The Cleveland Cavaliers won the 2013 NBA lottery, their third "win" in 10 seasons, but they aren’t the only team in a good position to improve at this year’s draft.
There are several other teams that have the ability to immediately improve due to the way things went down during the drawing. While all lottery teams are guaranteed their pick of top talent, there are some others that sneaked in or are in favorable positions for other reasons.
Take a quick look at how the first round looks after May 21’s ping-pong balls fell into place:
The Atlanta Hawks will benefit from having two mid-first-round picks at the 2013 NBA draft. Usually, the 17th and 18th selections might not be too inspiring for an organization, but this year’s crop of talent may allow the team to have a big day.
It is widely perceived that there are no clear-cut superstars at the top of this draft. While it isn’t the most exciting year talent-wise, Sports Illustrated’s Chris Mannix thinks that lottery talent could slip into the 20s.
That’s a great thing for the Hawks organization, especially with Joe Johnson and Marvin Williams gone and Josh Smith’s future up in the air. The team can desperately use a facelift, and its two picks will allow it to add two young and potentially dynamic players to rebuild around.
With only a handful players on their payroll for the 2013-14 season ($21,513,022 million in salary, according to Spotrac.com), the Hawks also have the flexibility to acquire big-name players in free agency to finish a potentially impressive offseason.
The only question that remains is whether or not Danny Ferry will get it right.
The Cleveland Cavaliers are no strangers to the top slot of the NBA draft. In fact, they rank pretty high up on the list of top picks since the beginning of the “Common Draft era,” according to ESPN Stats & Info (via Twitter):
The Cavaliers and Rockets have had the most No. 1 picks in the "Common Draft era" (since 1966)-- 5 each— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) May 22, 2013
Two of those top picks recently netted the Cavs Kyrie Irving and LeBron James. The biggest question about the 2013 draft is whether or not a player with that potential exists at the top of the draft.
Those questions have prompted trade rumors around the Cavs and their top selection. ESPN’s Brian Windhorst initially reported (via Twitter) that the team will be looking to move their pick:
With cap space, 2 first round picks & interest in improving fast, the Cavs will investigate trade options with No. 1 pick— Brian Windhorst (@WindhorstESPN) May 22, 2013
General manager Chris Grant didn’t do much to quell those early rumors after the draft lottery.
"We're open," Grant said, according to Jodie Valade of The Plain Dealer. "We're going to look at all our options and make the decision based on what's best for the franchise -- short-term and long-term."
Still, Cleveland has put itself in a very favorable situation leading up to the draft.
Of all the teams preparing for draft day, it is in the best position to markedly improve, whether it deals its top pick to attain a proven veteran player, trades down or uses it to select the best player available.
Remember, it also has the 19th selection after swapping its ownership of the Miami Heat's first-round pick with the Los Angeles Lakers' selection.
Oklahoma City Thunder
The Oklahoma City Thunder won’t be drawing lottery balls anytime soon thanks to the solid, young nucleus of talent centered around Kevin Durant. But that doesn’t mean that the squad won’t have a relatively high pick in this year’s draft.
Toronto surrendered its 12th overall selection to the Thunder through the Houston Rockets after Oklahoma City sent James Harden to Texas before the start of the season. The pick transfer wasn’t a foregone conclusion, though. If the Raptors drew a top-three pick, their selection would have remained with their organization.
Watching the NBA Draft Lottery, OKC fans? Basically if Toronto's pick is 14, 13 or 12, it belongs to OKC. If not, it stays with Toronto.— Darnell Mayberry (@DarnellMayberry) May 22, 2013
It could have been even better for the Thunder had the Raptors floundered this season. However, since the team won as many games as it did, the highest pick that they could have attained was No. 12 overall. There was no chance of a pick landing between No. 4 and No. 11 since all picks after the top three are assigned in order of remaining teams' records.
Which team is in the best position to ace the 2013 NBA draft?
With this added bonus pick, a 60-win team like the Thunder is in a great position to add another scorer to the mix on an already dangerous roster.
They also have some trade ammunition, should they choose to employ it. In addition to the No. 12 selection, the Thunder also possess the 29th and 32nd picks.
Whatever they end up doing on draft day, the Thunder are in a very good position to get immediately better for another championship run in 2014.