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The Cleveland Cavaliers secured the first overall pick in the 2011 NBA Draft by winning the NBA Draft Lottery on Tuesday night. And on Wednesday, the mortal enemy of the Cavs — LeBron James — shared his thoughts on Cleveland getting the first selection in the draft as he spoke to the media prior to Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Finals.
“I’m happy for the franchise and happy for the fans. I think it is a good step for them.”
Surely that means a lot to Cavs fans. As does LeBron’s opinion on Kyrie Irving, who most think Cleveland will select with their No. 1 pick:
“If the Cavs pick him it’ll be a great pick for them,” James said. “He’s a true point guard who can score, in this day and age in the NBA it is a point guards’ league. If they decided to take him, which it looks like, they’ll have a good one.”
The Minnesota Timberwolves haven't had the best luck in the NBA Draft in recent years. So it's no surprise that SB Nation's T'Wolves blog, Canis Hoopus, is skeptical about Minnesota's second pick in the 2011 NBA Draft:
Fate is a cruel mistress, is she not? Once again, the Wolves fall in the draft order, surrendering poll position (and Kyrie Irving) to the Cavaliers. I have a feeling that five years from now, this will be written about in the same vein as just missing out on Shaq, or just missing out on Grant Hill. Once again, the Wolves are one pick behind the big talent dropoff in the draft.
While no one's comparing Kyrie Irving or Derrick Williams to Shaq or Hill, the pool of available players is certainly much shallower behind this draft class' Big Two, not necessary Tom Ziller's mock 2011 NBA Draft has the T'Wolves taking Williams at the second pick. So Minnesota's not exactly the victim of fate's uppercut.
Actually, there are a lot of positives here. Minnesota general manager David Kahn, off-color whining about a fixed lottery aside, is almost assuredly not going to screw up the Irving-Williams dilemma. The Timberwolves didn't slide out of the top three, like the Raptors and Wizards did, or trade a top-three pick like the Clippers and Nets did. The second pick now becomes great trade bait if Minnesota would rather add a veteran than draft another youngster. And Kahn probably won't reach for a point guard like Brandon Knight or Kemba Walker at the second pick, though he might have been sorely tempted to do that at the third spot.
Well, he probably won't, anyway.
The Cleveland Cavaliers used Nick Gilbert's good luck to walk away from the 2011 NBA Draft Lottery with two top-five picks, the first step to recovering from losing LeBron James last summer. In between, there were awkward interviews, conspiracy theories from David Kahn, and some poetic justice for the Clippers. Let's relive it all!
On Tuesday night, the Cleveland Cavaliers won huge in the NBA Draft Lottery. Owner Dan Gilbert, who has certainly been known to wear his heart on his sleeve before, had plenty of reason to celebrate. Over at our Cavs blog, Fear The Sword, Gilbert took time out to answer a few questions.
Q: Talk about your emotions from seven months to now.
It has been a roller coaster ride. Obviously shocking events took place last summer for not just myself, but a lot of people in Ohio. It was a slow, long and painful haul to get through it, and maybe this will be the final straw of getting over the hump and getting to the other side and having a lot hope for the future, and that's what we need.
Gilbert also spoke on the emotions he felt while watching his son, Nick, represent the Cavs. Read the rest over at Fear The Sword.
The Cleveland Cavaliers won the No. 1 pick in the 2011 NBA Draft in Tuesday's lottery, but not with the team's own selection. It was the pick acquired in a trade with the Los Angeles Clippers that landed the opportunity to draft Kyrie Irving. That pick had a 2.8 percent chance to land at No. 1.
The Clippers sent the unprotected first-round pick to Cleveland along with high-dollar point guard Baron Davis in a swap for Mo Williams and Jamario Moon. It was a pure salary dump for the Clippers, who actually had a great deal of cap space last summer, but couldn't land any top-flight free agents. You don't typically send away unprotected lottery picks in salary dumps, but the Clippers run a different type of kitchen.
Clippers general manager Neil Olshey engaged in some immediate damage control, telling NBA.com's Scott Howard-Cooper that the Cavs wouldn't have done the trade with protections on the pick, and that had L.A. not acquired Williams, it would not have finished the season 11-11. That will be small consolation to Clippers' fans who have lost a shot at pairing a playmaker like Irving with a beast like Blake Griffin.
