The NBA Draft lottery is one of the most interesting nights in sports. Unlike other major sports that reward the worst teams with the highest draft pick, the NBA uses a weighted lottery system to determine the draft order. In most years this night is fairly uneventful, especially one year ago when the lottery went chalk for the first time in history. This year the drama surrounding the lottery comes not only because of how talented the incoming class is, but the numerous scenarios in which teams could see their picks disappear. Here are the three most intriguing storylines going into the ping-pong ball drawing:
- Will the Lakers hold onto their pick?
Oh how the mighty have fallen. The Lakers for years stood atop the NBA podium proudly staring down on the rest of the league. Eight years removed from winning a title and four years since their last playoff birth, the Lakers have become more of punch-line than anything else. Of course, that could all change if they were able to nab the number one pick and select their franchise altering piece, or use that pick as trade-bait to acquire a superstar talent. Los Angeles holds the third best odds at receiving the top spot, but there is a scenario that is absolutely terrifying for those in Laker land. If LA falls out of the top four, then their pick goes to Philadelphia based on numerous trades that originated back when the Lakers acquired Steve Nash. Losing out on this pick would be absolutely crippling for a franchise desperate to return to relevance, and the odds state that they are more likely than not to lose that pick. New president of basketball operations Magic Johnson and GM Rob Pelinka have made it clear they are trying to attract superstar free agents, but the fact remains that great players do not want to come play for a terrible team even in LA. Without a doubt, the entirety of Laker nation will be holding their breath as the picks are announced.
- Will Boston be able to reap the ultimate reward from the Brooklyn heist?
It has been well documented that the Boston Celtics won the Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett trade with the Brooklyn Nets. Danny Ainge did the equivalent of stuffing then-Brooklyn GM Billy King in a locker and stealing his lunch money. Four years later the Nets are basketball dumpster fire, while the Celtics have the best record in the Eastern Conference and the best odds to get the number one pick in the draft. If Boston gets the number one pick they have two very different, yet equally enticing, options. They could select a college star and have their centerpiece for the future to pair with last year’s top selection Jaylen Brown as well as another Brooklyn pick next year. On the hand they could package that pick and other young players in the hopes of acquiring an established superstar in order to better position themselves to knock of the juggernaut in Northeast Ohio. If every thing breaks wrong for Boston and they fall all the way to pick number four, they would still have these options, but in both scenarios they would get theoretically less value. This week is shaping up to be one of the most exciting or disappointing in recent Celtic history, and what happens Tuesday night could go a long way in determining that.
- Will the Kings incompetence continue to bite them?
The Sacramento Kings are the picture of dysfunction, and this draft lottery exposes that once again. Before the 2015-2016 season they traded away a pick swap in this draft as well as a 2019 unprotected first round pick to Philadelphia in order to clear cap space to sign Rajon Rondo and Marco Belinelli in the hopes that they could compete for a playoff spot with DeMarcus Cousins. Less than two years later none of those three players are on the roster and even if the Kings get the number one pick they would have to give it to the 76ers. Fortunately for the Kings they would only swap picks and own another lottery selection courtesy of their trade with the New Orleans Pelicans that sent Boogie Cousins there. For comedic purposes, it would be great to see the Kings get the number one pick only to give it up to Philadelphia. There would be a graphic that show the pieces in that trade, and the world would get a glimpse inside the circus that Vivek Ranadive and Vlade Divac have put together in northern California.