When the Cleveland Cavaliers won the No. 1 overall pick before drafting Kyrie Irving in 2011, Nick Gilbert, son of owner Dan Gilbert, was on the hot seat as the lottery draw was announced.
On Tuesday, the Nick Gilbert struck again. Announced in an ESPN special prior to Tuesday night's matchup between the San Antonio Spurs and Memphis Grizzlies, the Cavs landed their second No. 1 overall pick in three years. Cleveland came into the lottery with the third-best chance at coming away with the top pick at 15.6 percent.
The Cavaliers' official Twitter feed sent out a Vine video of fans celebrating at a local bar when the pick was announced:
Here is a look at how the entire lottery played out:
|6||New Orleans Pelicans|
|10||Portland Trail Blazers|
|12||Oklahoma City Thunder (via Toronto Raptors)|
As it quickly becomes clear, the Washington Wizards were a big-time secondary winner in this year's lottery. They came into the drawing having the eighth-most ping-pong balls and just below a five-percent chance of landing at the No. 3 pick.
That ascent came at the expense of the Charlotte Bobcats, who went from having the second-best odds of winning to get the fourth selection. The remainder of the selections mostly fell into place, with teams falling back one spot due to the Wizards moving up in the selection process.
Nevertheless, Tuesday's result was all about the Cavs having lottery luck once again. This is the third time in the past decade that the Cavs have won the NBA's lottery, and this is the 10th anniversary of the club winning the LeBron James sweepstakes.
While it's unclear whether James has interest in coming back to the Cavaliers, draft lottery luck has certainly been on the franchise's side since he took his talents to South Beach. Cleveland landed one of the game's most electrifying young guards in Kyrie Irving in 2011 and seems also to have landed some building block pieces in Tristan Thompson and Dion Waiters.
Who's next in Cleveland? Let's answer that and a bunch of other lingering questions about the 2013 NBA draft lottery.
Top Lottery Storylines
Will Nerlens Noel Go No. 1?
The 2013 NBA draft in some ways compares to the 2000 draft, especially since an injured big man was the best player in both drafts.
In 2000, it was Cincinnati's Kenyon Martin who was the draft's top prize. The bruising power forward, who has gone on to a very solid NBA career, had broken his right leg in that season's Conference USA tournament. The incident sent the national title contending Bearcats into a spiral and sent Martin, considered the 2000 draft's best player, wading into uncertain waters.
Vexed with the decision between Stomile Swift and Darius Miles, the then-New Jersey Nets smartly took the risk on Martin at No. 1. While he went on to play in only 68 games as a rookie, Martin went on to an excellent career in New Jersey.
Cleveland now faces a similar conundrum with Noel. Finding a consensus in a draft so sparse of future All-Star talent has been difficult, but there are few scouts who don't believe Noel has the highest potential of anyone in this draft.
The top-ranked high school player in the country a year ago, Noel was well on his way to becoming the 2013 draft's top pick in his only season at Kentucky. An uber-athletic center who measured at just a shade under 7'0" at the draft combine, Noel averaged 10.5 points, 9.5 rebounds and 4.4 blocks per game before going down with an ACL tear versus Florida on Feb. 12.
Like Martin, Noel's injury sent his team into a tailspin and left many questioning the his merits as the No. 1 pick. Noel has targeted Christmas for a tentative return date and told reporters at last week's draft combine that he's "ahead of schedule" in recovery.
However, after weighing in at just 206 pounds at the combine—the equivalent to a bantamweight for a center—many are wondering whether the risk is worth the reward. Noel has the potential to be a dominant shot-blocking force and showed in his short stay at Kentucky an increasingly effective game underneath the basket.
With names like Ben McLemore, Trey Burke and Victor Oladipo lingering and looking like safer options, expect the Cavs to have some long pow wows in the coming days and weeks.
Which Top Guard Will Emerge Before June's Draft?
Noel discussions aside, the other most intriguing story heading out of the combine was how little consensus there was about the draft's top guards. The trio of McLemore, Burke and Oladipo are all considered potential top No. 1 overall selections, though each brings a little something different to the table.