The 2011 NBA Draft Lottery not only cleared up the small matter of which team will pick No. 1 in the June selection -- that'd be the Cleveland Cavaliers -- but also settled a few question marks in the second round. The draft order for picks 31-60 depended in part on whether some lottery teams tied in regular season record picked higher than the teams they were tied with.
For example, since the Nets were tied with the Kings in the regular season, and the Jazz owned the Nets' first-round pick, and Utah was slotted ahead in the first round after the lottery, the Kings get to leap ahead of the Nets in the teams' back-to-back second-round picks.
If that sounds confusing, just take a peep at the NBA Draft order for the second round. (See the first round order, as well.)
35. Sacramento Kings
36. New Jersey Nets
38. Houston Rockets
40. Milwaukee Bucks
42. Indiana Pacers
43. Chicago Bulls
46. Los Angeles Lakers
47. Los Angeles Clippers
48. Atlanta Hawks
52. Denver Nuggets
53. Orlando Magic
54. Cleveland Cavaliers
55. Boston Celtics
56. Los Angeles Lakers
57. Dallas Mavericks
58. Los Angeles Lakers
60. Sacramento Kings
Be sure to check out our NBA Draft 2011 hub.
The 2011 NBA Draft order has been set after Tuesday's lottery resulted in giving the Cleveland Cavaliers the No. 1 pick in the June draft. The NBA Draft Lottery, held in the league's Secaucus, N.J., offices, not only determined the top three picks in the draft, but settled some related matters in the second. Below is the draft order for the first round.
1. Cleveland Cavaliers (via Los Angeles Clippers)
4. Cleveland Cavaliers
10. Milwaukee Bucks
12. Utah Jazz
13. Phoenix Suns
14. Houston Rockets
15. Indiana Pacers
17. New York Knicks
18. Washington Wizards (from Atlanta Hawks)
19. Charlotte Bobcats (from New Orleans Hornets)
20. Minnesota Timberwolves (from Memphis Grizzlies)
22. Denver Nuggets
23. Houston Rockets (from Orlando Magic)
25. Boston Celtics
26. Dallas Mavericks
27. New Jersey Nets (from Los Angeles Lakers)
30. Chicago Bulls
The Cleveland Cavaliers have won the 2011 NBA Draft Lottery, and with it the No. 1 pick in the NBA Draft, to be held June 23. The Cavaliers acquired the pick in a midseason trade with the Los Angeles Clippers that sent Baron Davis to Cleveland for a package led by Mo Williams. Kyrie Irving is projected to be the top pick, and he'll surely fit well on a star-starved roster. The Clippers had the eighth-worst record in the NBA during the regular season, giving the Cavs a 2.8 percent chance to take the top pick with the Clips' selection.
The Minnesota Timberwolves won the No. 2 pick in the draft after finishing this season with the worst record in the league. Derrick Williams, a swing forward, seems like a top option, though Minnesota could look for a center like Enes Kanter or Jonas Valanciunas.
The Utah Jazz won the No. 3 pick. This is where the draft should get very interesting, with any number of prospects from the college ranks and overseas in play. UConn guard Kemba Walker, Turkish center Kanter, Lithuanian center Valanciunas and Czech forward Jan Vesely have been mentioned in this spot, and players like Kentucky guard Brandon Knight and Congan forward Bismack Biyombo could jump up.
The 2011 NBA Draft order will be set in the NBA Draft Lottery at 8:30 p.m. ET on ESPN. Twelve teams will vie for a chance to win one of the top three picks in the June draft, with the Minnesota Timberwolves taking the best odds (25 percent) into the drawing.
Here's how it works: a hopper is filled with 14 balls, each numbered 1-14. The hopper will produce a four-ball combination; the 1,001 possible combinations are split among 14 teams, with teams finishing with a worse regular season record earning more combinations. (The final combination -- 11-12-13-14 -- is discarded if drawn, as it will be assigned to no team.) Whichever team owns the drawn combination wins the No. 1 pick. Handshakes are exchanged. The balls are replaced in the hopper, and four more are drawn. The keeper of this combination wins the No. 2 pick. (The team that won the No. 1 pick cannot win No. 2 or No. 3, unless the combinations are from two separate sets based on a trade.) The same happens for the No. 3 pick. At the point, all remaining teams are slotted by reverse regular season record; as such, the Wolves can pick no lower than No. 4.
