As the ping-pong balls flew around in that little container Wednesday night, every NBA lottery team fan was hanging on every bounce, every ping, every moment.
The NBA draft lottery can make or break a franchise, as we’ve seen so many stories of busts and diamonds in the rough that emerge.
The New Orleans Hornets landed the No. 1 selection last night, and nearly everyone expects them to take the 19-year-old defensive sensation, Anthony Davis, who helped the Kentucky Wildcats win the 2012 NCAA Championship.
However, not everyone is thrilled with this year’s class coming out. Teams have been scouting for months on end to find that next diamond in the rough or, more importantly, that next bust at the top of the list to stay away from.
Here are five teams that will move up (and down) to put themselves in a better position when the NBA draft kicks off on June 28…
Hall of Fame player and current majority owner Michael Jordan put all his eggs in the Anthony Davis basket. Unfortunately, the balls didn’t work in his favor Wednesday, as his Charlotte Bobcats landed one pick short of getting the 6’10” center.
The Bobcats are in a complete rebuilding mode at the moment. They are still searching for a coach, and the candidates include former New York Knicks center, Patrick Ewing, as well as former Utah Jazz coach Jerry Sloan.
According to ESPN analyst Chad Ford’s Big Board, fellow Wildcat forward Michael-Kidd Gilchrist is projected to go No. 2 overall. Jordan and the rest of the front office is probably not interested in drafting Kidd-Gilchrist at the No. 2 spot, so expect them to move down a few slots if possible. Ideally, a big man like Connecticut’s Andre Drummond or even Kansas forward Thomas Robinson makes more sense for the Bobcats at this stage of the rebuilding process.
Yes, they need assets, but they also need length and size. The 6’11” Drummond may be too much of a reach at No. 2, so expect the Bobcats to move down a few slots if they can in the coming weeks.
The Cleveland Cavaliers have been hoarding and stashing away lottery picks like candy over the last couple of seasons in hopes of totally revamping the franchise after the departure of superstar (and hometown hero) LeBron James.
The Cavaliers traded point guard Ramon Sessions to the Los Angeles Lakers before the trade deadline in exchange for L.A.’s first-round pick, one of a few moves that worked out in Cleveland’s favor.
With the addition of a low-post player to help compliment rookie sensation Kyrie Irving, there’s no telling where the Cavaliers can go. Also, they have forward Tristan Thompson, who played valuable minutes last season and can be the fourth or fifth best player for them going forward.
Based on where the Cavaliers are right now, the options that could be on the table include players such as Drummond, Robinson, Florida guard Bradley Beal (a great three-point stroke who played odd positions at FU) or North Carolina’s Harrison Barnes.
Barnes and Bradley don’t fit realistically in the Cavalier’s plans, so expect them to try and be aggressive at that spot and try to move up one slot or two. Expect the Cavaliers to select either Drummond (if he’s still there) or Robinson wherever they’re eventually slotted.
With two mid-first-round selections, the Houston Rockets are in a very peculiar position—and that doesn’t have to necessarily imply anything negative.
The Rockets have room to wiggle and move up if they so choose.
According to HoopsWorld.com, the Rockets’ commitment to players can go from $62 million down to just over $40 million if free agents such as Marcus Camby and Goran Dragic decide to test the market.
The Rockets have been long linked to the Lakers' Pau Gasol, and that option could still be on the table. However, they’re window to deal for Gasol is now, as they must decide what overall direction they want to go.
If they decide to trade up and go for a guy they really like, then don’t expect Gasol to be in the mix. The Rockets will unlikely unload both picks by draft time, but it’s more realistic they would trade up for a big man or even a 2-guard, such as UConn’’s Jeremy Lamb or Weber State’s Damian Lillard.
It’ll be interesting to see what direction the Rockets ultimately decide to go in, so expect a lot of buzz coming out of Houston in the coming weeks.
The Portland Trail Blazers basically stole the No. 6 pick in next month’s draft when they dealt veteran Gerald Wallace right before the deadline for a protected lottery pick.
Now the question is, “What do we do with it?”
The Trail Blazers have been savaged by injuries over the years. Now without Greg Oden and Brandon Roy, they need a face to build around. However, unlike the position of most of the teams drafting in the high first round, Portland can go in number of different directions.
They could go with a guard, someone like Lillard or Syracuse’s Dion Waiters. They could risk waiting and try and grab either Drummond or Robinson. They could even look at Barnes or Baylor’s forward Perry Jones.
They are in a really good spot, but why not move down?
By moving down a few spots, they are still within reach of someone worthwhile at No. 11. Then the Blazers can load up on more draft picks or even go and get a veteran.
They have plenty of options. However, their decision on this move will ultimately tell the tale of where the Trail Blazers are heading.
Sometimes the hardest thing for a front office during draft time is deciding if there is a guy out there that you love enough to move up for.
If I’m the Detroit Pistons, I know that I really, really…really want Drummond. He has crazy athleticism, a defensive presence and a ton of room to grow into an NBA game.
With Brandon Knight, Greg Monroe, a bunch of solid role players and potentially Drummond, the Pistons would look like a vastly different team than the one that landed them in the Top 10.
He’s the guy to target, and if they can somehow move themselves in a position to get him, expect the Pistons to bite on whatever trade that makes that happen.