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Well, that was exciting.
Three teams were able to jump into the top four, and the teams with the highest odds for the top pick ended up no higher than third. At the end of the night, the New Orleans Pelicans ended up with the top pick, with the Memphis Grizzlies, New York Knicks, and Los Angeles Lakers in the second through fourth positions. Now that there’s been some time to recover from another crazy draft night in Chicago, we’ll take a look at some of the winners and losers of the latest NBA Draft lottery.
New Orleans Pelicans
We’ll start with the obvious: The New Orleans Pelicans entered the day with just a 6% chance at getting the #1 overall pick, but David Griffin was able to work his magic once again. This is the fourth time his team has won the draft lottery.
Assuming the Pelicans take Zion Williamson with the first pick, they’ve landed a once in a generation talent who they can either pair with Anthony Davis to form a formidable frontcourt, or build around him with players like Jrue Holiday and possibly Jahlil Okafor.
New Orleans is still rebuilding, but adding the top pick in this draft may have just sped up the process. With Anthony Davis suitors in New York and Los Angeles also getting top four selections, it’s hard to see how this could’ve gone any better for New Orleans.
The Grizzlies may have wanted their pick to fall, since now their first-round pick next season is only top-six protected. However, they’ll surely take the second overall selection this year. Ja Morant has been seen as the second-best prospect in this draft and Memphis could select him there to take over for Mike Conley. Memphis had around the same odds for the top pick as New Orleans did, so their rebuild can also take a major step after a bit of good fortune.
Los Angeles Lakers
Imagine the cries of conspiracy if the Lakers had received the first overall pick. It hasn’t been an easy month for the team either: Magic Johnson resigned, and their coaching search hit more than a few snags. In result, they jumped up from the eleventh-best odds to the 4th overall pick.
Even though there is supposed to be a drop in talent after the top three players, the Lakers should get value if they trade this pick in order to get more talent around LeBron James. If they do decide to keep it and take a player, there should still be some solid options available in DeAndre Hunter, Cam Reddish, or Jarrett Culver.
All the hype suggested that Williamson would be heading to New York, apparently even he was rooting for the Knicks to win the lottery and “quickly left the room” after the Pelicans were announced as the winners. Since that didn’t happen, it now could place him in a bit of an awkward situation. Could Williamson potentially go the route of football stars John Elway and Eli Manning and flat out refuse to play in New Orleans, especially since many feel the Pelicans wasted the first seven years of Anthony Davis’ career? It’s tough to see something that drastic happening at this point, but crazier things have happened.
Zion Williamson was QUICKLY whisked out of the room after Pelicans were announced the winner of the draft lottery. Source said the former Duke star was rooting to go to New York, but now is going to New Orleans.— Marc J. Spears (@MarcJSpearsESPN) May 15, 2019
New York Knicks/Phoenix Suns/Cleveland Cavaliers
Of the three teams with the highest odds to get the top pick, only one (Knicks) even made it into the top three. One year after winning the lottery with the worst record, the Suns were likely the biggest losers of the night, falling all the way down to #6. This is a tough break for a team that is a solid point guard (or a new ownership group) away from competing.
The Cavaliers didn’t get much farther and ended up with the fifth overall pick. Even though the Knicks ended up in third, they’ll be disappointed not to end up with Zion Williamson, who they believe could’ve turned them into a contender along with two star free agents.
Not only did the Celtics get the lowest possible lottery pick (although it was expected), but they also missed a chance for a second pick when Memphis got past the top eight. Even though that will benefit them next year, the Celtics also had to watch as two different competitors for Anthony Davis got higher draft picks to wave in front of the Pelicans. It may not have been a worst-case scenario for Boston, but it certainly could’ve gone better than it did.
Honorable Mentions: Atlanta Hawks, Chicago Bulls
Featured Image David Sherman/Getty Images