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NBA Draft Lottery: Previewing what’s at stake for every team


Tuesday’s NBA draft lottery doesn’t have quite as much overt consequence to it as we’ve seen in past years—no team is losing its pick in consequence of the ping pong balls, and there will not be a sure-thing superstar lying in wait—but that doesn’t mean there’s not quite a bit on the road. We may not know what all of the implications are yet, however the randomness of lottery night all the time leaves a wide-ranging impact on the form of the NBA. The chaos draws ever-near.

There’s a very intriguing group of players at the highest of this draft, and a reasonably strong top 10 that ought to leave teams completely satisfied even in the event that they don’t strike gold on Tuesday and draft in the highest 4. There’s still ongoing debate about who the No. 1 pick needs to be, but as has been the case for the past several months, I’d consider Jabari Smith the frontrunner and Chet Holmgren as a dark horse, depending on which team wins the lottery. Do not forget that there are only 13 teams with a probability on the No. 1 pick this yr—the Thunder hold the Clippers’ pick along with their very own.

As usual, we’ll have a full mock draft coming Tuesday as soon as we all know the outcomes. Until then, here’s what you need to learn about each team heading into lottery night.

Houston Rockets (20-62)

Probability to win: 14%

Probability of top 4 pick: 52.1%

What’s at stake: The Rockets enter 12 months 2 of their rebuild hoping for a prospect that may complement Jalen Green, who was their prize in last yr’s draft and a player Houston hopes shall be its long-term centerpiece. After one other season that didn’t involve very much winning, they again can have the most effective possible odds on the No. 1 pick. Additionally they hold the No. 17 pick, acquired from Brooklyn within the James Harden trade. The Rockets used all 4 of their first-rounders in last yr’s draft, and there’s not much pressure for them to be good anytime soon, giving them flexibility to choose without over-concerning themselves with positional overlap (so long as whoever they take doesn’t step on Green’s toes). They’re in position to take probabilities.

That said, Houston does have a long-term need at forward and has a reasonably good probability so as to add one among Jabari Smith, Chet Holmgren or Paolo Banchero, who’ve differing skill sets but would potentially all slot in quite well here. They don’t must win the lottery to walk away pleased with how this shakes out, however it obviously could be a pleasant coup for the Rockets to have their alternative. They’re in a very good position so as to add talent and, unlike last yr, they aren’t susceptible to sending their first-rounder elsewhere, so the stakes aren’t quite as high this yr. The furthest Houston can fall is No. 5 (a 47.9% probability), which could be lower than ideal, but not the tip of the world.

Orlando Magic (22-60)

Probability to win: 14%

Probability of top 4 pick: 52.1%

What’s at stake: The Magic even have the most effective possible odds of winning the lottery and might pick no lower than sixth. They’d two top 10 picks last yr and walked away with two constructing blocks in Jalen Suggs (who had an uneven rookie yr) and Franz Wagner (who was tremendous and exceeded expectations). Orlando has the rights to all its future firsts and stays in a little bit of a transition period with its roster, with eight former first-round picks under the age of 25 under contract for next season, plus Mo Bamba, who’s hitting restricted free agency. Logic suggests they simply draft who they need and type the remaining out afterward, but some changes are probably due.

Orlando would theoretically be a very good fit for any of the highest forward prospects. It has historically been content to roster young players and permit the talent hierarchy to sort itself out. Jabari Smith and his shooting are probably the most effective fit for the roster as constituted, however the Magic would strongly profit from adding any of the highest guys. Jaden Ivey perhaps isn’t a natural fit with the guards already on the roster. Making the proper pick here could really speed up Orlando’s timeline for a return to playoff contention, but right away the chances are they’ll even be picking within the lottery next yr. Picking anywhere in the highest three could be ideal, and falling to No. 5 or No. 6 could be a tricky break.

Detroit Pistons guard Cade Cunningham (2) at Madison Square Garden.

