The NBA draft lottery is perhaps the most glorious and easily the most laughably insane yearly hallmark on the league's pre-June calendar.
It is certainly the greatest pregame telecast of any particular season. The action on the dais alone could be a sitcom. Uncomfortable executives feigning half-hearted smiles. Former players you'd completely forgotten about appear from nowhere. Sometimes bad local rappers even join in on the fun.
Couple that with an ever-increasing tension within the room as each envelope is revealed, and you have perhaps the greatest half hour of television on the planet. Unless, like, you enjoy seeing people in a comfortable or inhabitable environment. Then the lottery is just kinda uncomfortable.
This year's Nick Gilbert extravaganza takes place Tuesday, as ESPN will broadcast the results prior to Game 2 of the Miami Heat and Indiana Pacers' conference finals series. With Andrew Wiggins, Joel Embiid and Jabari Parker standing out as potential perennial All-Stars, there is no shame in having any of the first three picks.
In fact, there are probably seven players who would have been the consensus top prospect in last year's draft. Heck, given what we know about the 2013 crop, the entire first round this time around might be better than the prior lottery.
With that in mind, let's take a look at all the necessary broadcast information and highlight some notable takeaways from the draft combine.
2014 NBA Combine Schedule
When: Tuesday, May 20 at 8 p.m. ET
|Los Angeles Lakers||6.3%|
|New Orleans Pelicans*||1.1%|
|Orlando Magic (from New York Knicks, via Denver Nuggets)||0.7%|
*Asterisk Denotes Pick May Be Conveyed
Draft Combine Winners
Aaron Gordon, PF, Arizona: Gordon is a freak athlete. I know this. You know this. NBA teams do as well. Now we have statistical verification of what shows up on film. Gordon left mouths agape in Chicago with his athletic testing, grading out as arguably the best pound-for-pound athlete in this class. His 39-inch vertical was the third-highest in combine history for a big man, per ESPN Stats & Info. His 2.76-second shuttle run was the fastest of any player. Gordon also measured among the quickest players in the lane-agility drill (10.81 seconds) and measured at nearly 6'9" in shoes—the height he'll officially be listed at as an NBA player.
Zach LaVine, SG, UCLA: Heading into the combine, many expected the UCLA guard to go rocketing up draft boards because his skill set is so tailor-made for the setting. LaVine did just that. He wowed with a maximum vertical of 41.5 inches—better than all but two other participants—and showed impressive lateral quickness and first-step speed.LaVine had the best lane-agility time of any prospect by more than three-tenths of a second (10.42 seconds—Dante Exum came in at 10.75). Teams also left impressed with LaVine's shooting ability—particularly in the non-stationary drills. Given he's being pushed by his agents as a combo guard, LaVine's ability to hit shots on the move was something everyone wanted to see. He's solidly in the back half of the lottery now.
Noah Vonleh, PF, Indiana: I've graded Gordon, Julius Randle and Vonleh roughly the same throughout the process. Vonleh was impressive enough at the combine to solidify himself in that conversation. His 7'4" wingspan and massive hands allow for imaginations to run wild about his ability to alter shots near the rim despite his slight frame. Vonleh is also a better leaper than most expected with a max vertical of 36". He possesses nowhere near Gordon's athleticism and quickness nor does he have Randle's collegiate production. But come draft night, Vonleh might end up jumping over both due to his potential.
Draft Combine Losers
Jerami Grant, SF, Syracuse: A positional tweener with a mixed college resume, Grant did himself no favors in Chicago. The Syracuse forward finished with the second-worst shooting percentage among participating players (46.5 percent), flashing the same inconsistent stroke that rendered him a space-eater in college. Grant also opted out of athletic training, a curious move pulled by only seven attendees. Measuring with a 7'2" wingspan will help mitigate his lack of ideal size, but that's about the only positive that came from Grant's week.
LaQuinton Ross, SF, Ohio State: Dude. You can't show up to the combine overweight. That's like showing up to the biggest job interview of your life after The Walk of Shame. It's just...nope. Can't do it. Ross, graded as a second-round pick regardless, came in at 239 pounds and had 16.3 percent body fat—three percent higher than any other player. He was also slightly shorter than his listed 6'8" in college. The shooting drills went a little better, but it's hard to convince teams to take a chance on a non-elite prospect who can't bother to show up in shape. Ross has a lot of goodwill to rebuild between now and June if he hopes to be drafted.
K.J. McDaniels, SF, Clemson: McDaniels is far from out of shape. His 4.45 percent body fat was among the lowest of any player, and he actually came in lighter than his listed 200 pounds. The latter isn't exactly a good thing. McDaniels' biggest knock is his lack of position, and given that he measured just 6'6" in shoes, those feelings aren't going to dissipate. He failed to exhibit an improved outside jumper, had the slowest lane-agility time of any prospect (12.71 seconds) and graded closer to bigs than swing players in speed drills. The 33-inch standing vertical was impressive, though.
|8||Marcus Smart||Oklahoma State||Sophomore||PG|
|9||Gary Harris||Michigan State||Sophomore||SG|
|13||Adreian Payne||Michigan State||Senior||PF|
|22||P.J. Hairston||North Carolina||Junior||SG|
|24||T.J. Warren||North Carolina State||Sophomore||SF|
|25||Cleanthony Early||Wichita State||Senior||SF|
|27||Glenn Robinson III||Michigan||Sophomore||SF|
Combine stats via NBA.com.
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