The bottom 14 teams earn a trip to the lottery, but this season two of those teams -- the New Jersey Nets and Los Angeles Clippers -- have traded their first-round picks (to the Utah Jazz and Cleveland Cavaliers, respectively).
Coverage of the NBA Draft Lottery begins at 8:30 p.m. ET on ESPN; the actual reveal should happen around 8:42. Teams with the best chance of drawing the No. 1 pick are the Timberwolves, Cleveland Cavalier, Toronto Raptors and Washington Wizards.
Be sure to check back immediately after the broadcast for the full draft order.
The 2011 NBA Draft Lottery is set for 8:30 p.m. on Tuesday. Twelve teams have a chance to win the No. 1 pick in the June draft -- and with it a chance to draft Kyrie Irving, Derrick Williams or another prospect. But not all chances are created equal. To prevent outright tanking, the NBA has a weighted lottery that gives the worst teams the best opportunity to win the No. 1, 2 or 3 pick, but doesn't make it a certainty.
Below are the odds that each team will win the No. 1 pick or a top three pick. (Only the top three picks are up for grabs.)
|Team||No. 1 Pick||Top 3 Pick|
|Jazz (from Nets)||7.5%||25.3%|
|Cavs (from Clippers)||2.8%||10.0%|
Once the top three picks are determined, the remainder of the top 14 picks in the draft will be arranged by reverse order of regular season record.
Kyrie Irving, a top candidate for the No. 1 pick in the 2011 NBA Draft, will attend Tuesday's NBA Draft lottery in Secaucus, N.J., reports Jonathan Givony of DraftExpress. The lottery will determine NBA draft order and decide which team will have the opportunity to make Irving the top choice.
In the last two seasons, the presumptive No. 1 pick appeared on the ESPN lottery broadcast via satellite after the order had been revealed. A year ago, John Wall, looking serious (per usual), freaking out some faint-of-heart Washington Wizards fans by seemingly less than thrilled about that team winning the chance to draft him. (As it turns out, he was just nervous about being on live national television.)
Irving's situation is a bit different, because he isn't quite the consensus No. 1 that Wall or Blake Griffin (2009) were. While most mock drafts do have Irving on top, should a team like the Wizards or even the Minnesota Timberwolves win the lottery, Derrick Williams from Arizona could be the top pick. Enes Kanter and Jonas Valanciunas have also been mentioned as potential top choices.
If the Wizards do win the top pick -- with Wall as their representative -- things might get a bit awkward on the set.
The 2011 NBA Draft Lottery will be broadcast by ESPN on Tuesday, with coverage beginning at 8:30 p.m. ET. The event, held at the NBA's offices in Secaucus, N.J., will lead into Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals between the Dallas Mavericks and Oklahoma City Thunder.
An NBA press release indicates that the draft order will be revealed beginning at 8:42 p.m. ET. The league typically reveals the order for the lottery teams outside of the top three picks in reverse order (beginning at Pick No. 14), then takes a commercial break before revealing the winners of the top three picks.
NBA deputy commissioner Adam Silver emcees the event. ESPN will have a studio crew, as well; the 12 team representatives -- two teams have already traded out of the lottery, sending their picks to teams already with lotto picks -- will be introduced and a couple will be interviewed at the top of the broadcast.
In previous years, ESPN has interviewed the projected top pick via satellite after the order was announced. It's unclear whether projected 2011 No. 1 Kyrie Irving will appear, however.
The Houston Rockets have the least chance of moving up in the 2011 NBA Draft Lottery after finishing the 2010/11 season with a 43-39 record, the best among the 14 non-playoff teams. The Rockets have just five possible combinations in the lottery and therefore have just a 0.5-percent chance of getting the number one pick.
Only twice has the lottery team with the best record moved up into the top three: in 1993, when the Magic improbably won the lottery, and in 1999, when the Hornets got the third pick. The odds are long, but it has happened.
