NBA Draft Lottery: Which Team Deserves the No. 1 Pick?

Tommy McConnell@@TommyMcConnellCorrespondent IMay 21, 2013

What team get lucky tonight?
What team get lucky tonight?Scott Halleran/Getty Images

The 2013 NBA Draft Lottery is tonight. Outside of the 14 NBA cities with a rooting interest, I can't imagine it moves the needle all that much for the rest of the population. There is no once-in-a-generation force like or LeBron James, or even a compelling who-ya-got? a la Greg Oden and Kevin Durant.

Most draft experts seem content with Nerlens Noel in the top spot, a defensive force—probably, once that small matter of a torn ACL heals up—but whose offensive game is charitably characterized as "raw." Maybe Trey Burke, an undersized point guard, slips into the top spot. Perhaps NCAA Tournament flame-outs Otto Porter or Ben McLemore go No. 1.

Regardless, there's not the usual amount of drama the NBA is looking for. But for a fan base that's been through an ugly season—and if you're in the lottery, you slogged through some muck—winning the lotto puts a nice little pep in its collective step.

So which franchise deserves that No. 1 spot this year?

14. Oklahoma City (Toronto)
The pick is Toronto's if it's in the top three, but in all likelihood, the Thunder will control it. Two reasons why Oklahoma City is last on this list: Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook. If there was a draft from all players on lottery teams, those are the first two picks. Besides, they've already proven they can't be trusted with three blue-chippers.

13. Dallas
The Mavs are just few short years removed from winning a title. That fanbase has experienced enough joy recently, even if their owner lackadaisically took an ax to their title defense and has led them on a slow descent into mediocrity. Enjoy Dirk's one-legged jumpers and the 13th pick. That's plenty.

12. New Orleans
The Pelicans won the lottery last year. No one should be that lucky in one calendar year.

11. Portland
The Trail Blazers were gifted the reigning Rookie of the Year when Brooklyn inexplicably agreed to one of the most irrational, least thought-out trades in the history of the NBA.

Yes, the whole history.

That type of trade should be named, the way Ted Stepien had his moniker attached to his specific brand of insanity. Anytime a team gives up its youngest, most valuable asset for something it could have gotten two months later for basically free, let's call it a Prokhorov.

10. Utah
I'd have Utah a bit higher, but I'm not sure they'd know what to do with, or even want, more young pieces. That team should have been turned over to Gordon Heyward, Enes Kanter, Alec Burke and Derrick Favors last year; instead they rode Al Jefferson and Mo Williams to the ninth seed.

That's not really their fans' fault, but they're also blessed with a stable of bigs unmatched in the NBA. Noel would almost be overkill.

9. Minnesota
For all the bumbling and mismanagement that marked the David Kahn era, trading Mike Miller and Randy Foye for Ricky Rubio was a savant's move (he literally almost immediately undermined and botched it, but still). The memory of Rubio throwing behind-the-back bounce passes through a defender's legs to Kevin Love should be enough.

8. Cleveland
This falls under the same logic as the Trail Blazers or the Timberwolves: They blindly stumbled into Kyrie Irving when the Clippers unnecessarily passed on protecting their draft pick (pretty sure Cleveland still signs off on the deal if it is top-two protected).

Perhaps blindly stumbled is unfair; it isn't their fault L.A. gave up too much. But still, tough to ask the basketball gods—the old or the new—to smile on your franchise that often in so short a window. (Although those gods did allow the greatest player of the era to just walk away, so maybe Cleveland is entitled to pick first for as long as LeBron is still in the league. Depends how you look at it, I guess).

7. Philadelphia
The Sixers should actually be owed a little luck tonight after the huge bet they placed on Andrew Bynum came up snake eyes.

6. Detroit
There's a good deal of young talent here, right? Why aren't the Pistons better? Steal of the Draft Andre Drummond fell all the way to them at No. 9 last year, so they burned through a good bit of their luck reserves. Still...shouldn't the Pistons be better?

5. Charlotte
If they win the lottery, I'll dig up my old Starter Hornets jacket. If not, they have to move to Seattle.

4. Washington
I dunno, I guess. Whatever.

3. Sacramento
Kings fans should be rewarded for the effort they put forth to keep their team in their city. I've no idea how they rallied back from what seemed like a foregone conclusion. That the Maloofs are gone should be enough to keep them happy for a decade, but a little frosting on the new ownership cake would be much deserved.

2. Orlando
While it looks like the Magic did alright for themselves in the Dwight Howard trade, the whole saga still leaves a bad taste in my mouth. It seems like they are going through the rebuild the right way. Anything that could potentially lead to the Magic having a better record than the Lakers (or whoever Dwight plays for next season) is A-OK with me.

1. Phoenix
I feel awful for the Phoenix fans. Not so long ago, the Suns were the most-fun team to watch in the league. They played an innovative, almost quirky style of hoops with fun guys that made it fun to cheer for. Through some tough breaks and bad bounces, they could never get over the hump, and then things unraveled. Now, I feel perfectly comfortable calling their roster the least talented in the NBA.


Why does your team deserve the No. 1 pick?


Follow me on Twitter at @TommyMcConnell


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