In the NBA, lottery selections—particularly top-five lottery selections—are as good as gold. Teams that manage to acquire top-five talent in multiple drafts typically find themselves well out of the lottery in a very short period of time.
While there’s no guarantee every top pick pans out, the odds of finding a true franchise-changing talent are much higher with a little help from the draft lottery. And as we’ve seen so many times in the past, it takes a lot of luck to end up with favorable draft positioning.
Just ask the Cleveland Cavaliers.
The Cavs defied the odds again this year in landing the first overall selection in the 2013 NBA draft. There may not be a bona fide elite prospect in this draft class, but general manager Chris Grant will have plenty of options to choose from.
Cleveland wasn’t the only team to win favorable draft position, though. Let’s take a look at the three teams that stand to gain the most from their draft lottery luck.
*Complete order courtesy of Bleacher Report Twitter account:
Bleacher Report @BleacherReport
The @cavs get the 1st overall pick in the 2013 @NBA Draft. Complete draft order. http://t.co/HwSMQAx70Z2013-5-22 00:59:55
No. 3 Washington Wizards
With the seventh-worst record in the NBA (29-53), Washington wasn’t expected to win a top-three selection. But the ping-pong balls don’t typically fall the way we expect, and the Wizards are now in position to benefit greatly from the third overall pick.
With John Wall and Bradley Beal in place, Washington has an opportunity to add the final piece to its perimeter-scorer puzzle. UNLV’s Anthony Bennett may be an option at No. 3, but the Wizards will have a hard time passing on Georgetown’s Otto Porter should he still be available.
The 6’8” small forward is an exceptional athlete with all the basketball skill to match. He doesn’t overachieve in many areas, but there’s very little Porter can’t do on a basketball court.
As well as Porter moves without the ball in his hands, a trio of Wall, Beal and Porter would be absolutely deadly at the offensive end of the floor. With the third pick, Washington will have an opportunity to select him without surrendering picks or players to move up in the first round.
No. 8 Detroit Pistons
Detroit isn’t that far from being a true contender in the Eastern Conference, but it needs to make some smart decisions this offseason.
With Brandon Knight, Greg Monroe and Andre Drummond in place, the Pistons will have a lot of options to fill needs at point guard and small forward—among them, Trey Burke and Shabazz Muhammad.
Should either player be available at No. 8, Detroit won’t have to look very far a long-term solution at one of the two positions. That may not be the case for teams picking at No. 10 and beyond, though.
By securing the eighth selection in the draft, the Pistons should be able to get ahead of the bevy of teams hoping to cash in on this class’ top-tier talent at those positions.
No. 1 Cleveland Cavaliers
For the third time in the last 11 years, the Cavaliers were awarded the top pick in the NBA draft. While there may not be a surefire talent like LeBron James or Kyrie Irving in this class, there are a couple of players with enormous potential.
Cleveland posted the third-worst record in the NBA this season—a spot at which both of those players would likely be off the board. Instead, the Cavs will have their pick of the bunch, and it’s not hard to predict which prospect they will choose.
While there are some question marks surrounding Kentucky center Nerlens Noel as he recovers from an ACL tear last season, he has the highest ceiling of any big man in this draft class. A freak athlete with tremendous defensive abilities and the frame to match, Noel could be a game-changer in Cleveland’s frontcourt.
With Irving and Dion Waiters in place (as well as terrific complementary pieces like Tristan Thompson and Anderson Varejao), there aren’t many areas on which the Cavs have to focus this offseason. Noel is the best option at No. 1 overall, and it would be a huge shock to see Chris Grant choose another direction on draft day.