011 (Derrick Williams 2nd overall).

However, while people remember how Kahn and the Wolves had two chances to get Curry—and therefore a chance to turn around the franchise—twice, most forget the brilliant move to get the first of the two picks in the first place, by essentially giving up nothing. Foye and Miller for Curry certainly wouldn’t have been a terrible move.

Seven years later, and still without a playoff appearance since 2004, it’s a new era in Minnesota Timberwolves basketball. The team has a promising young core in Karl-Anthony Towns, Andrew Wiggins, and Zach LaVine, and a respected basketball man in Tom Thibodeau calling the shots on and off the court. With the 5th pick in tonight’s draft, the team could solidify that core for years to come, or once again, select a bust and extend the playoff drought further.

Hopefully when I “See My Memories” another seven years from now, tonight’s draft will be one worth remembering.


“Hopefully,” Malcolm says. But probably not. Here’s a full look at that strong 2009 draft.

2009draft
Image via Getty

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