Detroit Pistons (23-59)

Probability to win: 14%

Probability of top 4 pick: 52.1%

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What’s at stake: After winning last yr’s lottery and drafting Cade Cunningham, the Pistons are the third team with the most effective draft odds, but could also pick as little as seventh, making a wider variance in outcomes. Detroit continues to be at a juncture of its rebuild where it will possibly draft creatively, aided by the collection of Cunningham, who can toggle between positions and effectively play alongside just about anyone. Having noted that, it’s value mentioning that the Pistons figure to maneuver on from Jerami Grant via trade before he hits free agency in 2024, and in the event that they intend to re-sign Marvin Bagley long run and provides him real run at power forward, which will factor into who they like from among the many top prospects. (Banchero particularly would create some duplication.)

The Pistons aren’t under any win-now pressure, but they’re still very much laying the inspiration for whatever their next team will appear like. The earlier they’ll find one other franchise-quality talent to pair with Cunningham, the quicker they’ll jump-start their push for relevance. Considering that the roster is otherwise not that heavy on young talent—Killian Hayes hasn’t shown enough, and Isaiah Stewart projects as a job player—you could possibly argue it’s a bit more critical for Detroit than another teams to nail its pick this yr, wherever it might land. Smith and Ivey would each be excellent suits here, but landing any of the highest 4 prospects could be a win.

Oklahoma City Thunder (24-58)

Probability to win: 14%

Probability of top 4 pick: 55.2%

What’s at stake: The Thunder hold the unprotected rights to the Clippers’ pick, presently slotted at No. 12, which barely boosts their odds of a top-four result. That pick has a 1.5% probability of winning the lottery and a 7.1% probability of leaping into the highest 4, which coupled with OKC’s own odds gives them the strongest probability of any team to choose in that range, and an equal probability to the highest three teams to truly win it. Additionally they have the No. 30 pick, giving them three in the primary round. Think about that the Thunder own the rights to a possible 17 first-round picks in the following five drafts, and that Sam Presti probably has more job security than anyone within the league, and Oklahoma City has the power to take big swings and maneuver accordingly.

OKC fell from fourth to sixth in last yr’s draft and still wound up with a coup in Josh Giddey. Considering the team’s need for frontcourt talent, walking away from this draft without Smith, Holmgren or Banchero could be form of a bummer. The Thunder aren’t really attempting to be good right away, and considering their massive cache of picks, there’s not quite as much pressure here to deliver. But apart from Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, who continues to surface in trade rumors, there are good pieces but still no surefire star on the roster. Two lottery picks gives the Thunder an awesome opportunity so as to add talent this yr, and the unlikely (but possible) scenario they wind up picking twice in the highest 4 could be an unbelievable break. But don’t bet on it.

Indiana Pacers point guard Tyrese Haliburton (0) dribbles the ball up the court against the Philadelphia 76ers.

Indiana Pacers (25-57)

Probability to win: 10.5%

Probability of top 4 pick: 42.1%

What’s at stake: The Pacers lost 10 straight games to finish the season, enhancing their possibilities of an awesome end result within the draft. Indiana can pick no lower than ninth and can wind up with their highest selection for the reason that ‘80s. It hasn’t been the organization’s style to ever go full teardown, and so they have a terrific player to construct around in Tyrese Haliburton. Chris Duarte and Isaiah Jackson showed promise as rookies, but the remaining of the roster feels fluid. It is a key opportunity so as to add a blue-chip talent and avoid having to bottom out moving forward. Malcolm Brogdon, Buddy Hield and Myles Turner will likely be the topic of trade chatter.

Resulting from the structure of the lottery, Indiana is rather more more likely to pick sixth, seventh or eighth than it’s fifth, considering the likelihood teams leap ahead of them. Factoring in the standard of this class, with some strong options in the highest 10, they’re in pretty good position so as to add to their core. The Pacers have a necessity up front and could be a terrific and realistic fit for Keegan Murray, who figures to be available to them. Indiana hasn’t drafted in the highest 10 since taking Paul George in 2010, so that is a reasonably large opportunity so as to add a player to its core.

