One of the NBA Draft’s what if’s and huge blunder of the past decade was the Timberwolves taking two point guards in the first round of the 2009 NBA Draft, neither of which being Steph Curry who was taken at No. 7 by the Golden State Warriors.
The Wolves took Ricky Rubio, the Spanish point guard sensation and wonder kid at that time at No. 5, and Syracuse point guard Jonny Flynn. Flynn was only with the team for a couple seasons and only lasted in the NBA for parts of four seasons in total, yikes.
Meanwhile, Steph Curry as we all know has won two NBA regular season MVP awards and two NBA titles. So how on God’s green earth could the T’Wolves take two point guards back-to-back in the same NBA Draft and not take Curry? Here’s how…
Here is an excerpt from a piece that former Minnesota Timberwolves General Manager David Kahn wrote for Sports Illustrated about the situation leading up to the 2009 NBA Draft with Steph Curry and his camp:
“In 2009, just days after my May 22 hiring as President of Basketball Operations for the Minnesota Timberwolves, the agent for Steph Curry told me that Steph’s father, Dell, did not want his son to be drafted by Minnesota—“No offense,” as I recall Jeff Austin, his agent saying to me at the Chicago draft combine.
Jeff Austin, who I’d known casually, had represented Dell Curry when he was a player. He had been handed Steph due to his connection to Dell and told me this was a family request. “I really need your help on this,” Jeff said, explaining why there would be no visit and perhaps even hell-to-pay. (As it turned out, this was the only time when I was with the Wolves that I ever ran into this type of draft problem.)…
So we now had the Nos. 5 and 6 picks in the draft. Taking not one, but two players who might not want to play in Minnesota? That would have taken real cojones. We took Rubio and Jonny Flynn, a ready-to-play point guard who started 81 games for us as a rookie and then fell victim to a terrible hip injury. At the time, drafting Flynn made a lot of sense: we didn’t have a single point guard on the roster and our staff had ranked him No. 1 among all point-guard prospects for not only his on-court play, but also his strong leadership qualities, a significant team need.”
While Kahn’s portrayal and defense of the Jonny Flynn decision is a little general manager speak, it is interesting that Dell and Steph’s agent told Minnesota that they would not want to play there and refused to workout for Minnesota in the pre-draft process. I can relate to the mindset of not taking two players who aren’t excited to be a part of the team in the same draft, with Ricky Rubio at No. 5, but in my view if you’re going to take one why not two? As you saw, Rubio came over and is still a member of the franchise at the moment and a disgruntled Steph Curry still would have played in Minnesota and had basically zero choice, a trio of Curry-Love-Rubio would have been a lot of fun.
I think the big lesson here and from the situation between the Nets and Kobe Bryant in the 1996 NBA Draft is that if you think a player is going to be special don’t worry about if he or his agent are trying to strong arm you into not drafting them, take them anyway and deal with it later.