With the 2019 NBA Draft Lottery taking place in Chicago on Tuesday night it could mark an incredibly important night for the future of a select NBA franchise.
This is the most important – and fascinating – draft lottery in years. It’s the first time since 2012 there’s a consensus No. 1 overall selection. Back then it was Anthony Davis and now it’s Zion Williamson. There are many subplots involving pick protections that will be decided in this draft. The change in rules – flattening the odds and having four spots lottery selected – has certainly brought more intrigue into the 2019 NBA Draft Lottery than many previous editions.
At SKORNorth.com we ranked which scenarios would be the most fun for the NBA world when the picks are announced on Tuesday night.
1. Atlanta Hawks
This first one is for pure basketball reasoning. The Hawks already have youngsters Trae Young, John Collins, and Kevin Huerter in the lineup. Adding Zion to the mix would make for a group of players that isn’t a legitimate contender right now, but if everything goes as planned, the Hawks become a team vying for titles by 2022.
2. Dallas Mavericks*
Like the Hawks, this was for basketball reasons. The Mavs already have Luka Doncic, and many people think he’s oozing with superstar potential. Adding another player that could potentially be transcendent to the mix along with Doncic and Kristaps Porzingis would instantly make the Mavericks a playoff team and could eventually bring them a title.
*Dallas’ pick it top-5 protected. With the Mavericks currently slotted ninth, the pick will be sent to Atlanta unless it lands in the top four of the draft.
3. Cleveland Cavaliers
Okay, this reasoning is much less about basketball, but it’s too fun not to think about.
Back in 2014 the Cavs won the lottery for the third time in four years. Their odds of doing so weren’t great (1.7% to land the top pick) but they ended up with the pick that eventually became Andrew Wiggins anyways. The results of that lottery prompted an amazing rant from Bill Simmons, then of ESPN, angry that the Cavs had won yet again.
Well, Simmons, now of The Ringer, also jokingly said on his podcast that he would quit covering sports if the Cavs won the lottery again. He certainly won’t be doing that, but there’s no doubt that Twitter would go up in flames if Cleveland won its fourth lottery since landing LeBron James in 2003 despite this being just the seventh time the team hasn’t qualified for the playoffs since then.
4. Philadelphia 76ers
So, the 76ers are quite a longshot to win the draft lottery. The fun part about this is twofold.
First, they’re already a team that’s loaded with talent and was potentially a Kawhi Leonard buzzer-beater away from heading to the Eastern Conference Finals. Second, the only possible way they receive this pick – which is originally Sacramento’s – is by having it land No. 1 overall. If the pick is set anywhere from No. 2 through No. 14, the Boston Celtics get it to complete the Markelle Fultz trade from 2017. Like with Cleveland, Twitter would go up in flames. A sneaky fun part about this is that if Boston’s logo doesn’t appear first in the 14th position, everyone will be on the edge of their seats waiting to see who won the pick and where it lands.
5. New Orleans Pelicans
The Pelicans have been dealing with the Anthony Davis saga since he requested to be traded prior to the trade deadline this past February. Maybe Davis reconsiders his request if he has the opportunity to sign the supermax AND play alongside Zion in New Orleans. It’s far from a sure thing, but it’s also not crazy to think about.
6. Los Angeles Lakers
This represents the flipside of the Anthony Davis saga. What if the Lakers win the top pick and suddenly their trade offer to New Orleans does become too good to pass up? Then we could see a pairing of superstars in Los Angeles with LeBron and Davis while Zion heads to New Orleans.
7. Minnesota Timberwolves*
This would totally and drastically change the trajectory of the franchise for the Wolves. They’ll go from a franchise that seems to be perennially stuck in mud to one that has a legitimate superstar pairing in the frontcourt with Zion and Karl-Anthony Towns. This type of lottery luck would also help to save the Wolves a bit from the salary cap hell that the contract of Andrew Wiggins has helped to put them in.
*So, maybe the Wolves should be a tad bit lower, but I can’t think of anything more fun that getting to watch Zion Williamson up close for 41 home games next year. Yeah, I’m selfish.
8. New York Knicks
The NBA is in a better place when the New York Knicks are good. Whether you love them, hate them, or are indifferent towards them, it’s the truth. New York is the biggest market in the world and Zion would be a true star that the Knicks haven’t had for quite a while.
Maybe if Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving both do choose the Knicks in free agency this summer Zion would get shipped to New Orleans, just like he would if the Lakers win.
9. Phoenix Suns
The Suns have a lot of young talent between Devin Booker and DeAndre Ayton, but that organization has been nothing short of a dumpster fire for nearly a decade now. Basketball wise it could be a really fun fit, but it’s hard to trust the ownership group out there to not find a way to screw it up.
10. Memphis Grizzlies*
Jaren Jackson Jr. is talented young player that saw his rookie season cut short due to injury. He’d be an interesting pairing next to Zion, but there certainly are more fun places for the potential superstar to land than the home of Grit ‘n’ Grind.
*The Grizzlies are currently slotted eighth in the lottery. They keep their pick if they move up into the top four or if they stay at No. 8. If a team from behind them vaults into the top four and they slide down a slot the pick will be sent to the Boston Celtics to complete a prior trade.
11. Chicago Bulls
The Bulls might be kind of fun for Zion. Putting him alongside guys like Zach LaVine and Lauri Markkanen would be sort of fun to see. It’s tough for me to really get all that excited about the Bulls winning, if I’m going to be completely honest. It’s a big market, though, which would certainly help.
12. Washington Wizards
The Wizards are another team that it’s tough to get excited about winning the lottery. Yes, Bradley Beal is a terrific talent, but the questions surrounding John Wall’s health – and the fact that he’s owed roughly a billion dollars over the next few years – make it tough to imagine that franchise going anywhere of significance with Zion.
13. Miami Heat
The Heat currently have what feels like 15 average players signed to above-average player contracts. Rewarding Pat Riley for all of his financial mistakes doesn’t seem great. Zion would bring back some life to Miami’s basketball scene, which – other than a couple magical Dwyane Wade nights – kind of left when LeBron did in 2014.
14. Charlotte Hornets
The Hornets are going to either be in step one of a rebuild if Kemba Walker leaves in free agency, or a middle-of-the-pack Eastern Conference team if they land Zion. While letting Zion develop with little pressure surrounding him might be the best thing for him, it’s definitely not the most fun for the rest of us.