Every professional sport does its draft a little bit differently.
When it comes to theater, however, it’s hard to top the NBA Draft Lottery.
While one can debate the effectiveness of the lottery in combatting tanking, it sure makes the process of determining the order of draft selections exciting.
The ping pong balls ensured some teams were big winners and some others were pretty hard-luck losers.
It is of my belief that this draft is loaded with talent throughout the entire lottery and possibly even into the mid-20’s. With the cream of the crop being these five standouts per draft experts.
Cade Cunningham – Oklahoma State
Evan Mobley – USC
Jalen Green – G-League Ignite
Jalen Suggs – Gonzaga
Jonathan Kuminga – G-League Ignite
But as I stated it doesn’t stop there as guys like Scottie Barnes (FSU), Davion Mitchell (Baylor), Keon Johnson (Tennessee), Corey Kispert (Gonzaga) and Kai Jones (Texas) are all Uber talented and will be good to very good NBA players most believe.
And with these players, you have to wonder what teams were winners and what teams may have fallen to a spot where they may not get that impact player they were hoping for.
Three teams went in with a 14% chance of landing the top pick. The Detroit Pistons were the winners of the lottery and they almost assuredly will take Cade Cunningham the 6’8 guard from Oklahoma State who’s been the consensus No.1 on most draft boards since his senior year at Montverde Academy.
Pairing him with last year’s solid draft class of Killian Hayes, Saadiq Bey and Isiah Stewart, the hope will be that Cunningham becomes the face of the young, scrappy playoff team sooner than later.
The Cleveland Cavaliers minus the LeBron James years both stints are always at the top of the draft board.
In fact no team has had the No. 1 overall pick more since the inception of the Draft Lottery in 1985.
They used it to draft LBJ, Kyrie Irving, Anthony Bennett and Andrew Wiggins. All were key components in bringing the franchise it’s first ever NBA title and the city of Cleveland it’s first in 52 years in 2016.
And yes I know Wiggins wasn’t on the team but he was drafted and traded to Minnesota for All-Star big man Kevin Love.
Anthony Bennett well there’s no need to discuss his career. Cavs will pick in the top-3 next month, after picking fifth the last two drafts. Amazing considering they finished with the fifth-worst record in the league.
Their last two picks Darius Garland and Isaac Okoro have shown real promise, as well as another in Collin Sexton.
Perhaps Evan Mobley, Jalen Green, or Jonathan Kuminga will be joining them in the near future.
The Toronto Raptors are just two seasons removed from winning their first ever NBA title. And one could argue they were the biggest winners of this year’s NBA Draft Lottery.
They jumped from No.7 in the lottery seeding to land the fourth overall selection. The 2020-21 campaign was doomed from the start, with the Raptors not being able to play home games in Canada.
They instead played in Tampa Florida, due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
And while they still miss Kawhi Leonard, they still have a solid core intact led by, Pascal Siakim, Fred Vanvleet and OG Anunoby.
They did trade tough and gritty wing Norman Powell, but a bigger issue will be whether they re-sign star point guard Kyle Lowry this off-season.
If they can keep Lowry and add an elite rookie this team will be right back in the mix in the Eastern Conference playoff picture.
The Oklahoma City Thunder are in complete rebuild mode after they traded Chris Paul to the Suns after finishing a surprising fifth in the West with Paul, after trading franchise cornerstone Russell Westbrook to Houston.
In fact they took that Harden and Russ led team to seven hard-fought and eventful games in the “Disney NBA Bubble.”
They also decided to not retain Dennis Schroder from that team, instead opting to build around Shai Gilgeous-Alexander. The team will pick 6th after falling out of the top-5 altogether.
Fortunately, GM Sam Presti has stockpiled a ton of draft capital including 19 in the first round of the next seven drafts. Slated to miss out on the top five I mentioned, as they are a cut above the rest, the Thunder will still have plenty of intriguing names to choose from, barring they try to use some of those assets to move up.
The Minnesota Timberwolves were pretty bad most of the season until a late season surge hurt their NBA Draft Lottery substantially. The odds weren’t exactly in their favor to hang onto their top-3 protected pick as the No.6 seed.
They failed to have the ping pong balls bounce in their favor. Their seventh overall selection goes to the Golden State Warriors who fleeced them in the Andrew Wiggins for DeAngelo Russell deal.
But at least the team’s current unit of Karl-Anthony Towns, Russell, Anthony Edwards and Malik Beasley showed some promise when playing together.
The Houston Rockets hired Stephen Silas last off-season, after parting ways with the very overrated and defensively challenged Mike D’Antoni (who somehow is still a top candidate for head coaching jobs).
Silas couldn’t have expected that franchise cornerstone James Harden would force his way out of H-Town or that the team would trade Russell Westbrook for John Wall as well. But they did and left the first-year Black coach to pick up the pieces.
Falling to No.2 can’t be considered a failure, as at least they didn’t fall out of the top-4. But for a team that needs elite talent, Cunningham is the prize of this draft and they’re almost guaranteed to miss out on him picking behind the Pistons.