NBA: Predicting Every Team That Will Receive a Lottery Pick in the 2013 Draft
While some teams can't put up the wins to play postseason basketball, they do not necessarily walk away empty-handed. Seeing as these teams need help, the draft lottery could be just the ticket, or ball, to change a franchise forever.
Some of the teams mentioned seem to be fixtures in the lottery. They haven't improved via draft and likely won't see playoff action anytime soon. However, we will also see some new additions to the drawing after the upcoming season is through.
Either way, having a lottery pick isn't the end of the world. You aren't guaranteed the top pick just because you have the worst record, but you could find the gem of the draft at any position. The lottery shouldn't be considered a bad thing because of the endless possibilities it opens for a hopeful team.
Besides, you have to start somewhere, right?
Let's check these likely teams out.
No Dwight Howard. No playoffs. Yet, it should feel like a weight lifted from the shoulders of the Magic organization to finally be able to focus on the future.
As it stands, this is a team with a few terrible contracts. Hedo Turkoglu continues to underachieve, while other players who will not be difference-makers like Al Harrington and Glen Davis do not earn the contracts they pull in.
Overall, this team is a mess. They have no sure-fire building pieces and would benefit from trying to ditch some of these pricey contracts. Getting virtually no help in the Howard trade showed desperation from Orlando, but having new management is definitely a step forward.
Don't look for the Magic to be playoff contenders this year. Instead, lottery favorites seem more likely.
The Raptors have looked lost since Chris Bosh took his talents to South Beach. They have too many players that do not mesh well together and lack that dangerous consistent first option.
This is a roster filled with specialty role players, but another example of a team with no true centerpiece. The addition of Kyle Lowry gives them a solid point guard for the next few seasons, but seems pointless if they do not trade Jose Calderon.
In fact, trading valuable players like Calderon and even Andrea Bargnani would only open up more room for future growth.
As for now, Toronto should focus on developing DeMar DeRozan and newcomer Jonas Valaciunas and continue shuffling things up through transactions.
Portland Trail Blazers
The Portland Trail Blazers were a team with high expectations going into last season. They had one of the NBA's better big men LaMarcus Aldridge and surrounded him with plenty of talent that were supposed to be big.
That didn't happen.
In reality guys like Jamal Crawford and Raymond Felton did not play to their talent levels and became disappointments for the team. Now with both of them gone, Portland must focus on the solid young core they have.
Nicolas Batum was somewhat of an interesting story over the offseason, but it was ultimately the Trail Blazers that ended up with the forward. Along with him, Wesley Matthews is another young player who can spread the floor and become a notable role player in the future.
Portland fans should also be excited about drafting Damian Lillard. He showed out in the 2012 NBA Summer League by averaging a league-leading 26.2 points, with 5.3 assists as well. He has the ability to be one of the better point guards around in the near future, and has a nice supporting cast to back him up.
We will see Portland competing for a playoff spot until the very end, but the West is stacked with teams that outclass them.
Linsanity will not be enough to give the Rockets liftoff this season. This will be a team with a ton of unfamiliar faces who need time to progress.
Jeremy Lamb has the making of a future NBA All-Star with his knack for scoring the ball. Houston's long-term success could rely heavily on the former Husky, but he isn't going to boost them into immediate contention.
Rookies Terrance Jones and Royce White are currently question marks. While both are talented players, they will have to adjust heavily in order to bring their talents to the NBA level.
After three straight years of barely missing out on playoff basketball, Houston had to do something. Even if they were able to sneak into the postseason, they were not getting out of the first round.
Don't look for the Rockets to wallop teams this year with such an unsure rotation. Lin could prove to be a smart investment, but will not provide Linstant success for the rebuilding team.
And yes, I'm done with the "Lin" wordplay.
Um, do I even need to explain this one? If so, let's just say the Bobcats are bad.
Kemba Walker and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist are great character guys to build around, but not enough to make Charlotte anything more than a team you pay attention to just to see how much they lose by.
Bobcat management did nothing else to better this team significantly in the offseason, but may be able to pick up some nice players in a pretty solid free agent class next year based off cap room.
New Orleans Hornets
The New Orleans Hornets are going to be extremely good within the next few seasons. Just watch.
Anthony Davis was a franchise-altering prize for the Hornets in this year's lottery draft. He's a lengthy big man who changes a game at an unseen level defensively.
While we will see him pick up plenty of blocks next season, his offense isn't too shabby either. He is developing a game with his back to the basket, but is already a trustworthy face-up shooter and a great finisher at the rim.
Davis has the potential to be an elite player in the NBA, but time will tell just what impact he has on the Hornets franchise.
Keeping Eric Gordon should prove to be a high-reward signing if he manages to stay healthy. He is a bulk scorer with quickness who should be a key component to keeping this team afloat in the future.
New Orleans other first round pick, Austin Rivers, is a bit more complicated. He was originally pegged high on draft boards, but continued to fall as his freshman year with Duke progressed.
Rivers has a tough mentality and the athletic ability to become a fixture in the league. He could end up being the difference-maker in just how good this team could be, and I'd put my money on the positive side.
As for now, it's likely back to the lottery and another shot at a number one pick.
This is a fairly young squad with only two players over the age of thirty. Unfortunately, those two combined are set to make over $17 million for salary space that could be used elsewhere.
Besides the Corey Maggette and Tayshaun Prince contracts, Detroit is filled with young and promising players.
