Previewing the 2018 NBA Draft Lottery

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Tuesday night marks another rendition of one of my favorite events on the sports calendar, the NBA draft lottery.

It’s the beginning of NBA draft season when “experts” claim that a 30-minute workout tells you more about a player than 10 years of actual basketball.

Before we get to see players at the combine or in team workouts, we finally get to see the order.

Since about October, most of these teams have been jockeying to get the best chance to draft someone who they think can change their franchise.

In the case of teams like the Suns or the Kings, they are really looking for the next athletic forward to play out of position for 20 minutes a night and ensure they won’t be successful any time soon.

When commissioner Adam Silver makes his way to the podium on Tuesday night, the Suns will be the most likely recipient of the No. 1 pick.

Phoenix owns the best chance at 25 percent.

There are also three teams who, despite failing to make the playoffs, will have no chance of winning the lottery.

First, we have the Brooklyn Nets, who can thank Billy King for trading this pick and just about every other one he could during his tenure.

I had to look up how this selection got from the Nets to the Cleveland Cavaliers, just to confirm that King didn’t happen to forget his lunch one day and LeBron James gave him $10 in exchange for the pick.

The Celtics, who acquired this pick in the Kevin Garnett-Paul Pierce trade that keeps on giving, sent this to the Cavs for Kyrie Irving and his jello knees.

Speaking of heists, the 10th best chance at the No. 1 pick belongs to the Philadelphia 76ers thanks to Sam Hinkie’s robbery of the Lakers in the Brandon Knight/Michael Carter-Williams/Eric Bledsoe deal.

This will surprise Silver, when he can’t just hand another top-3 pick to the Lakers.

The third spot that changed hands was this past season when Stan Van Gundy traded the Detroit Pistons pick and his soul to the Los Angeles Clippers for Blake Griffin and the opportunity to overpay Griffin for five more years.

Luckily for Stan, he got fired a few weeks ago and doesn’t have to worry about it anymore.

So here are the teams with the ability to make a pick and their outlook:

