The Miami Heat, Indiana Pacers, San Antonio Spurs and Oklahoma City Thunder all have NBA championship aspirations, but there will be another title at stake Tuesday, May 20.
The NBA draft lottery is scheduled, and the immediate future of some of the more downtrodden teams in the league will be at stake. If the ping pong balls bounce the right way, perhaps the Milwaukee Bucks, Philadelphia 76ers or even that scrappy underdog Los Angeles Lakers franchise will be the ones going deep in the playoffs soon.
While it is always interesting to see who represents each team, the most important development of the lottery will be which squad lands the No. 1 pick. With that in mind, here is a look at the odds for that top pick, via Alex Boeder of NBA.com:
|2014 NBA Lottery Odds|
|Team||Record||Chance at First Pick|
Surprisingly, the team with the best chance of winning the top pick has only done so three times since the weighted lottery system was introduced in 1990. The last team to do so was the Orlando Magic in 2004, and they landed Dwight Howard.
The actual draft doesn’t take place until June 26, but the fortunate teams at the lottery will have plenty to choose from this year.
Andrew Wiggins is an athletic freak with incredible upside who can hit the three-pointer, defend anyone from the point guard to smaller power forwards, attack the rim with an explosive first step and finish in the open floor. What's more, he is both faster and a better defender than counterpart Jabari Parker.
However, Parker may be the most NBA-ready of all the top prospects. A year under Mike Krzyzewski’s tutelage will do that for you, and the Duke product can do anything that is asked of him in the half court. He can hit from three and from mid-range, but the most enticing part of his game is his post-up and rebounding abilities, which both improved as the college season progressed.
If the lottery teams are looking for an impact center, they can turn their attention toward Kansas big man Joel Embiid. Still, Embiid is the biggest risk in the draft because of his checkered injury history.
If we are projecting ahead, he could become anything from the next Hakeem Olajuwon to the next Greg Oden depending on how his back and knees hold up.
He is a shot-blocking machine when healthy, and he swallows up rebounds and scores from the low post with ease. All of those skills will certainly translate to the NBA, and it’s not as if his height is going anywhere.
Another thing to consider with Embiid, though, is the fact that he only started playing basketball a few years ago.
Kansas coach Bill Self discussed as much, via Jeff Goodman of ESPN.com: "I don't think anybody could say Jo was making a poor decision by entering the draft. Under almost all circumstances this would be the obvious choice to make. The thing with Jo, what he was weighing was he's still so young in the sport."
The guess here is that Embiid falls out of the top three on draft day because of the health concerns. Still, that means some team could be landing a major steal early in the first round.
Another highly regarded prospect to watch is Dante Exum from Australia. Chad Ford of ESPN points out what Exum’s measurables were during the NBA combine:
That is massive by point guard standards, and his electric athleticism and high basketball IQ, which helps him find open teammates, means he is the total package. Whichever team selects Exum will be getting transition opportunities galore.
The wins will be sure to follow.
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