The NBA Draft Lottery
One reason why the NBA is the best professional sport is the excitement and intrigue that proliferates through the off-season. The off-season’s excitement stretches from the playoffs until opening day, and there never is a dull moment, whether it be Summer League, free agency, the draft or (what happened tonight) the NBA Draft Lottery.
Tonight’s draft lottery was particularly heart-pounding for multitude’s of fans, even to someone like me who is not a fan of a specific team. Multiple franchises’ futures hung in the balance, and the lottery wasn’t very kind to all of them. Here are my quick reactions for each pick, and who I think they should pick:
1. BOSTON CELTICS — G Markelle Fultz, Washington
Wow. What a successful franchise. They last won a title in 2008. They were last in the conference finals in 2012. Now, just 5 years later, they’re the #1 seed in their conference, in the conference finals, and now they have the #1 pick. Only God knows whether they end up trading this pick, but even if they do: they’ll still take Markelle Fultz, as sure of a sure thing in this draft.
2. LOS ANGELES LAKERS — G Lonzo Ball, UCLA
…and the Lakers possible nightmare scenario of losing this year & 2019's first round pick is dead. The Lakers are going to be able to grab the guy that they’ve wanted all along, and start the Magic Johnson era off right. Lonzo Ball is a Cali-kid and will be a perfect fit in La La Land.
3. PHILADELPHIA 76ers — F Josh Jackson, Kansas
We’re so used to the Sixers having the best odds that the fact they jumped up to #3 doesn’t even seem big. (In actuality, the Kings moved into the top 3 but had to swap their pick with the Sixers. Regardless, the Kings got a better pick then they expected.) Philly was really hoping that one of the top 2 guards fell to them here, but they’ll just have to take the best player available (and possibly the best player in the draft) in Jackson.
4. PHOENIX SUNS — F Jayson Tatum, Duke
The Suns were one of the big losers here in the sense of not getting at top 3 pick, but they still get a very good and high upside pick in Tatum. The Suns seem set at the guard and big positions and they will take the best wing prospect available, and Tatum’s scoring ability will fit in well with their needs.
5. SACRAMENTO KINGS — G De’aaron Fox, Kentucky
The Kings lose their own pick, but still get a top 5 pick from the Sixers. They get a lead guard and a guy they can try to build their franchise around. Fox has the potential to be a 2 way force in the league and will be perfect for Sacramento. A Fox-Hield backcourt doesn’t look to shabby.
6. ORLANDO MAGIC — G Dennis Smith Jr., NC State
The Magic are another one of the losers here, but you can’t really call them losers because they just need players, period. Smith has the potential to be a high scoring guard in the league and the Magic would be lucky to have a player like that to jump start their offense.
7. MINNESOTA TIMBERWOLVES — F Jonathan Isaac, Florida State
Minnesota wins big here getting the versatile forward from FSU…but also a lot of people thought they had the steal of the draft last year, and Kris Dunn was not very impressive his rookie year. Regardless, on paper, Isaac fits in perfectly next to Towns and Wiggins and hopefully he will grow into a well-rounded player.
8. NEW YORK KNICKS — G Malik Monk, Kentucky
The Knicks also ended up with the short end of the stick, but in this scenario, actually got the steal of the draft. Monk would be perfect in New York, and would fit in great, wether they play the triangle or not.
9. DALLAS MAVERICKS — G Frank Ntilinka, Strasbourg
Dallas will be picking in the lottery for the first time in a long while, and they’re shooting for upside here. If everything works out for Frank, his size, length and shooting will make him a dominant guard in the league.
10. SACRAMENTO KINGS — F Lauri Markkanen, Arizona
The Kings go big with their 2nd lottery pick. Markkanen has the ceiling to be great, but in my eyes, is going to be more average than not. However, his shooting ability at his size would fit in great with the Kings. And can we all agree that Buddy Hield (a lottery pick), and the #5 and #10 picks in a loaded draft is a good return for Boogie Cousins? I mean, in a league where classic big men are practically worthless, getting that many shots at getting a franchise player is great, right? Especially when you’re getting rid of a “franchise player” who never once made the playoffs…or even came close? Sounds like a no brainer to me.
(Okay for the next 4 picks lets do lighting round):
11. CHARLOTTE HORNETS — C Zach Collins, Gonzaga
Another big white guy for Michael Jordan to draft.
12. DETROIT PISTONS — G Donovan Mitchell, Louisville
High upside combo guard that can play both ends on a team that needs perimeter play.
13. DENVER NUGGETS — F O.G. Anunoby, Indiana
High risk-high reward roll of the dice for a team that needs top end talent, but won’t have very many ways to get it.
14. MIAMI HEAT — F Justin Jackson, UNC
Probably the best perimeter player left in this draft.