The 2012 NBA Draft has just begun to take shape. Now that the order is set, teams will go into full scouting mode and burn up the phone lines with other GMs trying to wheel and deal to improve their team.
Despite their best efforts, the 2013 NBA Draft Lottery will more than likely be comprised of largely the same teams that are in the top (or bottom, depending how you look at it) 14.
Here are the nine teams who are destined to be on vacation by next April and will have another choice in the lottery.
Charlotte's brief lottery history has been an unlucky tale and last night's draft lottery did nothing to improve Charlotte's fortunes.
The Bobcats once again missed out on the first pick in the NBA Draft despite having the worst record and, by proxy, the best chance of getting the pick.
Even if Charlotte would've landed the top pick and nabbed Anthony Davis, they'd still be easily within the confines of the lottery after the conclusion of the 2013 NBA regular season.
Frankly, the Bobcats could draft Anthony Davis, Dale Davis, Terrell Davis, Al Davis, Jefferson Davis and the entire population of Davis, California and still not have a shot at the playoffs next year.
New location, same results.
The Nets have been firmly in win-now mode ever since Russian billionaire Mikhail Prokhorov purchased the team. The Nets gave up a kings ransom for talented but surly point guard Deron Williams and made a head-scratching deal for Gerald Wallace, giving up their 2012 lottery pick with only a top-three protection.
The Nets have now lost that pick and any legitimate shot they had and being markedly improved over last season. Deron Williams is most likely on his way out barring any miracle deal that would bring in Dwight Howard, and the remaining list of free agents for 2012 is average at best.
How do you say "ping pong balls" in Russian?
Despite a tumultuous season that saw plenty of in-fighting, contention and losing, Washington was actually a team that would've been a very interesting fit for Anthony Davis.
Alas, the Davis-Wall combination wasn't meant to be, and the Wizards will likely be debating between selecting Thomas Robinson, Andre Drummond and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist.
All three of the aforementioned prospects are fine players that have great shots at being good NBA players, but none of them are miracle workers.
ANDRAY BLATCHE, FOOL! (That's for you, Ryen Russillo!)
Cleveland's improvement last year with the addition of Kyrie Irving was significant. I think it's fair to say Cleveland overachieved despite still being firmly entrenched in lottery territory.
I could actually see a scenario play out where Drummond or Robinson falls to Cleveland, lives up to his respective hype and puts Cleveland in a position where they could sneak into the last playoff spot in the East.
More likely, Cleveland's lack of young assets will likely prevent them from escaping the lottery that immediately.
Is it safe to say yet that the Jimmer Fredette experiment didn't turn out exactly the way the Maloof Brothers expected?
The Kings showed brief glimpses of promise and aren't lottery bound for the sixth consecutive season for a lack of talent. It just seems the combination of players they have don't really work well together, and thus the Kings will likely be lottery bound again next year.
Shockingly, the Kings have only had one top three pick in the 13 times they've been in the lottery since 1990.
Lady luck smiled upon the Warriors Wednesday night, assuring the Warriors will retain their 2012 first round pick, which would've gone to Utah if it had been lower than seven.
Barring a homerun draft pick, Klay Thompson turning into Reggie Miller in his prime and an unprecedented streak of excellent health, Golden State will find themselves once again praying their pick is low enough to be retained instead of going to the Jazz.
Although the playoffs seem firmly out of reach, the Warriors should see some improvement next season.
The Raptors should be commended.
While stinking up the joint night in and night out was certainly an option for them, the Raptors competed hard throughout the entire season despite having a roster that was less exciting than Ben Stein reading the greater Toronto area phone book.
While the 2012 NBA Draft is considered to be fairly deep, there is a noticeable drop off in talent after the first three or four picks. Toronto's selection at eight could be a nice contributor for the Dinos, but is not likely to vault Toronto into the top eight in the East.
The Suns surprising playoff push came up just short when the scrappy Suns lost their second to last game of the season against the Utah Jazz, which gave the final playoff spot in the west to Utah.
Without the roundball wizard running the show in Phoenix, the Suns won't be able to help but take a big step back during the first year of their rebuilding process.
I was happy to see New Orleans' refusal to tank down the stretch be karmically rewarded by winning the first overall pick in the 2012 NBA Draft. The Hornets had a reasonable amount of talent that seemed to start to gel nicely towards the end of the season.
Adding Anthony Davis to a young and hungry Hornets roster should give them a mighty boost up the Western Conference rankings. The problem is, there is not an obvious team in the West that is set to drop out of the playoff picture entirely.
The Hornets will likely be at the tail end of next year's lottery due more to the depth of talent in the West than any major shortcomings on their part.