THE ping pong balls have stopped bouncing and the Draft order is set. Last night the NBA held their annual Draft lottery, with fans around the globe glued to the proceeding to see how Adam Silver’s new format unfolded. Let’s just say things didn’t go according to plan for teams projected to hold an early pick and as the picks unfolded we were left with some clear winners and losers.
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AFTER failing to acquire Anthony Davis before the deadline last season, many believe the Lakers still stand no chance of pairing ‘The Brow’ with LeBron James. However, armed with the 4th overall pick now, the Lakers have a handy tool in potential negotiations. We are still left wondering what other L.A. players will make up an offer tantalising enough to tempt New Orleans, but either way, Rob Pelinka now has the assets to at worst re-enter the conversation.
The Eastern Conference (Sort Of)
WHILE a lot of awful East teams took a tumble in the Draft order, there were some positives to take away from the lottery. Three of the four teams who landed a coveted top-4 selection call the Western Conference home, boosted by the fact that New York was left sitting at third. There are no guarantees that those top four picks will develop into stars of the league, but if they do, facing off with them fewer times each season is a plus.
THIS one doesn’t need a lot of expectation. The New Orleans Pelicans were clearly the winners of the draft lottery, vaulting up from 7th to 1st and in the process landing a franchise-altering star.
I for one don’t think the NBA Draft lottery is rigged; if it was the Knicks would be holding the first overall selection. However, it’s somewhat convenient that as NOLA deals with a potentially messy divorce from their superstar forward in Anthony Davis, they just so happened to land the top pick in the upcoming draft. Oh, and the team rumoured to be chasing AD all year long? Yeah, they also moved up seven spots to gain a handy trade chip. Coincidence?
NEARLY 12 months ago exactly the Dallas Mavericks moved up a handful of spots to land ROY favourite Luke Doncic from the Atlanta Hawks. As a result, the Mavs sent their pick this year (top-5 protected) to ATL and after failing to move from their spot, Atlanta now owns another lottery first-rounder. Conveying this pick as early as possible is a blessing for Dallas with the team now setting their sights on building around Doncic and Kristaps Porzingis, and while they’ll be a popular free agency destination given the talents of those two rising stars, having more draft picks to perhaps workshop a trade for a third stud is a great position to be in.
The King’s Hand
CALL it luck, call it chance, either way, Kyle Kuzma was the Lakers good luck omen that represented L.A. as they leapfrogged their way into the top-4. Kuz’s accessories might be the Lakers real good luck charm, with the sophomore forward rocking a Game of Thrones themed Hand of the King pin. No spoilers here, but it’s been a rough week for Tyrion Lannister, so it was nice for Kuz to give him something to smile about.
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ADAM Silver and the NBA made some bold changes to the Draft lottery format in an effort to stamp out tanking, and they worked to perfection. The Pelicans (+6), Grizzlies (+6) and Lakers (+7) all made significant jumps while teams that committed to losing this season weren’t rewarded. Whether you’re a fan of the new lottery format or not, there’s no denying that if the sole purpose was to eradicate tanking it at least worked in the short term.
Game 1 of the West Finals
AMONGST all the chaos from lottery night, we kind of forgot that the Playoffs are still going on! It was probably for the best as the Warriors rolled their way to an expected Game 1 W at home to the tune of 116-94, fueled by a 36-point Steph Curry night. Game 2 should see a significant spike in viewership.
THIS was not how the Zion Williamson sweepstakes were meant to end. Knicks fans around the world were all quietly praying that they could land the prize of the lottery and left the night disappointed. It’s a theme with New York’s franchise that they were hoping to shake and now they’ll be left wondering if Kevin Durant and/or Kyrie Irving are going to break their hearts again in a few short months time. At least they beat the Lakers though right?
Teams With the ‘Best Lottery Odds’
ENTERING the night, Cleveland, Phoenix and Chicago were all projected to land inside the top-4 and claim an early selection. However, thanks to the hysteria that unfolded, the trio of teams all moved back three spots in the draft pecking order and were forced to settle for the 5th, 6th and 7th overall pick respectively. It’s not exactly the result they wanted after spending an entire year putting themselves in that position.
The Grit & Grind Era in Memphis
IT’S hard to call Memphis losers from lottery night after they launched up to the second overall spot, but their selection in June could signal the end of an era. Point guard Mike Conley is the last noteworthy remaining from the previous “Grit ‘N Grind” team’s that went on multiple postseason crusades and all signs point to Memphis drafting his successor Murray State PG Ja Morant at No. 2. If they do so, then there’s a chance that Mike Conley could stay on as a mentor, but given his expensive contract, I’m sure the Grizz would happily jump at a chance to move him along via trade. Conley’s exit would all but usher in a new chapter in Memphis’ basketball history.
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