The 2014 NBA draft will significantly alter the next decade for some teams, but not before the lottery impacts its trajectory.
Just ask the squads that missed out on Shaquille O'Neal, Tim Duncan and LeBron James because of a random drawing of small Ping-Pong balls. A completely unpredictable event can save or ruin select NBA franchises.
This makes it difficult to currently grasp where the top pro prospects will fall, but specific needs shouldn't sway decisions too much when dealing with potential All-Stars. When it comes to a talent like Andrew Wiggins, worry about how he fits into the current scheme later.
Here is a look at the lottery's essential viewing information, along with the odds for each eligible squad snagging the top selection. Although the lottery impacts which team the top rookies will call home, let's see when they're likely to get taken.
2014 NBA Lottery 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%|
NBA.com; *=Picks could be transferred depending on order
Andrew Wiggins, SG/SF, Kansas
It doesn't matter which team lands the No. 1 selection. Andrew Wiggins should fall off the draft board first.
When a player is expected to become the top pick and face of a billion-dollar organization for years, he gets scrutinized on every play. That's how a freshman averaging 17.1 points, 5.9 rebounds, 1.2 steals and 1.0 blocks becomes viewed as disappointing.
Wiggins still has all the tools to excel at the pro level. For those unfamiliar with the 19-year-old, take a look at a photo, courtesy of SportsCenter's Twitter handle, displaying his enormous leaping ability.
DraftExpress' Mike Schmitz delved deeper into the Canadian prodigy's athletic prowess.
Wiggins has everything you could hope for in a wing prospect physically, as he sports excellent size (6-8 in shoes) and length (7-0 wingspan), and is an elite athlete. His frame is on the narrow side, but will undoubtedly fill out as he matures. He's incredibly quick and explosive off his feet, and covers a huge amount of ground with his ridiculously long strides, which allow him to get from the 3-point line to the rim with just one dribble, and makes him a lethal threat in transition (1.3 PPP, fourth best among DX Top-100 Prospects). His body control is excellent and he has a devastating second jump, which gives him excellent potential as an offensive rebounder as well.
These talents don't come around very often, which is why Wiggins will go No. 1 overall ahead of Jabari Parker, who is more equipped for immediate success with less long-term upside.
Projection: No. 1
Dante Exum, G, Australia
Whereas Wiggins and Parker garnered lengthy profile pieces before graduating high school, Dante Exum used the NBA combine to introduce himself to the United States.
The guard flashed tremendous speed and agility at the scouting event, comparing favorably to some of the league's premier point guards, according to ESPN Stats & Info.
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
Exum is enticing as a game-changing scorer whose exciting style of play will energize NBA fans. But like practically every other teenager, Exum has room for improvement. Let's turn to the man himself, courtesy of Sports on Earth's Sean Highkin, to see where he thinks he can further develop.
One thing I've tried to work on is my shooting. Stepping up to the next level is going to be a huge jump, so finishing and post moves too. Defense is really important. If I want to be a point guard in this league, there are a lot of fast point guards, so I think my foot speed is something I need to keep working on, [and] also, my strength. Getting in the weight room.
The lottery outcome will have a bigger effect on Exum's final landing spot. Should the Philadelphia 76ers miss out on Wiggins and Parker, they're more likely to turn elsewhere with 2013-14 Rookie of the Year Michael Carter-Williams running the show.
Needing a floor general to save Victor Oladipo from manning the point, the Orlando Magic would make a lot of sense if they don't sneak into the top two. The Milwaukee Bucks and Los Angeles Lakers can also especially use a fresh face in the backcourt.
Questions regarding Joel Embiid's back will also impact Exum's final destination. Worries about his health could spark memories of Greg Oden, prompting Exum to leap the Kansas center as the No. 3 pick. If not, he shouldn't lag far behind with the fourth selection.
Projection: No. 3-4
Aaron Gordon, F, Arizona
Aaron Gordon is the type of player that could fit in with any organization. Everyone can use a defensive stopper, and he led the NCAA with 3.3 defensive win shares last season, according to Sports-Reference.
He's also a dynamo on transition, giving guards a runaway locomotive to target for chilling dunks on fast breaks. Still a work in progress as a shooter, he can become a deadly weapon with a refined mid-range jumper.
Where should Aaron Gordon go in the 2014 NBA draft?
Two California teams should have their eyes on him early. The Sacramento Kings could pair him with center DeMarcus Cousins, allowing him and Gordon to focus on their contrasting areas of strength.
With a team of deflated veterans and middling placeholders, the Lakers need help everywhere. They were especially putrid defensively, ranking 28th with 110.6 points allowed per 100 possessions, per Basketball-Reference.
If draft order was determined by reverse standings, the Kings and Lakers would pick No. 6 and No. 7, respectively. That sounds just about right for Gordon.
Projection: No. 6-7