The NBA Draft Lottery Holds Excitement for Fans

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The draft board and stage pre draft. (Image via Wikimedia Commons)

By Ethan Pearce, Assistant Sports Editor

 

The NBA Draft Lottery was last week, and we now know the exact order teams will be picking in when the draft is held in a few months. With the way the lottery odds have been flattened in recent years, the lottery holds a lot more excitement because there are lot more surprises. This year featured two teams jumping up multiple spots into the top four, and there’s plenty of intrigue at the top of the draft because there’s no consensus on the No. 1 prospect. 

The Minnesota Timberwolves grabbed the top spot. With a young core of Karl-Anthony Towns and D’Angelo Russell, they will have a chance to put together a nice team moving forward with those two players and a No. 1 overall pick.

The Golden State Warriors will pick second, but there’s been a lot of talk and rumors about them moving the pick in exchange for a more “win-now” player. They are in this spot due to the injury bug hitting hard this season, with both Klay Thompson and Stephen Curry missing nearly the entire year. They have a chance to add to their championship core now or pick up a player that could help them in the future when their All-Stars have retired. The 2nd overall pick is a very interesting spot to watch.

The Charlotte Hornets will pick third after jumping up multiple spots from 8th, and it’s hard not to imagine that they will go with whoever they believe is the best player on the board. With a bare roster and no clear player to build around, they will take a player they believe will be the future of this franchise, not just someone at a positional need. 

Rounding out the top five are the Chicago Bulls, who jumped up from 7th, and the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Most consider the top three prospects to be Anthony Edwards out of Georgia, James Wiseman out of Memphis and Lamelo Ball who played in Australia last year. 

Some consider this to be a relatively weak draft, but there are lots of quality players projected for the first round that teams are excited about. There may not be a clear star in this class, but there are plenty of prospects projected as solid role players that teams would love to get their hands on. There’s also a big chance for trades and movement at the top of the order, so this year’s draft will be one to keep a close eye on. 

The NBA changed the lottery process before the 2019 lottery to dis-incentivize tanking. Teams were aggressively being as bad as possible to get the best lottery odds, which was not good from a competition standpoint. The three worst teams now have equal odds to win the lottery, at just 14%, among other adjustments. These new odds showed up immediately with the New Orleans Pelicans winning the right to select Zion Williamson 1st overall in 2019. Coming in, they had just a 6% chance to win the pick. The Timberwolves had the third-worst record in the league this season, but came out with the No. 1 choice.

These flattened odds have deterred some teams from fully committing to being terrible because the odds are so different. Last year the Pelicans, Grizzlies and Lakers all jumped into the top four despite not being favored to do so. Some teams are still actively trying to be bad, but because there’s not as big of a difference between the worst record and the 5th worst, maybe coaches and GMs will decide that winning does better for ticket sales and player morality than losing does for slightly better lottery odds. Either way, the new draft lottery is a step in the right direction for a fully competitive NBA.

 

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