The Rockets desperately need size. Yao Ming's contract and feet are up, and without him, Houston was mediocre defensively and were doomed to finish near the .500 mark despite a very good offense. Chuck Hayes has dutifully manned the position for the last couple years, but he is so undersized that it puts the Rockets in a tough position. Picking where they are likely to pick probably isn't going to yield the kind of starting-caliber big man the Rockets need. Their best hope is to find someone who can provide depth and play in a rotation along with Hayes, Luis Scola and promising rookie Patrick Patterson.
Houston could also use a small forward, though Chase Budinger really came on at that position last season.
Even with Kyle Lowry's excellent season, it will be tough to turn down the dynamic talent of Kyrie Irving. Derrick Williams could also fit in at small forward and in small lineups. But the Rockets aren't winning barring a miracle, so this is a moot point.
Further down the list, an athletic big man like Kansas' Markieff Morris, Texas' Tristan Thompson or Florida State's Chris Singleton would make a lot of sense.
The Rockets won the lottery in 2002, going from the fifth-worst record to winning the Yao derby. The Rockets had the 14th pick last year, and were the eighth pick in 2006, when they drafted Rudy Gay and traded him to Memphis.
The Phoenix Suns remain in a weird spot, with a most valuable player in his mid-30s (Steve Nash) and an otherwise young roster in serious need of star power. That the Suns continue to pick in the middle of the first round instead of the top three isn't helping; Phoenix was in the playoff race until late in the regular season, which means that having finished with the league's 13th-worst record, the Suns have just a 0.6 percent chance of leaping to the top spot in the 2011 NBA Draft.
Everything But Point Guard, But Actually Point Guard Too. The Suns have two players right now whose Wikipedia page will ever have the word "All-Star" on it -- Grant Hill and Nash. These guys are a combined 75 years old. That's not an exaggeration. Nash is 37, Hill is 38. (Note that I'm considering Vince Carter a sure-bet waiver wire entry.)
As such, no position is out-of-bounds. Marcin Gortat looked nice toward the end of the season, so penciling him into the future rotation might lead Phoenix away from a defensive-minded big man. Also, being the Phoenix Suns might lead Phoenix away from a defensive-minded big man. Look for wing scoring to be a big draw wherever the Suns land. Carter was disappointing after replacing Jason Richardson, and Alvin Gentry has the opposite of faith in Josh Childress.
The Suns know the value of an elite point guard better than most teams, so you'd have to expect Phoenix to take Kyrie Irving if they improbably land the No. 1 pick against all odds. Nash could groom Irving quickly before being dealt or leaving in free agency. If the Suns should be so lucky to land at No. 2 or 3, they'd count their blessings and register whoever they felt the best player available was; Derrick Williams from Arizona would be a natural fit, a much-better (much much much) Channing Frye.
Since the creation of the lottery, the Suns have picked in the top three once: Armen Gilliam at No. 2 in 1987. Phoenix got that spot despite having the seventh-worst record in the NBA. Since then? No leaping, no luck.
The Golden State Warriors are in the NBA Draft lottery for the 16th time in the last 17 seasons, an unprecedented streak that makes them the real veterans of the lottery process. The Warriors finished with the 11th-worst record in the NBA in 2010/11 and will therefore have a 0.8 percent chance of winning the No. 1 overall pick. They have less than a three percent chance of moving up and nabbing one of the first three picks, so in all likelihood, they will pick 11th.
The Warriors need defense and depth everywhere, especially up front. Andris Biedrins had a very bad year and lost all his confidence. Ekpe Udoh showed flashes at the end of last season as a rookie, but he still needs to develop to be a regular starter. David Lee, meanwhile, struggled in his first year playing power forward rather than as a small center. Golden State could always use more bodies up front.
Also, a wing defender would be ideal. The Stephen Curry-Monta Ellis backcourt has functioned for now, but eventually, getting better defense at shooting guard is necessary.
On the off chance this would happen, Derrick Williams would be ideal in the Warriors' up-tempo attack, assuming it actually is an up-tempo attack next season. Kyrie Irving is also a possibility, though that would necessitate trading Ellis.
More realistically, someone like Kahwi Leonard or either of the Morris twins from Kansas would be excellent additions for what the Warriors need.
The Warriors won the lottery in 1995 despite having the fifth-worst record, but have only picked in the top three one other time. In 2002, the Warriors took Mike Dunleavy Jr. third overall. Otherwise, the Warriors have not fared well in the lottery, even though they have had plenty of chances.
