Updated: June 26, 4:35 a.m. | Posted: June 25, 6:45 p.m.
There's a silver lining to having the worst win-loss record in the NBA: first pick in the draft.
The Timberwolves used that opportunity to pick Karl-Anthony Towns, a 19-year-old from New Jersey.
• The 6-foot-11-inch forward from the University of Kentucky helped lead his team to a brilliant season in which the Wildcats were undefeated until the NCAA Final Four, when the team lost to the University of Wisconsin.
• ESPN ranked him as the top high school player in the country when he was just a freshman at St. Joseph High School in Metuchen, N.J.
• He was part of the Dominican Republic national team (he was eligible because his mother is from the country), which fell just short of qualifying for the 2012 Olympics.
• Towns can play power forward or center, has a good midrange shot and is developing a strong post game. Steve Aschburner, a writer for NBA.com, says he also brings a strong defensive game.
"He's an elite shot blocker, he's a really good rebounder, his timing is good, he's able to do those things without veering into serious foul trouble," Aschburner said.
• Towns has worked out with the Timberwolves and coach Flip Saunders had praise for the young player.
"He's known right now more of as a defensive player," Saunders said. "He's very much underrated offensively. And if you base things on analytically, he's the top analytical player, when you look at everything he's done on a per-minute basis."
The Timberwolves traded two draft picks, at 31 and 36, to Cleveland for the right to select Tyus Jones, who played for Apple Valley High School. Jones, also 19, helped Duke win a national championship this year. Saunders says he's a natural leader.
In a conference call with reporters, Jones said he's excited to play for his hometown team alongside his hero, Kevin Garnett.
"I just remember growing up watching him play for the T-Wolves and now it's really just, it's surreal that I'm going to be on the same team on the same floor with him."
Towns also hopes to learn from Garnett. But he says he's excited about the whole roster, including Rookie of the Year Andrew Wiggins.
"I mean it reminds me a lot of Kentucky, the abundance of talent. I think as soon as we come together and we get on the same page, I think we could be a force to be reckoned with," Towns said.
Long time Timberwolves fan Malcolm Whitlock of Chanhassen is looking forward to a new season with a new team.
"Basketball I think is back now," he said. "For years, you only wanted to go see superstars on other team because you know your team wasn't going to have that chance of winning. Now we have a chance at winning."
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