Wednesday’s NBA Draft Lottery was seen as a contest for the rights to draft Kentucky big man Anthony Davis. That right ended up going to the biggest winner of the night, the New Orleans Hornets. The Hornets, however, were far from the only team that was happy at the end of the night. So, who were the biggest winners and losers from the lottery?
New Orleans Hornets: The Hornets were obviously winners because, well, they won the lottery and the opportunity to draft Davis. The Hornets hopped past the Cavaliers, Wizards, and Bobcats in order to claim the top pick. However, in addition to the first overall selection, they also have the tenth pick. With two top ten picks, the Hornets have a chance to become the biggest players in the draft. Add those two picks with their salary cap room and the fact that they will look to resign Eric Gordon, and the Hornets very well could be a fringe playoff team next season.
Portland Trailblazers: Speaking of teams with multiple lottery picks, the Blazers fit the bill too. The Blazers robbed the Brooklyn Nets at the trade deadline (more on that in a minute) and it paid major dividends tonight. The Blazers will own picks number 6 and 11. Not quite as good as the Hornets, but having the chance to add two lottery picks to LaMarcus Aldridge is enticing. There are rumors that the Blazers would be open to dealing one of their picks, which should add some intrigue to draft night.
Golden State Warriors: The biggest draft related story leading into the lottery was the talks between the Warriors and Jazz. The Warriors obviously wanted to keep their pick this season, but they had traded it to Utah. Due to the protection on the pick the Warriors needed the pick to be in the top 7, meaning if even one of the teams behind them jumped up ahead of them they lost their pick. Ultimately, the two teams were unable to come to an agreement. Luckily for the Warriors, no one jumped them and the pick ended up at number seven, meaning the pick stays with them. The Jazz will, in all likelihood, get to claim the pick in the 2013 draft, top 6 protected.
Anthony Davis: Charlotte may be a great city with a great passion for basketball and with the most recognizable owner in sports but the Bobcats are a mess. Davis would upgrade the team, but wouldn’t make it a contender by himself. With him a virtual lock to go to the Hornets, he’ll go to a team with other building blocks on the roster. He had to be ecstatic when the Bobcats were announced as having the second pick.
Brooklyn Nets: At the trade deadline, the Nets pulled off a surprise deal with the Trail Blazers that netted them Gerald Wallace (and his expiring contract). In the deal, they shipped this year’s draft selection to Portland as long as it wasn’t a top three pick. So, in exchange for a couple months of Gerald Wallace in a Nets uniform, they gave up the sixth pick in the draft. With their move to Brooklyn about to take place, they could have used another young player to market. They were really hoping they’d land a top three pick and thus get to keep the pick, and hopefully redirect it to Orlando to try and pry away Dwight Howard. Now, they have to get creative in convincing Deron Williams to stick around.
Charlotte Bobcats: So, you mean, they had the worst season in the history of NBA basketball and don’t even get Anthony Davis to show for it? Some people will be happy at the Bobcats unfortunate lottery result as they were accused of tanking (although it’d be awfully hard to prove since they have so little talent on that team). Still, they have the second pick so they should get a good player. This draft isn’t like the Greg Oden/Kevin Durant draft where the team with the second pick had the easiest job on draft night. This draft class is seen as having one all-star level talent, and little discernible difference in talent between picks 2-7. If anyone could have used the opportunity to pick the one “sure thing” in this draft it is Michael Jordan. He’s already screwed up the first pick (See: Brown, Kwame-2001) and the third pick (See: Morrison, Adam-2006). Now he faces a second pick in a draft with a lot of question marks after pick #1. Just to show how little faith the team’s fans have in the team, a facebook poll by the team asked what pick the team would end up with in the lottery. The number one vote getter was “Pick #1” and the second highest vote getter was a write in, “who cares, we still suck.” The team eventually removed the poll. The team better nail the second pick if they want to get the fans back behind them.
Cleveland Cavaliers: The Cavaliers are the luckiest losers in this draft. Yes, they fell from their projected spot of #3 in the draft, but they only fell one spot, to number 4. They no doubt had visions of Kyrie Irving lobbing passes to Davis dancing in their heads. There is a very real chance that Thomas Robinson will be the best player left on the board with their pick. Because they selected Tristan Thompson last year, they don’t need Robinson. The Cavaliers will no doubt get a good player, but the players that would help them the most may be gone by the time they pick.
Utah Jazz: They really only had roughly a 28% shot to take the Warriors pick at 8, but it did not happen, so therefore they will have to settle for the Warriors (top 6 protected) first rounder next year.
Now that the draft order is set, teams will continue to prep for the draft and workout potential selections. The draft will be held June 28th at the Prudential Center in New Jersey (which should be nice and awkward with the Nets leaving for Brooklyn).