The Milwaukee Bucks have been a perennial lottery fixture over the last 10 to 15 years, but after playing well enough to clinch a playoff berth this season, Bucks fans don’t have to hope ping pong balls fall the right way this year. Well, at least to a certain extent.
If you believe in Giannis Antetokounmpo like I do, you believe he can lead Milwaukee to an NBA finals someday. However, like the Bucks, many other Eastern Conference franchises have some solid young cores that can do the same in the future. Unlike the Bucks, these other East teams are in the lottery this year.
So this year, Bucks fans aren’t rooting for the Bucks, but rather against other teams, which is just as important. The Celtics, 76ers, and the Knicks will all be hoping their respective ping pong balls fall the right way, and Bucks fans should pray that they do not.
Joel Embiid is a monster. Ben Simmons could be similar to Giannis with his playmaking ability and size. Dario Saric can score at the NBA level. Philadelphia’s roster already has scary potential. With Joel Embiid on the floor, the 76ers were stringing together winning streaks already. That’s scary.
The 76ers have the fourth best odds in the lottery. In addition to that, if the Lakers pick falls out of the top-three (the Lakers have the third best odds), Philadelphia gets that pick.
That means Philadelphia could potentially have two top-five picks to pair along with Embiid, Simmons, and Saric. That would make them far and away set up best for the future.
I mean for real, just think about a world where the 76ers trot out Lonzo Ball, Malik Monk, Ben Simmons, Dario Saric, and Joel Embiid. That’s terrifying. It’s improbable but possible, and definitely terrifying.
Bucks fans…..no… all fans that aren’t 76ers fans have to hope the Lakers stay put in the top three.
The Knicks really did New York Knicks things past season. Carmelo seems like he’s on his way out, and they reportedly pissed off Kristaps Porzingis. However, Kristaps Porzingis remains a Knick and he will earn the super-max contract, so he will probably remain a Knick for the foreseeable future.
The Knicks have the seventh best odds which means they will be in range to take a point guard to pair along with Porzingis. There are so many good point guards in this draft in Markelle Fultz, Lonzo Ball, De’Aaron Fox, Dennis Smith, and Frank Ntilikina that one of them is bound to be there.
Porzingis picking-and-popping for someone with De’Aaron Fox’s speed would put a ton of pressure on defenses. Fultz or Ball running the Phil Jackson’s triangle offense would be dangerous, although it’s unclear how long Jackson will be there.
Hopefully the Knicks don’t jump up in the lottery enough to be in the Ball/Fultz/Fox range, and hopefully, none of them fall to the Knicks on draft night.
The Celtics play Game 7 of the Eastern Conference semifinals Monday night, and then get to watch the lottery on Tuesday night where they have the best odds at the number one pick. Unreal.
They have the rights to swap picks with Brooklyn (who had the worse record in the league) this year due to the trade of Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce to the Nets that ended up being one of the most lopsided trades in history.
Boston has an interesting roster. Isaiah Thomas is a scoring machine and only 28 years old (but is an unrestricted free agent after this year), they have other young guards in Avery Bradley and Marcus Smart, a ton of money locked up in Al Horford, and last year’s third overall pick in Jaylen Brown.
With a lot of guards at the top of the board, it will be interesting to see how the Celts play it with a heap of talented young guards already on their roster. Danny Ainge will have to decide whether he thinks Fultz/Ball can play with Isaiah or if they should go in a different direction such as a forward or trading the pick.
The Celtics are one of the few teams that are set up nicely right now and for the future. Brad Stevens’s squad was the number one overall seed this year, and will probably still be a force during Giannis’s prime.
Best case scenario for the Bucks is probably that they trade it for a superstar now, that way they are an aging roster when the Bucks are serious contenders. Other than that, Bucks fans should hope Boston falls out of the top pick.
Bonus: Timberwolves (Western Conference)
The Wolves and the Bucks have recently been pitted against one another for “the team with the best young core” by NBA junkies: KAT, Wiggins, and Lavine vs. Giannis, Jabari, and Khris.
Reading that, you can see the potential of the 2023 NBA Finals being a midwest showdown between Minnesota and Milwaukee.
The Wolves have the sixth-best odds in the draft this year. Just like the Knicks, it’s a situation where when the sixth pick comes up, you have to be begging to see the Timberwolves logo show up. If the Wolves jumped into the top three, just like the 76ers, the league’s future may be a wrap.
Again, the point guards are the cream of the crop in this draft, and despite taking Kris Dunn last year the Wolves could be in business for a point guard. The Wolves will be a trendy pick for breakout team for the 2017-18 campaign, and adding a franchise point guard would only boost them.