Portland Trail Blazers (27-55)

Probability to win: 9%

Probability of top 4 pick: 37.2%

What’s at stake: Portland doesn’t typically draft within the lottery, but opted to bottom out late within the season, moving C.J. McCollum on the deadline and dropping 11 straight games to shut its schedule. The Blazers still need to stay relevant with Damian Lillard in his early 30s, and the window to figure things out isn’t especially wide. This pick represents a critical potential value add for the franchise. Whether the Blazers opt to draft a young player or determine to trade the pick presumably hinges on how the lottery falls and which prospects can be found to them. They already caught a nasty break with the Pelicans winning the Western Conference play-in, which dropped Recent Orleans’s pick (acquired within the McCollum trade) out of the lottery to No. 15 and sent it to Charlotte as an alternative. Portland just elevated Joe Cronin from interim to everlasting general manager, so he would appear to have security to make decisions as he sees fit.

If the Blazers use the pick and wind up drafting seventh or eighth (as the chances suggest), there would probably be emphasis on choosing a player who may also help them next season. Considering the state of their rotation, it shouldn’t be all that difficult for a rookie to search out minutes, however the fit may even hinge on what Portland desires to do in free agency, and the way much it desires to commit to going all-in. Keegan Murray, Dyson Daniels and Bennedict Mathurin would all be strong suits for the Blazers as rookies who can probably help out early while allowing the team to maintain a post-Lillard future in mind. How Portland chooses to make use of this pick needs to be one among the more intriguing situations to watch because the draft nears.

Sacramento Kings (30-52)

Probability to win: 7.5%

Probability of top 4 pick: 32%

What’s at stake: It’s all the time hard to know exactly what the Kings are doing, but fit may come into play a bit more for them on this draft: they’ve made clear that they’re constructing across the De’Aaron Fox/Domantas Sabonis pairing, and so they drafted Davion Mitchell ninth in last yr’s draft. That might appear to put Sacramento out there for an even bigger wing, and will dissuade them from choosing certain guards and bigs with duplicate skill sets. In the event that they don’t move into the highest 4, they’re probably drafting seventh or eighth, which puts them in a reasonably great place to deal with a necessity. Shaedon Sharpe and Mathurin appear like good potential matches, and so they could also consider an enormous like Jalen Duren.

In the event that they do move up, things get interesting: the Kings could be a difficult fit for Jaden Ivey and Paolo Banchero attributable to the presence of Fox and Sabonis, respectively. Speculatively, that style of end result might make them a candidate to trade back, depending on where the pick falls. Regardless, Sacramento continues to push for a playoff spot, and I wouldn’t rule anything out. In the event that they do move up and wind up with Smith or Holmgren, it will be a big boost to their fortunes.

New Orleans Pelicans forward Zion Williamson (1) is congratulated by forward Brandon Ingram.

Recent Orleans Pelicans (36-46)

Probability to win: 6%

Probability of top 4 pick: 26.3%

What’s at stake: The Pelicans acquired the Lakers’ unprotected first-round pick as a part of the Anthony Davis trade, and L.A.’s downward spiral of a season became a serious boon for Recent Orleans, which retained a useful draft spot because it successfully pushed for the playoffs. Moving into the highest 4 could be sweet, but simply adding talent to the promising core in place is a very good end result for the Pelicans, who have already got two young stars in Brandon Ingram and Zion Williamson (who needs to be fully available to start out next season). They’ll be in good position to try this drafting eighth or ninth, which is form of a sweet spot for value within the lottery.

Recent Orleans has loads of future draft capital still coming from the Lakers and Bucks, helping it to facilitate trades and in addition take larger swings within the draft if need be. One or two of Daniels, Johnny Davis and Mathurin will likely be available to them, all of whom would slot in and add something different. There likely won’t be pressure on the Pelicans’ draft pick to play immediately, which supplies them some added flexibility when it comes to timeline. They don’t must get younger, and so they could look to make use of this pick as a chip so as to add one other veteran, but there’s actually a case to maintain adding to a young and comparatively deep roster.

