2014 NBA draft lottery means everything to some teams
May 20, 2014 § Leave a comment
The Milwaukee Bucks sent out 10,000 ping pong balls to fans last week with a card that read, “Own the future, win the lottery.”
Garnering the coveted No. 1 pick in the loaded 2014 NBA draft is a luxury bottom-feeder teams will be anxiously eyeing in the league’s annual draft lottery Tuesday night in New York. That’s especially the case for a team like Milwaukee, which went 15-67 in 2013-14, or the rebuilding Philadelphia 76ers, who lost 26 in a row last season.
Tanking speculation aside, securing the No. 2 or No. 3 pick still could provide franchise-changing fortune this year. Kansas stars Andrew Wiggins and Joel Embiid and Duke forward Jabari Parker all are candidates to hear their name called first by NBA Commissioner Adam Silver. They’re the headliners helping this year’s draft class draw comparisons to 2003, when LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh and Carmelo Anthony were top five picks.
“There’s not a Tim Duncan or LeBron James available this year, but this is one of the best drafts in terms of talent,” ESPN analyst Jay Bilas said. “I’m not sure there’s a firm handle on who will go No. 1.
“Most of these teams will be drafting based on upside, what a player’s ceiling is. With Wiggins, he’s really athletic but does he have a takeover personality? That’s an industry-wide question mark. Parker is probably the most polished and prepared to play right now. And with Embiid, every time you watch him he’s gotten better and he’s got an aptitude to improve that leaves your jaw on the floor. Do you pass up the potential to go with the sure thing right now? That’s what these teams will have to decide.”
The Bucks were the worst team in the NBA this past season and enter Tuesday’s lottery with the best odds to haul in the top pick at 25%. But the worst team doesn’t always get the No. 1 or even a top-three pick, evidenced by the Charlotte Bobcats in 2012. If Milwaukee or Philadelphia don’t come out on top, a strand of other franchises in rebuilding mode — the Orlando Magic (15.6%), Utah Jazz (10.4%), Boston Celtics (10.3%) and Sacramento Kings (4.3%) — are all positioned to take home the No. 1 ping pong ball.
The surprise of the draft lottery could be Los Angeles Lakers, should the league’s most storied franchise get the top pick. The Lakers have a 6.3% chance of getting the No. 1 pick after missing the playoffs for the first time since 2005.
Following an unprecedented lack of talent in last summer’s draft — the top pick, Anthony Bennett, averaged 4.3 points and 12.8 minutes a game in 2013-14 — this summer’s draft class showcases an influx of talent that will make teams without the best odds satisfied on Tuesday.
“This is really deep draft,” Bilas said. “Last year was just a bad draft. I don’t think anyone wanted that No. 1 pick. This year, the top dozen are all capable of being stars and there’s guys in the second round who could be really valuable pieces.”