The Charlotte Bobcats are back in the NBA Draft lottery after a one-year hiatus. They had the ninth-worst record in the NBA last season, and therefore have a 1.7 percent chance to win the 2011 NBA Draft lottery. That is certainly a longshot, but it's also the same odds the Chicago Bulls had in 2008 when they won the right to select Derrick Rose.
The Bobcats have a promising young backcourt in point guard D.J. Augustin and shooting guard Gerald Henderson, both of whom made tremendous strides for coach Paul Silas last season. To supplement that duo, the Bobcats need help up front. Tyrus Thomas is the team's most promising frontcourt player, but he was hurt a lot last season and still struggles to stay on the floor. Kwame Brown had a surprising season at center, but he's not a long-term option. Boris Diaw is the incumbent power forward, but he has a big contract and may be traded.
The Bobcats may also want to draft another wing player in case they trade Stephen Jackson, who, like Diaw, does not fit with their future and has a big contract.
The Bobcats would probably select Arizona's Derrick Williams and slide him into the starting power forward spot, where he could do all the things Diaw does now. Kyrie Irving might be tempting, since Augustin has just one good year under his belt, but the Bobcats believed in him last year and also have a strong backup in Shaun Livingston.
Enes Kanter may also merit consideration.
The Bobcats have moved up above their draft position just once in their short history, and that was in 2006, when they used the No. 3 pick on Adam Morrison. They fell one pick short of Deron Williams and Chris Paul in 2005, and traded away the pick before Joakim Noah in 2007 to get veteran Jason Richardson.
For more on the Bobcats, visit Rufus on Fire.
The Milwaukee Bucks have little hope of rising up to the top spot in Tuesday's 2011 NBA Draft Lottery; the Bucks finished the season as the league's 10th-worst team, and as such take a 1.1 percent chance at the No. 1 pick into the affair. More likely, the Bucks will be picking No. 10 in the June draft. All's not lost, of course; that's where Milwaukee picked up Brandon Jennings in 2009. That turned out pretty well.
Milwaukee boasts one of the least attractive offenses in recent memory; on top of being ugly, it also happens to be bad. Part of that falls on the slow recovery of Andrew Bogut's obliterated arm (injured in the spring of 2010, still not right). Asumming Bogut is back up to snuff on offense, Milwaukee will be better on that end. But adding a solid scorer in the forward or two-guard spots would be a boon, too.
Back-up point guard is also a need spot; the Bucks struggled to recover from Luke Ridnour's departure in free agency. It's hard to go wrong anywhere on the roster. The Bucks need wings badly, but have little depth behind their two stars (Jennings and Bogut).
Jennings is one of the few young point guards whose team is in the lottery and whose team would probably pass up (or trade) the right to draft Kyrie Irving. Derrick Williams is wonderful, and would be a wonderful fit (so long as he defends hard enough for Scott Skiles' taste). In the No. 3 spot, should Milwaukee be so fortunate, either Enes Kanter or Kemba Walker could work; a Jennings-Walker backcourt would lack size, but would be an absolute blur on the court.
The Bucks have won the lottery twice: in 1994 (hello, Glenn Robinson) with the second-worst record and in 2006 (Bogut) with the sixth-worst record. No team has ever won from the 10th-worst position.
For more on the Bucks, visit Brew Hoop.
The Detroit Pistons find themselves back in pretty much the same spot they were in last year: somewhere in the middle of the NBA Draft lottery hoping for luck as they look for a franchise player. Last year, they did well to snag big man Greg Monroe with the No. 7 pick. This year, they had the seventh-worst record and therefore have a 4.3 percent chance to win the lottery. The worst they could do is 10th.
A lot depends on the status of point guard Rodney Stuckey. Stuckey had a decent year in 2011, but is a restricted free agent, and the Pistons must decide if he is the man to be at the position for the foreseeable future. If the answer is yes, they can look elsewhere in the draft. Detroit has some youth at small forward (Jonas Jerebko, Austin Daye), and Monroe is a building block up front, but they could certainly use more scoring punch in both spots.
On the wings, Ben Gordon has been a disappointment since signing a big contract in 2009, and Rip Hamilton and Tayshaun Prince will likely be elsewhere next season even though Hamilton is under contract. Up front, Monroe could certainly use a second low-post threat to take advantage of his versatility.
