Kings or Timberwolves: Who Has Been Worse?

Sacramento Kings - Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports
Sacramento Kings - Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports /

There are rumors that during the Kings coaching search, they told potential candidates that they expect a big jump in wins next season similar to how the Minnesota Timberwolves went from a 23-49 record in the 20-21 season to 46-36 record this past season.

Going into the 21-22 season, Minnesota only reached the playoffs one time since 2006 and that was the season they had Jimmy Butler on their roster. If it weren’t for that one year rental, they would have been in the same boat as Sacramento when it comes to lack of playoff appearances.

Yet, Minnesota receives a pass by talking heads and social media when it comes to mocking while no one will ever miss an opportunity to roast the Kings.

Whether it’s Mike Brown coaching in the finals, Mark Jones calling the game, Vivek Ranadive sitting in the stands, or his daughter Anjali becoming assistant GM for the Stockton Kings, Sacramento is always the object of derision.

Just look at the past season. While nobody in the league was watching (let alone talking about) Tyrese Haliburton and the Sacramento Kings, as soon as he was traded, every casual fan pretended they knew Haliburton’s strengths and weakness, questioning the KANGZ decision to trade for all-star Domantas Sabonis.

Tyrese went from a promising NBA player on the Kings roster to a surefire superstar before he stepped off the plane in Indiana. All it took was news outlets reporting he was traded away from the Kings. If the Kings were involved, it couldn’t be a good move, right?

The Kings are the laughingstock of the NBA, but do they deserve that honor? Have they been the worst franchise the past 16 seasons?

Lets compare the Sacramento Kings and the Minnesota Timberwolves. 

Season          Minn record             Sac record

06-07                32-50                     33-49

07-08                 22-60                    38-44

08-09                 24-58                    17-65

09-10                 15-67                    25-57

10-11                 17-65                    24-58

11-12                 26-40                    22-44

12-13                 31-51                    28-54

13-14                 40-42                    28-54

14-15                 16-66                    29-53

15-16                 29-53                    33-49

16-17                 31-51                    32-50

17-18                 47-35                    27-55

18-19                 36-46                    39-43

19-20                 19-45                    31-41 (28-36 before bubble. 3-5 in bubble)

20-21                 23-49                    31-41

21-22                 46-36                    30-52

TOTAL              454-814                467-809

Even with the Timberwolves making the playoffs twice the past 16 seasons, they have a worse cumulative regular season record over that period than the much-maligned Sacramento Kings.

In the NBA, if you aren’t making the playoffs, tanking is the way to get a better draft pick, so Minnesota being worse than the Kings can be “justified” by saying they were just tanking.

However, when their draft history is brought into the equation, there is no excuse for them having a worse record than the Kings.

Lets look at how many times the Kings and Timberwolves have had a top 5 draft pick in the past 16 years. 

Draft                   Minn                                                       Sac

2008                   O.J. Mayo (3rd)

2009                   Ricky Rubio (5th)                                 Tyreke Evans (4th)

2010                  Wesley Johnson (4th)                         DaMarcus Cousins (5th)

2011                   Derrick Williams (2nd)

2012                                                                                    Thomas Robinson (5th)

2014                   Traded for Andrew Wiggins (1st)

2015                   KAT (1st)

2016                   Kris Dunn (5th)

2017                                                                                    De’Aaron Fox (5th)

2018                                                                                    Marvin Bagley (2nd)

2020                   Anthony Edwards (1st)


Minnesota: Two number 1 picks and traded for a third. One 2nd pick. One 3rd pick. One 4th pick. Two 5th picks. 

Kings: One 2nd pick. One 4th pick. Three 5th picks. 

Minnesota has had two number 1 draft picks and traded assets for the rights to another number 1 pick in Andrew Wiggins (We won’t count Anthony Bennett. He shouldn’t have been selected number 1).

Not even looking at the good players who have passed through Minnesota the past 16 seasons, like Zach Levine, with five top 3 picks since 2006, the lack of success should be criticized.

Great players can be found throughout the draft, but the projected surefire best players/top tier talent is usually expected to be drafted within the top 2 or 3 picks. LeBron or Carmelo. Oden or Durant. Ayton or Luka. Ja or Zion. Even the upcoming 2022 Draft is considered a three player draft (I disagree).

There are usually only a couple of prospects who, according to experts, have any chance at going number 1 in any given draft. These players don’t always develop into the best player in the class, but they are the prospects scouts and GMs believe have the most potential to become a multi-time all-star.

Yet, with all the terrible decisions the Kings front office has made (not to mention how the negative perception of the Kings has made it harder for them to get draft prospects to visit Sacramento), the Wolves have had more opportunities with higher picks, have had multiple all-stars in Kevin Garnett, Kevin Love, Jimmy Butler, and KAT (the Kings only had Cousins), and still, going into this past 2021-2022 season, the only time they made the playoffs during the Kings drought was due in large part to a one year Jimmy Butler rental.

All of those chances, all of that draft capital and the Timberwolves still have a worse record than the Kings these past 16 years? No excuses. Minnesota has been the worse-run franchise between the two.

Having said all that, I’d take the worse record and two playoff appearances over the current state of the Sacramento Kings every time.