You know why you’re here. I know why you’re here. No need to sugar coat. This is winners and losers, NBA Draft Lottery edition.
Let’s get right to it, shall we?
Wow. The Pelicans have a legitimate opportunity to build a contender from the ground-up. Not only did they just land the biggest fish since maybe LeBron James, but they’re now in the drivers seat of what could be the quickest rebuild or retool we’ve seen in a long time.
The Pelicans can try to convince Anthony Davis to stay, but if they decide to trade him, they’ll get a massive haul in return, including young players and draft picks they can use to build around Williamson, and fast.
Winner: David Griffin
The Pelicans’ new president of basketball operations should be christened as the owner of the NBA Draft Lottery. This is his fourth time his team came out with the No. 1-overall pick after the Cavaliers did so in 2011, 2013 and 2014. (Griffin was the full-time GM for only the final one of those three, but did work in the team’s front office).
His team’s track record with those picks, though? A little questionable.
Sure, they took Kyrie Irving No. 1 in 2011, but they also took Anthony Bennett in 2013 and Andrew Wiggins in 2014. Bennet, obviously, no longer plays in the NBA. Wiggins has been all potential for all of his career.
This should be a sure bet. Williamson is a player unlike the NBA has ever seen. But Griffin is the good luck charm that brought him to New Orleans.
Winner: Zion Williamson
If Williamson thinks he’s a loser because he won’t be going to the Knicks, he clearly hasn’t had fresh-made beignets, crawfish étouffée, or fried oysters in New Orleans.
NOLA is an amazing city, with plenty of basketball upside. Remember: This is a city that embraced DeMarcus Cousins, right up until he tore his Achilles and opted to leave for Golden State.
Here are ESPN and ABC’s top 10 highest-rated local markets for the 2018-19 regular season, according to the NBA:
2. Oklahoma City
3. New Orleans
6. San Francisco
10. Los Angeles
A LOT of surprises!
— Alex Kennedy (@AlexKennedyNBA) April 12, 2019
Nawlins isn’t New York City, not by a long shot. It may always be a football town. But it’s not Salt Lake City, either. (No disrespect!) Williamson might have even ended up in New Orleans anyway, if the Knicks decided to trade him for Anthony Davis.
He won’t be playing on a team where the ball could be in Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant’s hands. The offense will be built around Williamson. It’s not the biggest city, but it might be the best situation for him and his legacy. Williamson has never been to New Orleans. Someone take him to Bourbon Street.
Guess which two teams now have picks No. 3 and 4, and will engage in a bidding war with New Orleans for Davis’ services? Yup: the Knicks and the Lakers.
Davis’ chances of being dealt to one of the NBA’s two biggest markets just increased.
Somehow the Lakers jumped from having the 11th-worst record to the fourth-best pick in this year’s draft. Do you remember what they offered for Davis at the trade deadline?
It was Lonzo Ball, Kyle Kuzma, Brandon Ingram, Josh Hart, Ivica Zubac, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, and two first-round picks. Now, one of those first-round picks will be pick No. 4, which the Pelicans can use to pair with pick No. 1.
We don’t know if the Lakers’ offer will remain the same, but it’ll need to be equally as strong if they don’t want to live in a world where they watch both Davis and Paul George be traded and sign extensions elsewhere. Jumping up in the lottery will only help their cause.
Neither: New York
It’s tough to call the Knicks losers here, for the sole fact they have enough cap space for two max free agents, and one of those free agents will more than likely be the ever-unstoppable Kevin Durant.
The Knicks also are unlikely to get Murray State point guard Ja Morant, unless the Grizzlies sour on him. They’ll pick at three, where they’ll more than likely take get R.J. Barrett.
But the Pelicans will probably end up trading Anthony Davis, and now, the Knicks were fortunate enough to have ammunition to trade for him, even if it’s not Williamson. New York can now entice the Pelicans with an offer that could pair Barrett and Williamson in New Orleans, reuniting the Duke duo in the NBA.
It could be worse. They could have fallen to fourth.
The Suns have needed a point guard to pair with Devin Booker for basically ever, and if the draft order would have stayed intact, they were in position to draft Morant.
But the draft order didn’t stay intact — it was blasted, and in that blast, the Suns fell all the way down to pick No. 6. SB Nation’s Ricky O’Donnell doesn’t have another true point guard being selected in the first round of his mock draft.
The poor Hawks went from having excellent odds to jumping into the top four to falling all the way down to pick No. 6.
Here’s a live look at Hawks GM Travis Schlenk seeing his team’s draft standing: “Six?!?”
If there was a perfect landing spot for Williamson for purely basketball reasons, Atlanta was it. Trae Young plus Zion Williamson plus John Collins just wreaks of up-and-down, exciting, rim-rattling basketball. Now, we’ll never see that outside of video games.
Sorry Atlanta. It could have been worse.
Dallas and Philadelphia traded first-round picks with protections to move up in previous drafts (for the Mavericks, it was to move up for Luka Doncic; for the Sixers, it was to move up for … Markelle Fultz). Dallas’ pick had top-five protection; Philly’s was headed elsewhere unless it was No. 1 overall.
Those protections proved moot. The Mavericks’ pick (No. 10) will go to the Hawks, while the Sixers’ pick (No. 14) will go to Boston.
Those flattened lottery odds look so-so scary after all hell broke loose on draft lottery night. Any team that thought they were safe had that security blanket ripped from on top of them, then were doused with a bucket of ice water in the middle of REM sleep. It was a devastating night for some of the league’s worst teams, to say the least
Here’s what the draft order looked like before the lottery:
Two of the three worst teams in the league will pick fifth and sixth, respectively, and two teams tied for the sixth-worst record in the league will pick first and second. Mission complete, NBA. Tanking is no longer a golden ticket to the No. 1-overall pick.
This isn’t just a win for Adam Silver and the league office — it’s a win for fans that have had to put up with tanking franchises for years.