If the Pistons decide that Stuckey isn't the guy to man the position, they will have to find a replacement, and that has to be their No. 1 priority.
You'd have to think that they take Kyrie Irving and jettison Stuckey. Derrick Williams is a very good prospect, but I'm not sure how he fits with Monroe, and Detroit needs a floor general or a space eater more than a floor spacer. Enes Kanter would also be intriguing, especially because he could play well off Monroe, but this team needs a floor general more to make life easier for everyone else, and Irving is that guy.
If they do not win the lottery, watch out for Kentucky's Brandon Knight, who could be a lot of the things Irving would be if they decide to move on from Stuckey.
Last year was the Pistons' first year in the NBA Draft lottery since 2001, and they didn't move up. The last time they had a top-three pick was in 1994, when they took Grant Hill.
The Utah Jazz, thanks to the Deron Williams trade, have two lottery picks. Had the Jazz held onto Williams, they'd likely have zero. The more valuable of Utah's picks is New Jersey's unprotected first-round choice; the Nets finished tied with the Kings for the No. 5 worst record in basketball, and as such have a 7.5 percent chance of grabbing the top pick. The Jazz finished with the 12th-worst record themselves; that pick comes with a 0.7 percent chance of grabbing No. 1. So together, Utah has a 8.2 percent shot at No. 1.
Despite the trade of D-Will, point guard isn't a pressing need; Devin Harris, part of that return package, is a one-time All-Star and suitable for a team on the rebuild. Shooting guard is a major concern, assuming Gordon Hayward (the team's 2010 lottery pick) projects to small forward. The Jazz have little depth at center with Mehmet Okur's injuries and free agency. Power forward is stacked; the wings are the problem here.
If Utah jumps up, it'd be difficult to pass on Kyrie Irving (as it would be for most teams). The Jazz know what a difference a top-tier point guard can make, and in my estimation wouldn't hesistate to scoop up the Duke product. If they hit No. 2, it'd be an interesting choice between Arizona forward Derrick Williams -- who could play three but might be more comfortable at power forward, where the Jazz have Derrick Favors and Al Jefferson and Paul Millsap -- and a center-type like Enes Kanter or Jonas Valanciunas.
Kemba Walker could also have a shot at No. 2 or No. 3; an NBA-ready guard would jump-start the rebuild and (theoretically) paper over a gaping hole.
Constant success tends to drain a team's ability to win the lottery, but I don't think Utahns would trade the Sloan-Malone-Stockton era for anything. The Jazz didn't actually win the opportunity to pick Williams at No. 3 in 2005; Utah had the No. 6 pick, but traded it and a few other assets to Portland for the third slot. That was a good trade. Beyond that, Utah has not picked in the top three in the history of the lottery.
For more on the Jazz, visit SLC Dunk.
The Sacramento Kings finished tied with the New Jersey Nets for the fifth-worst record in the NBA in 2010-11; when teams finished tied in the standings, they combine and split their lottery combinations, with the winner of a coin toss earning any extras on the table. Triumph! The Kings won a coin toss, and thus have a 7.6 percent chance of winning pick No. 1.
The Kings' front office has focused on wanting to add another ball-handler and more shooting. That could mean a true point guard, or another combo guard to play off of Tyreke Evans, or a playmaking small forward. That's the position at which the Kings are thinnest; Francisco Garcia, Donte Greene and Omri Casspi jockeyed for love there last season, and it's pretty obvious that none of them are currently starter-level contributors, at least for more than a couple weeks at a time.
DeMarcus Cousins showed an ability to play both at center (with a smaller partner like Jason Thompson or since-traded Carl Landry at power forward) and at power forward (next to center Samuel Dalembert, a free agent). So pairing Cousins with a young big man could be desirable; Dalembert is pushing 30, and could get pricey.
You have to think Sacramento will take a long look at Kyrie Irving if by the graces of all that is holy they win the No. 1 pick. Picking Irving could push Marcus Thornton to the bench or Evans to small forward, but the Duke guard is good enough that you pick first and figure it out later. Derrick Williams would be a strong option at No. 1 or 2, as he could push for immediate minutes at either small forward or power forward. Enes Kanter is an intriguing option, though given Cousins' proclivity to score more of a roleplaying big man like Jonas Valanciunas could be the pick at No. 3.