San Antonio Spurs (34-48)

Probability to win: 4.5%

Probability of top 4 pick: 20.3%

What’s at stake: The last time the Spurs drafted in the highest 10, it was 1997, after they took Tim Duncan No. 1. Times have actually modified, and so they’re in a rebuilding phase, but San Antonio stays pragmatic: they went outside the box last yr and picked Josh Primo at No. 12, and clearly have an extended game in mind. They’ve assembled good young players, but don’t have a real star to anchor the franchise, and so they probably won’t get one drafting ninth. However the Spurs are confident of their player development capabilities, and while they’ve needed an enormous for a while, I wouldn’t assume they’ll be tethered to positional need in any way. Their roster continues to be just a few years from getting expensive and so they may be flexible here.

Potential options like Daniels and Jeremy Sochan neatly fit what San Antonio tends to value, as versatile, unselfish players who add value on each ends. Jalen Duren may very well be in play here in the event that they consider in his upside, although the emergence of Jakob Poeltl has made the middle position less of a difficulty. The Spurs may never be bad enough to nab favorable odds at the highest of the draft, so a leap into the highest 4 could be a large turn of events. If not, they’ll probably draft well anyway.

Washington Wizards (35-47)

Probability to win: 3%

Probability of top 4 pick: 13.9%

What’s at stake: The Wizards are in a reasonably great place in the event that they stay at No. 10, positioned to grab whichever player from the second tier of prospects slips to their spot. The large-picture item for Washington is keeping Bradley Beal within the fold—he has a player option to make a decision on this summer—but so long as he plans to stay around, the organization will attempt to work its way back into the playoffs. The Wizards probably must keep giving minutes to their array of recent first-round picks—Rui Hachimura, Deni Avdija and Corey Kispert have all yet to depart a serious imprint—and have a must strengthen the backcourt greater than anything. Still, it is a little bit of an underwhelming guard class, so this is also a chance for Washington to make use of this pick in a trade. Moving up within the draft might force them to rethink some things, but that will be a very good problem to have.

Recent York Knicks (37-45)

Probability to win: 2%

Probability of top 4 pick: 9.4%

What’s at stake: Well, the Knicks are still stuck in the midst of the pack. They don’t have great odds to maneuver up, and there’s a 77.6% probability they’re drafting eleventh. That also puts them in a very good position so as to add talent, but they’re a bit outside what looks just like the value wheelhouse. Recent York doesn’t have serious positional clutter and might take whoever it deems the most effective prospect, but in the event that they opt to not retain Mitchell Robinson, this may very well be a spot so as to add an enormous. Jalen Duren and Mark Williams may very well be suits here in that regard. The Knicks probably aren’t getting a franchise-changing player at this spot, but that doesn’t mean they’ll’t get well. The larger query is how much organizational patience they’ll have (and historically, the reply has been not much).

Charlotte Hornets (43-39)

Probability to win: 1%

Probability of top 4 pick: 4.8%

What’s at stake: The Hornets probably aren’t winning the lottery. But they do need a middle, with Mark Williams and potentially Jalen Duren available of their range. We’ll see whether or not that’s the direction they determine to go. Going to get a veteran big would offer a more immediate solution. Neither of their first-round picks in last yr’s draft (James Bouknight and Kai Jones) contributed as rookies, and it’s unclear how much patience they’ll get, also considering Charlotte’s pending coaching change. This might be going to be a transition yr for the Hornets, who will probably need to pay up big to maintain restricted free agent Miles Bridges, and so they don’t necessarily must add a rookie here, so staying flexible is perhaps smart. Also keep in mind that the Hornets have the fifteenth pick, giving them some options to maneuver around within the draft and/or take probabilities.

Cleveland Cavaliers (44-38)

Probability to win: 0.5%

Probability of top 4 pick: 2.4%

What’s at stake: The Cavs narrowly missed the playoffs after faltering within the play-in round, but remain on an upward trajectory going into next season. They actually don’t need bigs, and so they’re probably not moving up within the lottery, so that is an obvious spot for Cleveland so as to add a wing or trade its pick to enhance the roster. With Evan Mobley, Darius Garland and Jarrett Allen all blossoming, there’s way less pressure here than there was a yr ago. The Cavs appear like a playoff-caliber team moving forward, and that is a very good opportunity to attempt to find yet another piece.

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