Burke, as the draft's top point guard, is a bit of an outlier in this discussion. He'll get plenty of discussion from the Orlando Magic at No. 2 and would have been a strong consideration had they won the lottery.
The New Orleans Pelicans could also think about taking a point guard, as Greivis Vasquez will be in line for a hefty extension in the next 12 months. New Orleans could decide it wants a more traditional guard running the point and then look to shop Vasquez next summer before he hits free agency in 2015.
The real battle is between Oladipo and McLemore, who are both trying to emerge as the draft's top 2-guard. Shooting guards have become an endangered species throughout the league and both have the skills to be potential All-Stars.
McLemore is every bit a traditional 2-guard. He's an athletic marvel—his 42-inch vertical was among the best at the combine—who has such a beautiful shot that he's been compared to Ray Allen on multiple occasions. Comparing a player to Jesus Shuttlesworth himself is a bit over the top, but McLemore was the best player on a Kansas team that was a Burke 30-footer away from possibly making the Final Four.
For now, though, Oladipo is the one with the momentum. As pointed out by ESPN's Chad Ford, Oladipo's draft stock is going through the roof after the combine. Already an elite athlete with brilliant on-ball defensive skills and top-shelf lateral quickness, Oladipo is an All-Defensive selection waiting to happen. There are questions about his ability to make jumpers—he took them very sparingly at Indiana—but scouts have openly drooled about his two-way potential.
It will be interesting to see whether McLemore more-polished game or Oladipo's potential wins out on draft night.
Will an International Player Go Top-14?
We're (thankfully) long past the days where Yi Jianlian can work out against a piece of lawn furniture and become a lottery pick. As most draft pundits remember, Euromania engulfed the NBA draft process during the early-to-mid-2000s, with names like Fran Vázquez, Yaroslav Korolev and (most infamously) Darko Milicic becoming dud lottery picks.
It took a bit longer than it should have, but general managers finally wised up. While teams still have robust scouting departments all over the world, they have become much better at picking and choosing their spots with these players.
All of that is to say we might be seeing the most international-heavy first round in some time. The league is abuzz about internationals like Dario Saric, Dennis Schroeder, Rudy Gobert and Giannis Antetokounmpo getting first-round consideration. And that's all without mentioning a player like Steven Adams, who played one year of American ball at Pittsburgh after coming over from New Zealand.
Among those without experience in the States, Saric and Schroeder seem to be the hottest names at the moment. ESPN's Chad Ford has Saric as the No. 11 player on his big board and Schroeder at No. 20 following the combine. While Gobert was the only one of those players actually participating in drills at the combine, his athletic performance was a disappointment in Chicago.
Saric is the name most point to as a lottery lock. Though he's a defensive question mark and struggles mightily at the line, Saric's feel for the game is unmatched for someone his age. He's a 6'10" point-forward with excellent open-court vision and enormous potential.
Look for him to start getting consideration starting at midway through the lottery and to not fall past the Dallas Mavericks at No. 13.
Projected Lottery Draft Results
|1||Cleveland Cavaliers||Nerlens Noel (C, Kentucky)|
|2||Orlando Magic||Ben McLemore (G, Kansas)|
|3||Washington Wizards||Otto Porter (F, Georgetown)|
|4||Charlotte Bobcats||Alex Len (C, Maryland)|
|5||Phoenix Suns||Victor Oladipo (G, Indiana)|
|6||New Orleans Pelicans||Trey Burke (G, Michigan)|
|7||Sacramento Kings||Anthony Bennett (F, UNLV)|
|8||Detroit Pistons||Shabazz Muhammad (G, UCLA)|
|9||Minnesota Timberwolves||Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (G, Georgia)|
|10||Portland Trail Blazers||Cody Zeller (F-C, Indiana)|
|11||Philadelphia 76ers||C.J. McCollum (G, Lehigh)|
|12||Oklahoma City Thunder (via Toronto Raptors)||Steven Adams (C, Pittsburgh)|
|13||Dallas Mavericks||Dario Saric (F, Croatia)|
|14||Utah Jazz ||Michael Carter-Williams (G, Syracuse)|
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