Phoenix Suns (21-61, 25 percent chance) – For a team that’s been pretty horrible for years, the Suns have plenty of needs. Namely, they need someone that plays any type of defense. The Suns give up 130 points on a nightly basis and their best defender is Tyson Chandler, who is old and a shell of himself. DeAndre Ayton, who played at Arizona, would be the dream scenario for them. The more likely scenario is they take another stretch-four to go with Marquis Chriss and Dragan Bender and they’ll have three guys that can’t shoot, defend or rebound. I bet they would love Marvin Bagley III.
Memphis Grizzlies (22-60, 19.9 percent) – Memphis has been a very respectful franchise the last decade and haven’t been in this position much. The Griz will look for a playmaker to fold in with Marc Gasol, Mike Conley, Mike Conley’s bad contract and Chandler Parsons in the 12 of 82 games he feels like playing. Luka Doncic is the guy here. Thankfully, there is no Hasheem Thabeet for them to whiff on.
Dallas Mavericks (24-58, 13.8 percent) – Dallas is another team that is normally a playoff contender. They will be looking for someone to surround last year’s lottery pick, Dennis Smith Jr. as well as Harrison Barnes. They could go in any number of directions and just need playmakers. Ideally, they would get someone like Jaren Jackson Jr here.
Atlanta Hawks (24-58, 13.7 percent) – The Hawks recently hired former Sixers assistant and defensive guru Lloyd Pierce as their new coach. Pierce will want a guy that’s athletic and can run with the two big pieces he has in Taurean Prince and John Collins. Jackson would fit perfectly here and I wouldn’t doubt Mo Bamba and his improved jumper rising to this spot.
Orlando Magic (25-57, 5.3 percent) – After the Magic started 6-2, some genius at The Ringer compared them to the Warriors. The Magic went 19-55 the rest of the way and fired Frank Vogel. For a team that can’t score, defend or rebound, their roster isn’t a wasteland like most of these teams. Nic Vucevic and Aaron Gordon are pretty good players and they have a bunch of other guys that were top-10 picks once upon a time. It’s probably a best player available situation for Orlando.
Chicago Bulls (27-55, 5.3 percent) – The Bulls were actually much better than anticipated and have a few nice young players to build around in Kris Dunn, Zach Lavine and last year’s first rounder Lauri Markkanen. The Bulls are a team where if they can get lucky and rise into the top 3, they can be back in the playoffs sooner rather than later, unlike some of these teams. They will take the best player available, probably a forward of some sort.
Sacramento Kings (27-55, 5.3 percent) – Speaking of teams with no hope, this is one. The Kings are still a disaster. I won’t even waste my time here. The Kings will take either another power forward or a project that will either be in the G-League or cut the next two years. This has Bagley written all over it. Vlade Divac better start writing his resignation letter.
Cleveland Cavaliers (51-31) via Brooklyn Nets (28-54, 2.8 percent) – It’s hard to know what LeBron will do with this pick. If he stays, he may package it with Kevin Love for whatever he can get. He may also want whoever signs with Klutch. This seems like the place for a guy like Collin Sexton.
New York Knicks (29-53, 1.7 percent) – Speaking of no hope, here are the Knicks. Kristaps Porzingis is going to miss most of next season, Frank Ntilikina lost minutes to the likes of Jarrett Jack, Courtney Lee and Trey Burke of all people, and they have a new coach. The positive for the Knicks is that they actually have their pick. Since Silver can’t gift the Lakers another pick, this would be the perfect chance to get the Knicks into the top 3. I’ll say best player available, but I know full well they won’t actually take the best player available.
Philadelphia 76ers (52-30) via Los Angeles Lakers (35-47, 1.1 percent) – The Lakers were slightly more respectable than usual this year, so this pick will likely fall at 10. If it jumps to No. 1, Bryan Colangelo will look slightly less dumb than he is. If it falls 2 or 3, the Celtics get it. More likely, it’s No. 10. The names are two local products in Mikal Bridges (Villanova, Great Valley High School) and Lonnie Walker (Reading High School) as well as Kevin Knox.
Charlotte Hornets (36-46, 0.8 percent) – I don’t know what to even say about the Hornets. They must like NBA purgatory, because they saw no need to trade Kemba Walker at the deadline and better their chances. The Hornets need to find a way to replace one or both of former top-3 picks Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and Marvin Williams with younger guys with energy, athleticism and excitement.
Los Angeles Clippers via Detroit Pistons (39-43)
Los Angeles Clippers (42-40, 1.3 percent combined)-The Clippers actually did a tremendous job of getting off the albatross contracts of Chris Paul and Blake Griffin and getting back assets. Now, these two picks do absolutely nothing for me. I see this as a 4-5 player draft with maybe a few potential starter caliber players after that. They need wings in the worst way.
Denver Nuggets (46-36, 0.5 percent) – I don’t see any way the Nuggets actually use this pick. There is no reason for it. This will be available on draft night, assuming they don’t cash in on the slim odds to jump into the top 3.

The teams that have the most intriguing outlook if they jump are the Bulls, Sixers and Cavs. I think someone jumps. I’m going to guess the top 3 ends up being: 1. Suns 2. Grizzlies 3. Knicks.

Odds courtesy of BetDSI.com

Team to win 2018 NBA Draft Lottery first pick
Phoenix Suns +250
Memphis Grizzlies +325
Dallas Mavericks +500
Atlanta Hawks +500
Orlando Magic +800
Sacramento Kings +1000
Chicago Bulls +1250
Cleveland Cavaliers +1500
New York Knicks +1500
Field (Any Other Team) +1000

Team to win 2018 NBA Draft Lottery first pick
Phoenix Suns +250
Memphis Grizzlies +325
Dallas Mavericks +500
Atlanta Hawks +500
Orlando Magic +800
Sacramento Kings +1000
Chicago Bulls +1250
Cleveland Cavaliers +1500
New York Knicks +1500
Los Angeles Lakers +2500
Field (Any Other Team) +1000