Also known as the Zion sweepstake, the NBA lottery took place last night and there was plenty to be excited about. This year marked the start of the new lottery odds which gave an equal 14% chance of landing the top pick to the 3 worst records from this season. Those teams were New York, Cleveland and Phoenix. With the future of at least two of these franchises in the balance all eyes were watching to see how last nights ping pong balls would fall.
As mentioned this years odds worked differently to previous iterations of the lottery. In a move to prevent tanking and put and end to any teams adopting their own version of Philadelphia’s ‘Process’ the odds had been flattened amongst the teams involved.
It didn’t take long for the ramifications of these changes to show themselves with both Cleveland and Phoenix falling out of the top 4 picks and once the the envelope containing the 3rd pick revealed the New York Knicks we had all the drama we could need. When it was all said and done the top four ended up being
- New Orleans
- New York
- Los Angeles
For New York, a fan base whose dream summer definitely started with picking Zion at one, it was heartbreak. For New Orleans, a team in the midst of their superstar player forcing his way out of town, it was a different scene.
Everybody knows why this lottery was important. With arguably the most exciting prospect since LeBron available the Pelicans hit the jackpot.
*side note* – David Griffin may be the secret to getting the number 1 pick having won it 3 times whilst in Cleveland and now again in his first year in New Orleans.
Now that the order is set what does this mean for the big players free agency? Well, lets have a look.
New York Knicks
With the Knicks falling to three its not the end of the world but definitely not what they had been hoping for. Having the first pick would have given them Zion to pair with the other free agents rumoured to be heading to the big apple. The third pick is still valuable though. Assuming Memphis takes Ja Morant to be their long term replacement for Mike Conley, RJ Barrett will be available to take. Scouts have definitely softened on him after a up and down year at Duke but some say his game will translate well to the NBA and New York could see a return to RJ the 5 star recruit we saw coming out of high school. Alternatively they could try to convince New Orleans that pairing Zion with RJ at the pro level is worth doing and ask for AD in return. They would have to make the money work but its certainly work a phone call. No need for total doom and gloom though. Get KD and Kyrie in the summer, draft a shooter like Cam Reddish and all may well be fine inside MSG.
New Orleans Pelicans
As I said. This is the perfect situation for New Orleans. Heading into a summer where it looked like the franchises future was falling apart they now have the box office player to rebuild around should AD maintain his desire to leave the team. The Knicks will call and offer up number 3 but the better package may lie over in LA. We know LeBron has no interest in playing with who ever is available at 4 but he absolutely wants to play with Anthony Davis. If the Pelicans see value at the number 4 slot then that packaged with the Lakers young guys would be an attractive offer. Sure New Orleans would rather send AD to the East but you have to take the best deal and Zion, Lonzo, Ingram and maybe Cam Reddish would give the fanbase something exciting to watch for a decade.
Los Angeles Lakers
Simple. Go get AD. LeBron has 3 maybe 4 good years left and he wants to win. With whispers that Kyrie Irving has considered the idea of reuniting with James out in LA a James, Irving and AD big three is their best chance of competing, especially is KD leaves the Warriors and heads east. The lakers were going to go after AD anyway and before last nights events were likely going to have to do it without a top 5 pick. It really couldn’t have gone much better for LA. The only hurdle, who knows whats going on in their front office right now. Not exactly what you want heading into important trade negotiations.
Now all we have to do is wait. Oh and shout out to Adam Silver and his battle to end tanking. It may just have worked.
Final note. If I’m a Pelicans fan I’m just going to go ahead and pretend I never saw this.