Greg Monroe and rookie Andre Drummond will form a powerful inside combination in a league that lacks talented bigs. It will be interesting to see just how these two can work together, but, overall, both should become forces within the game.
One of the other bright spots for the Pistons is the solid rookie season of Brandon Knight. Averaging 13.4 points a night, the 20-year-old point guard will continue to develop his overall talent and possibly be the face of the future Pistons.
This isn't a team that should immediately be counted out, especially in a shuffling Eastern Conference. But they likely don't have enough right now to get them over the hump.
Golden State Warriors
I keep flirting with the thought of the Golden State Warriors in the playoffs, but they have a lot of questions.
Will Stephen Curry stay healthy next season and become the scoring machine we know he can be? Which end of the boom or bust spectrum will Harrison Barnes end up on? Will Andrew Bogut finally fill the glaring need for a reliable center?
You see the point.
If all goes right Golden State can be in, but it would take a lot to do so.
The Utah Jazz may be the most unbalanced playoff contender in the NBA. They have three guys who can play the center position and be effective, but no other real standout players.
This is a team that should consider trading a player like Al Jefferson or Paul Millsap in order to gain some depth and bring attention to needed areas. They still lack a consistent shooting option and either big man could draw interest for a trade scenario.
Utah did manage to bring in Marvin and Mo Williams, but neither player make the Jazz better than what they were last year. For them to remain contenders, they must develop Derrick Favors and create a balanced attack elsewhere.
Plenty of teams in the Western Conference are showing signs of improvement and will look to knock Utah out of the playoff picture.
Life without Steve Nash begins now for the Phoenix Suns. As it looks, it doesn't have a promising start to it.
Bringing in Michael Beasley in no way makes them a legitimate contender, but does give Phoenix a player who could average 20 points a night if focused. While that is unlikely to happen, the Suns do not have any other players capable of putting up those type of numbers.
Marcin Gortat will continue to be one of the most unappreciated players in the league even though he averaged a double-double last season. His production is liable to fall off without Nash dishing him the ball, but will play with an improving point guard in Goran Dragic.
Other than that, Phoenix has a group of role players who won't contribute much to make this a successful team. While Kendall Marshall could become a solid NBA point guard, he will be stuck behind Dragic on the depth chart to start the year.
We will see the Suns fade out of the spotlight and into the lottery after a good run as contenders.
It's not that the Atlanta Hawks have become one of the league's worst because of the Joe Johnson trade, but they just weren't that good anyway. If not, why would they even consider the trade if it didn't make them better?
Having a healthy Al Horford back in the lineup will provide Atlanta with a major boost. He's a former NBA All-Star with a great mid-range game who can rebound the ball. While Horford could lead the Hawks into the playoffs, this is a team we could see active in the trade market as the season advances.
Josh Smith is a name that could come up as potential trade bait for a team looking to strengthen their title hopes. He's a versatile stat sheet filler who has elite athleticism for his size.
Atlanta has remained a middle-of-the-pack playoff contender for the past few years. Without Johnson, that's going to change.
It's when a team shows no significant progress to get over that spot that it's time to make a major move. Atlanta did nothing wrong by deciding to move in a different direction, but could fight one more year to earn a playoff berth.
Cleveland would not have been on this list if they landed Andrew Bynum, but that's now in the past. This is the best the Cavaliers have looked since the LeBron James era, and they could be in playoff contention come April.
We only got to see a small sample of what Kyrie Irving could do in his injury-filled freshman season with Duke, but he proved his worth as the top pick in the draft. He put up 18.4 points and 5.4 assists a night while coasting to win the Rookie of the Year award.
While Cleveland made a risky first round selection by choosing Dion Waiters, he will provide them with another young talent to build around. He can knock down shots from long range and has the potential to be a dangerous nightly scorer.
A big problem with Cleveland is their lack of an inside presence. Tristan Thompson didn't dazzle in his rookie campaign, but will have to show signs of improvement in order for this team to move forward. They also have rookie Tyler Zeller, but we will have to wait to see what he brings to the table of course.
This will likely remain a low-scoring team without enough fire power to be a serious threat in the East.
On paper, the Sacramento Kings have plenty of talent. However, on the court they just don't fit well together.
DeMarcus Cousins made great strides to becoming a dominant player in his second season in the league. He's strong and agile for his size, but continues to have a horrible shot selection. Working with his back to the basket is something Cousins needs to heavily focus on.
The emergence of Isaiah Thomas at the point guard position helps spread out the depth chart. Allowing Tyreke Evans to be in the shooting guard role will help him concentrate on scoring and create a better offensive flow.
The Kings did pick up Thomas Robinson in the draft which makes them stronger inside. He's a bruising rebounder who will have to adjust to playing with someone like Cousins.
Sacramento has the pieces to develop into a major player in the future, but better team character and chemistry is a must.
The Washington Wizards could honestly be one of the most exciting teams in the NBA to watch this season. They have youth and athleticism, but are still a little too raw to see postseason basketball.
Pairing a shooter like Bradley Beal with the lightening quick John Wall was a perfect move for Washington. Both have styles that compliment each other well, but it will be pivotal to see just how soon they click.
Wall can dish assists, but he must work on his court vision and shot selection to become one of the league's best. Having Nene inside should be a big boost to his career, as he is an efficient and reliable scorer.
Without the cursed contract of Rashard Lewis in play, Washington is one of the teams who will rise into play this year