Winners and losers from the 2019 NBA Draft Lottery
Adrian Dy on May 15, 2019 06:35 PM
NBA Deputy Commissioner Mark Tatum announces that the New Orleans Pelicans had won the first pick during the NBA basketball draft lottery Tuesday, May 14, 2019, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Nuccio DiNuzzo)
With the 2019 NBA Draft Lottery in the books, it's time to see who benefited the most from what went down, and who got blindsided as events unfolded and woke up in a daze. Here are our winners and losers:
The big winner: The New Orleans Pelicans
Entering the lottery, the Pelicans lay somewhere in the middle of the pack with a 33-49 record, good for a 6% chance of jumping up to claim the #1 overall pick.
We all know how that turned out.
Conspiracy nuts will have to sit this one out - market-wise, Zion Williamson (and c'mon, there's no way they're NOT getting Zion Williamson) could have gone to LA or New York, but is instead headed to The Big Easy, which isn't exactly a hoops town. That said, karmically, it makes a lot of sense. The Pelicans were stunned by Anthony Davis' trade request, and had to resist the Lakers' "all-in" offer for the Brow in the hopes of getting a better deal in the offseason. They couldn't even properly shut Davis down the remainder of the way, having been "forced" to play him around 20 minutes a night and pray to the voodoo gods that he didn't get injured.
And so here they are, rewarded with the #1 pick.
Had this gone to the Lakers or the Knicks, this selection likely would have headlined any trade deal. Instead, the Pelicans already have #1, and can now demand even more assets from desperate teams. Heck, despite reports saying Davis' stance towards a trade hasn't changed, the Pelicans can afford to draw this one out, because they have all the leverage. And who knows, maybe Davis might change his tune if Williamson truly is a legit phenom. After all, crazier things, like the Pelicans vaulting up to #1, have happened before.
Also a big winner: NBA fans
This was the first year where the lottery featured the revamped odds for getting a top pick, a move designed to discourage tanking. While it's still unclear if, after what happened today, teams will have a different approach, it made for plenty of drama, as squads jumped all over the place in the draft order.
You couldn't have asked for a better spectacle than the LA Lakers having the fourth-worst odds at #1 to suddenly becoming a top-4 team. And to do so with the Knicks, and together with the Pelicans? That made for one tense, tantalizing commercial break before the final draft order was revealed.
Somewhat winner: The LA Lakers
While Tinseltown didn't get their Hollywood movie ending of a Zion Williamson-LeBron James pairing, Lakers fans should find some comfort in the fact that they were able to jump all the way up to #4. While it's true that this draft isn't that deep, it's still a better asset to dangle in the hopes of getting more established stars to pair with King James. Or who knows, maybe Rob Pelinka and company fall in love with someone that they think can contribute right away.
Winner: Memphis Grizzlies
Another team that surged up the ladder, the Grizz find themselves at #2, and with Williamson likely going #1, they'll have the ability to pick the best point guard prospect in the draft in Ja Morant. Why would they lock in on the Murray State product? It would really help their seemingly inevitable rebuild, by giving them a star of the future, who can learn for half a season under veteran Mike Conley, before Memphis gets assets for Conley at the trade deadline.
Winner: Atlanta Hawks
The Hawks will have a pair of top-10 picks to add to their core of Trae Young and John Collins, after the Dallas Mavericks' selection failed to rise to the top 5, meaning they had to convey it to Atlanta as part of last year's Young-Luka Doncic deal.
A hot second half of the season for Young made the 2018 Draft day deal look more fair, after Doncic started like a house on fire. If the Hawks nail this pick (#10 to be exact), then they might swing consensus their way even more.
Losers: New York Knicks, Cleveland Cavaliers, Phoenix Suns
This trio of teams finished with the worst records, and all received a 14% chance of getting the first overall pick. Instead...
*sad trombone music*
The Knicks fell to #3, the Cavaliers dropped to #5, and the Suns plunged to #6. As a result, we could see these teams in a similar situation here next year.
A dose of insult to injury for the Cavaliers: they lost LeBron James to the Lakers, and somehow, the Lakers wound up with a better draft pick than them.
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