The Kings have captured the No. 1 pick once in their storied lotto history: 1989. Unfortunately, the top prospect that season was Pervis Ellison. The Kings had the No. 1 chance in the 2009 Blake Griffin Sweepstakes, but were leapfrogged by three teams, and ended up with No. 4 (Evans). The Kings had the No. 3 chance last year, but ended up with No. 5 (Cousins). Will Lady Luck answer the phone this time?
Can the Washington Wizards actually win the NBA Draft Lottery again? They actually have a better chance to win this year than they did last year, when they leaped up from the fifth-worst record in the league to take home the John Wall derby. This time around, the Wizards finished with the fourth-worst record in the league at 23-59, giving them an 11.9 percent chance to win. They can fall no lower than seventh, though fifth is their most likely destination.
The Wizards could use help everywhere but point guard. Up front, JaVale McGee is promising and Andray Blatche has a long-term contract, but there's no way the Wizards will turn down the chance to add a stud big man that can rebound and score effectively in the paint. The Wizards also could use help on the wings, with shooting guard Nick Young a restricted free agent and the small forward spot up in the air.
Like many teams, the Wizards cannot afford to be picky about what positions they need. They have their franchise player in John Wall, but he needs a running mate, no matter the position.
The Wizards would probably take Arizona forward Derrick Williams, who could play both small forward and power forward and provide Wall with a pick and roll partner for years to come. That said, it will be very hard to turn down Enes Kanter, the Kentucky big man that was ruled ineligible last season. Kanter is the kind of rebounder and sturdy post presence that the Wizards have lacked for years, and you know Wall would love to have him because of the Kentucky connection.
Those two fit in very clearly. Beyond them, it's a mixed back. Kyrie Irving is essentially out because the Wizards already have Wall. Jan Vesely is a promising small forward prospect, but he had a bad year and isn't really known for his defense. Jonas Valanciunas is an interesting backup option if Kanter is picked, but who knows how his game will translate?
The Wizards' lottery win last year came after years and years of horrible luck in the lottery. Prior to 2010, the Wizards had been in the lottery 13 times, and had either stayed in their projected spot or moved down in 12 of those instances. The only time they had moved up was in 2001, when they picked Kwame Brown. Maybe last year ushered a change in the Wizards' lottery luck.
The Toronto Raptors find themselves near the top of the board ahead of the 2011 NBA Draft Lottery after losing Chris Bosh to free agency a year ago. The Raptors finished with the third worst record in the NBA this season at 22-60; that means that Toronto has a 15.6 percent chance to win the No. 1 pick in Tuesday's lottery. The Raptors can fall no further than No. 6; there's roughly an equal probability that the Raptors will land in the top three as the 4-5-6 range.
The Raptors have needs all over the board. They have a solid young two-guard in DeMar DeRozan, and used their lottery pick in 2010 on a power forward, promising Ed Davis. Andrea Bargnani, a center in name only, is the team's highest-paid player, and the front office seems to love him. (Beats me, too.)
The biggest need is at point guard; if Toronto can be convinced to either make Bargnani a power forward or replace him, center is a hole, too. The small forward spot has palatable players on the roster (Linas Kleiza, Sonny Weems), but the Raptors could definitely use a star-level prospect there.
It's got to be Kyrie Irving if the Raptors come away with the No. 1 pick. Jose Calderon has proven to be only passable, and Jerryd Bayless wasn't able to yank away the job in an otherwise lost season for Toronto. Derrick Williams could fill a need at forward -- either at the three or as an immediate starter next to Bargnani, but rebounding would be a major concern going forward. (Williams projects as a fair rebounder, but so long as Bargnani is a center, the Raps need a Reggie Evans next to him. Even that hasn't worked.)
If something changes and Toronto looks to go big despite Bargnani's presence, Jonas Valanciunas would be a nice draw. He certainly fits the European style Bryan Colangelo seeks by, uh, being European. Donatas Motiejunas might actually be more Toronto's speed, but Raptors fans might revolt if the team picks up another tall shooter.
