In the past several years, winning the NBA draft lottery has meant being rewarded with the No. 1 overall pick.
On Tuesday, though, a top-five pick will be enough cause for celebration.
For the last year—at least—the 2014 draft class has been labeled as a can't-miss game changer. As certain prospects have failed to live up to unattainable expectations, however, it has become somewhat murky as to whether this year's crop is actually overrated or underrated.
There's no real answer to that. Those two words are subjective and typically carry very little substance. But one thing is certain: There is no shortage of talent at the top of this draft.
Andrew Wiggins and Joel Embiid are potential franchise changers, and while Jabari Parker's ceiling may be a story lower, he has enough offensive refinement and versatility to be an All-Star—like, last year.
With so much talent (we didn't even mention Dante Exum or Julius Randle—well, now we did), there is no consensus No. 1 pick. Different teams will have different preferences.
That said, let's take a look at which players some of the teams with the best chances in the lottery will target should they win the top selection.
When: Tuesday, May 20, at 8 p.m. ET
2014 NBA Draft Lottery Odds
Milwaukee Bucks: Andrew Wiggins
|Draft Lottery Odds|
|6||Los Angeles Lakers||6.3%|
|10||New Orleans Pelicans||1.1%|
|12||New York Knicks||0.7%|
Last season, the Milwaukee Bucks were the second-worst defensive team in the NBA, giving up 108.9 points per 100 possessions. The necessity to improve on that side of the ball eliminates Parker, who has question marks about his ability to guard.
Wiggins and Embiid both have First-Team All-Defense potential, and they both have the length and athleticism that the Bucks like. Essentially, this comes down to how they ultimately view Larry Sanders going forward. The VCU product broke out in a big way in 2012-13, but injuries and an endless stream of off-the-court issues limited him to just 23 underwhelming games this season.
ESPN's Marc Stein reported that the Dallas Mavericks may attempt to trade for the embattled center, but don't expect Milwaukee general manager John Hammond, who gave Sanders a four-year, $44-million extension last summer, to jump ship quite yet.
Moreover, there's the injury risk that comes with Embiid, which Hammond, via Adam Zagoria of NBA.com, touched on:
Wiggins still has plenty of room to grow, but this is an athletically gifted specimen with the ability to dominate on both ends of the court for the next decade. Besides, the potential of a Brandon Knight-Giannis Antetokounmpo-Andrew Wiggins-John Henson-Larry Sanders starting lineup will be too tantalizing to pass up.
Philadelphia 76ers: Andrew Wiggins
Do the Sixers, the worst offensive team in the NBA last season, go with Jabari Parker to add an immediate scoring punch? Or do the Sixers, the fastest team in the NBA last season, go with Andrew Wiggins, an absolute menace in the open court?
The fact that Philly is still extremely young points toward the latter.
76ers general manager Sam Hinkie is undoubtedly building a dangerous team. However, besides Thaddeus Young, the stars are babies. Rookie of the Year Michael Carter-Williams is entering his second season, and Nerlens Noel will start his rookie year over again in 2014-15, having not played a game due to injury. The future is bright, but contention is still more than a year off.
That allows the Sixers to go with the player with the highest ceiling, and that's Wiggins.
Orlando Magic: Jabari Parker
Much like the Sixers, the Magic couldn't score the ball last season, averaging a meager 99.3 points per 100 possessions.
However (and remember, this can all change in free agency), the current roster is built to contend much sooner than Philly. Arron Afflalo has entered his prime, Nikola Vucevic has two really good seasons already under his belt and Tobias Harris will amazingly be entering his fourth season. There's youth, but there's plenty of experience, too.
Throw in a stud like Victor Oladipo, and some solid bench pieces in Kyle O'Quinn and Andrew Nicholson, and this team is very close to winning.
The temptation for the point-guard needy Magic to add Exum will be present, but by taking Parker, GM Rob Hennigan gets a versatile scorer who will help Orlando compete for the postseason right away.
That is, if he gets a true floor general, too.
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