2012 NBA Lottery Results: How the Lottery Impacts Non-Lottery Teams

Joshua J VannucciniSenior Analyst IIIMay 30, 2012

NEW ORLEANS, LA - MARCH 31:  Jared Sullinger #0 of the Ohio State Buckeyes reacts after the Buckeyes lose to the Kansas Jayhawks 64-62 during the National Semifinal game of the 2012 NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Championship at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome on March 31, 2012 in New Orleans, Louisiana.  (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)
Jeff Gross/Getty Images

The NBA draft lottery results are in. In a surprising outcome, the New Orleans Hornets have secured the first overall pick. Many believed the Charlotte Bobcats' dismal record of 7-59 made them the favorites to obtain the primary selection in the draft. However, they dropped to second and have most certainly lost their chance to begin a solid rebuilding process with an excellent prospect in Anthony Davis.

However, another aspect of the lottery is how it will affect the non-lottery teams in the NBA. Here’s how.

Now that the draft order has been settled, one can predict, to an extent, which prospect each team will choose. For example, aside from being the top prospect in the country, the New Orleans Hornets need a competent big man inside, so it is a no-brainer to select Anthony Davis.

This year’s group features some dynamic power forwards and centers, ranging from the powerful Andre Drummond to the low-post specialist Thomas Robinson. This is order for the 2012 NBA draft:

  1. New Orleans
  2. Charlotte
  3. Washington
  4. Cleveland
  5. Sacramento
  6. Portland
  7. Golden State
  8. Toronto
  9. Detroit
  10. New Orleans
  11. Portland
  12. Milwaukee
  13. Phoenix
  14. Houston

Fortunately, as Golden State’s pick was top-seven protected, the team was able to retain it rather than shipping it to Utah. The two teams were engaged in trade talks before the lottery yet failed to come to a conclusion. This would have disrupted the entire lottery order, as Utah is not a lottery team. The Jazz's primary strength is their frontcourt, and they would have selected a guard in the draft.

As aforementioned, the 2012 NBA draft has some intriguing prospects for any team’s frontcourt. The majority of the lottery teams already possess players in that category, and drafting as such is not their first priority. Sacramento, Portland, Golden State, Toronto, Phoenix and Houston have more need for a guard or small forward than anything else, which essentially elevates the demand for one. Fortunately, there is a large group of players of this style.

What this means is that, theoretically, a team would reach for a prospect to fill a need and leave another prospect that may be more talented on the board. This allows the non-lottery teams to profit, as skilled players will slip into the bottom 16 picks.

Forward Jared Sullinger is predicted to be selected 14th overall by the Houston Rockets. They already have Luis Scola as their starting forward and have undeveloped talent on the bench in Patrick Patterson and Marcus Morris. Therefore, unless a lottery team reaches for Sullinger, he may very well slide to a team like the Philadelphia 76ers. They are coming off a phenomenal playoff run, and adding a player of Sullinger’s caliber would no doubt make an enormous improvement to their roster.

The same trend continues throughout the draft. Now that the Hornets have the first overall pick, they will undoubtedly selected Davis. They also possess the 10th pick in the draft and are predicted to take John Henson, a power forward out of North Carolina. This move would be seemingly incoherent for the Hornets, as taking two players of the same position would be unwise.

New Orleans would instead reach for a point guard or small forward, who would be Damian Lillard or Moe Harkless, respectively. Lillard is mocked to go 13th to Phoenix, and Harkless is predicted to go to Minnesota at 18th.

Drafting either alters the future of both Phoenix and Minnesota, for a few obvious reasons.

Steve Nash may leave the Suns through free agency and by doing so leave a gap at point guard. Unless Sebastian Telfair or Aaron Brooks become the starter for Phoenix, there is no purpose in taking a point guard in the draft. The Suns need assistance on the wing and could reach for Terrence Ross, predicted to go at 16th. Houston, predicted to take Ross, would then be left searching for a prospect of its own.

Minnesota is in dire need of a solid shooting guard, and taking yet another forward in the draft would be senseless. Even if Michael Beasley leaves through free agency, the Wolves will still have Kevin Love, Nikola Pekovic, Derrick Williams and Martell Webster. Harkless is an athletic forward—the type of player Minnesota has seen too much of.

Provided he isn't selected earlier, Minnesota would need to pursue Dion Waiters. He is a decent guard who can create his own shot—something the Timberwolves will desperately need with Ricky Rubio on the injured list. However, if Waiters is selected earlier, the only other guard available is Doron Lamb, mocked to be picked by Cleveland at 24th. Again, the team would either have to reach for a prospect if a lottery team snatches the player it needs most.

As you can see, the discrepancy of players’ positions will alter where and when they are drafted. It is a vicious cycle that will affect not only the lottery teams of this year’s draft, but the other 16 awaiting any dynamic prospects that slip through the net.

The 2012 draft is considered to be loaded with future talent, and every team will be very selective in its choices. Either way, each decision not only affects the organization itself, but another team down the road.