The Raptors have five top-five picks in their short history, the last of which was Bargnani, the No. 1 pick in 2006. Toronto had the fifth-worst record in the NBA before winning that lottery. In 2003, the Raptors had the third-worst record in the league, as they do this time around. Toronto ended up with the No. 4 pick in the LeBron James draft; the Raptors landed Bosh, a nice pull. (No. 4 in the 2011 draft will not be so rewarding.)
For more on Toronto's draft and offseason, visit Raptors HQ.
The Cleveland Cavaliers have two chances to win the 2011 NBA Draft Lottery. They have the second-best chance to win on account of having the second-worst record in the league last season at 19-63, but they also own the Los Angeles Clippers' pick due to a February trade. The Clippers finished with the eighth-worst record, giving the Cavaliers two sure high picks. The Cavaliers have a 19.9 percent chance to win the lottery with their own pick and a 2.8 percent chance to win with the Clippers' pick. The lowest their own pick can be is No. 5, and the lowest the Clippers' pick can be is No. 11, should the unlikely happen and three teams below them leap into the top three.
The better question is: what isn't a team need? After losing LeBron James in free agency, Cleveland is severely lacking in talent at every position. There are a lot of decent parts, particularly up front with the underrated Anderson Varejao, veteran Antawn Jamison and young J.J. Hickson. The Cavaliers also aren't in horrible shape at point guard, with Ramon Sessions being decent and Baron Davis being around with a mammoth contract.
I suppose that you'd point to the wings as the one area where help is desperately needed. Anthony Parker is a free agent and saw his skills erode last season, while Christian Eyenga is interesting, but very raw. But more than anything, the Cavaliers need a franchise player that can lead them into a new era, regardless of position.
The Cavaliers will have an interesting decision between Duke's Kyrie Irving and Arizona's Derrick Williams. As noted above, the Cavaliers aren't in awful shape at either point guard or power forward, so it'll come down to which player they think is better. My guess is that they'll take Irving because of the NBA's emphasis on good point guard play.
The Cavaliers haven't been in the lottery since 2005, which was after James' second year in the league. They were just outside of the playoffs in 2004 and 2005, and didn't get lucky to move up. Of course, in 2003, the Cavaliers won the lottery for the right to select James after finishing tied for the worst record in the league. Other than that, the Cavaliers have not moved up to the top three since the lottery changed its format in 1994.
The Minnesota Timberwolves have the best chance of winning the No. 1 pick in the 2011 NBA Draft Lottery on account of being the worst team in the NBA last season. The Wolves have a 25 percent chance at the top pick, and are also favored for the No. 2 or No. 3 slots should No. 1 slip through their grasp.
Besides a do-over on the past <checks calendar> five years? Point guard is the most pressing need; Luke Ridnour is an average point guard at best, and he's aging, which isn't helping his injury avoidance. Sebastian Telfair is ... well, Sebastian Telfair. Jonny Flynn has been a disappointment and while he could still make a career of it, he's too overmatched to give the Wolves a consistent chance to win.
Ricky Rubio is the looming spectre at that position; but Minnesota should know before the draft whether the Spaniard is coming over. (It's doubtful.)
Center is also a gaping void, with Darko Milicic the 2010-11 starter. (Enough said.) The Wolves have one of the league's best young power forwards in Kevin Love, and three wings who are somewhere between intriguing and good (Michael Beasley, Martell Webster, 2010 pick Wesley Johnson).
The Wolves almost have to pick up Kyrie Irving if they win the No. 1 pick; the position is too important to rely on another bet on Flynn or Rubio. I suspect they'd be tickled with a chance to pick up Derrick Williams, Enes Kanter or Jonas Valanciunas at No. 2 or No. 3, though if Kemba Walker rises his ready-to-play perception could make him an option in those spots.
The Wolves have had terrible lottery luck in recent years. The Wolves had the league's second-worst record last year, but fell to No. 4 as the Wizards and 76ers leapt them. Minnesota tied the Grizzlies for the fifth-worst record in 2009; Memphis leapt up to No. 2 while the Wolves picked No. 6. Minnesota's only top-three pick ever was Christian Laettner in 1992.
The 2011 NBA Draft Lottery will be held on Tuesday, May 17. The top three picks in the June draft will be up for grabs, with 12 teams representing the top 14 picks in the derby crossing their fingers and praying for rain.
We'll preview each team's chances and biggest needs on Monday and Tuesday. Stay tuned.
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