The NBA draft represents a great chance for struggling franchises to turn their fortunes around in a hurry. Of course, a lot of this depends on luck with how well the lottery turns out.
Unlike other major sports, the team with the worst record in the regular season is not necessarily guaranteed the first overall pick in the next draft. In fact, it has been 10 years since a team with the worst overall record ended up selecting first due to the lottery.
Here is a look at the odds for each team to get the first pick in the 2014 draft, via ESPN:
|Pos.||Team||Odds for No. 1|
|1||Milwaukee Bucks||25 percent|
|2||Philadelphia 76ers||19.9 percent|
|3||Orlando Magic||15.6 percent|
|4||Utah Jazz||10.4 percent|
|5||Boston Celtics||10.3 percent|
|6||Los Angeles Lakers||6.3 percent|
|7||Sacramento Kings||4.3 percent|
|8||Detroit Pistons||2.8 percent|
|9||Cleveland Cavaliers||1.7 percent|
|10||New Orleans Pelicans||1.1 percent|
|11||Denver Nuggets||0.8 percent|
|12||Orlando Magic||0.7 percent|
|13||Minnesota Timberwolves||0.6 percent|
|14||Phoenix Suns||0.5 percent|
This obviously throws a wrench in any predictions for the upcoming draft. Still, there are certain prospects that would be absolutely perfect fits for NBA teams if the pingpong balls allow it.
Obviously, any squad would love to get the first overall pick to grab an elite talent like Andrew Wiggins. However, these teams would all love to get at least a top-three selection to allow them to get the best prospect specifically for their organizations.
Los Angeles Lakers: Dante Exum, PG/SG, Australia
The Lakers had one of their worst season in years and are clearly looking to grab someone who can turn things around. Kobe Bryant should be back and healthy, but the team needs a player who can be a star for the future.
Dante Exum could be that player thanks to his great size for a guard at 6'5" and elite quickness. ESPN Stats and Info notes how his speed compares to some of the best players in the NBA:
Dante Exum's 3/4 court sprint time of 3.19 is better than Chris Paul (3.22), Steph Curry (3.28), Damian Lillard (3.34)— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) May 16, 2014
He uses this to drive into the lane and score almost at will. Although he still must improve with his distributing, he has the potential to be a star point guard at the next level.
With Steve Nash and Kobe Bryant at the end of their careers in Los Angeles, the organization could use a backcourt stud with loads of upside.
Exum has also proved his Lakers fandom this past season, according to Arash Markazi of ESPN:
Dante Exum is becoming a regular at Lakers games. Will that be a sign of things to come?— Arash Markazi (@ArashMarkazi) March 20, 2014
This seems to be a match made in heaven, but he might not be left on the board if the Lakers are picking at No. 6.
Boston Celtics: Joel Embiid, C, Kansas
Although there are plenty of people concerned about Joel Embiid's potential back issues after the center missed the final few weeks of his college career with injuries, his upside is almost too great to ignore.
Gregg Doyel of CBS Sports called Embiid "the best prospect at center in nearly a decade" and explained why he should be one of the first picks in the draft:
But this kid's ceiling. Nobody knows how high it can be, because Joel Embiid has played basketball for just a few years. He improves not by the year but by the practice. He's a sponge and a prodigy, and if someday he redefines the center position, well, it's just not that hard to imagine.
The Celtics had a relatively poor season, but there are plenty of quality pieces on the roster that could easily be part of a winning team. Jeff Green, Avery Bradley and Jared Sullinger all took big strides this year, while Rajon Rondo remains a cornerstone for the franchise.
However, the squad does not have a true center capable of patrolling the middle of the court. This is something that could help separate the squad from the rest of the league and greatly improve the defense.
If Embiid can live up to his potential, he would be a star in Boston and a big piece to the rebuilding process.
Philadelphia 76ers: Jabari Parker, SF, Duke
The Philadelphia 76ers had the second-worst record in the NBA last season, but they could be in rough shape if the lottery does not go their way. At worst, the struggling franchise could end up with the No. 5 pick of the draft.
In reality, anything outside of the top two would be a major disappointment for the 76ers. The squad was miserable to watch last season and lacked much talent besides Michael Carter-Williams.
However, the squad can use its first pick to bring in a true superstar in the making like Jabari Parker.
In an interview with the Dan Patrick Show, Parker was asked for an NBA comparison to himself. He responded, "A lot of people say Carmelo Anthony. I take a lot of my moves after him," via Kurt Helin of NBC Sports.
While he has a long way to go before he is up to the level of one of the top scorers in the NBA, the comparison is a good one. Parker has a wide skill set on the offensive end that allows him to score in a number of different ways, similar to Anthony coming out of Syracuse.
If he goes to Philadelphia, he would immediately be the go-to scorer and should be an early candidate for Rookie of the Year.
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