The 2014 NBA draft lottery is a truly unique event in professional sports. No team in lottery contention is certain which pick they will have in the draft until the ping-pong balls settle. The difference between the No. 1 pick and the No. 5 pick could mean a few extra years of rebuilding, especially when the talent in this draft is clustered around the top.
While the plethora of ping-pong balls bounce around, every lottery team’s hopes are like Schrodinger’s cat: at once both very much alive and dead on arrival. Such is the cruel nature of the lottery’s machinations.
Here is the full list of lottery odds for the No. 1 overall pick, followed by a few predictions of what the likeliest lottery-winning teams will do should they land that coveted position atop the draft.
|2014 NBA Drafty Lottery Odds|
|Team||% Chance for No. 1|
|6||Los Angeles Lakers||6.3%|
|10||New Orleans Pelicans||1.1%|
|12||New York Knicks||0.7%|
The 76ers will be trotting out an NBA legend at the draft lottery, perhaps in a symbolic attempt to hasten their return to basketball relevancy.
The Sixers also own the New Orleans Pelicans' top pick as long as it falls outside of the top five. Considering the Pelicans are slated for a No. 10 pick, it stands to reason the 76ers will snag this pick as well.
If they do, the 76ers could possibly shake up the entire draft by selecting Joel Embiid with the No. 1 pick. The draft is bereft of top-caliber centers after Embiid, and pairing him with Nerlens Noel would make for a truly dangerous twin-tower combination.
The 76ers could then get the offensive help they need on the perimeter with the Pelicans’ pick. They ranked dead last in the NBA in offensive efficiency, scoring just 96.8 points per 100 possessions, as per ESPN’s Hollinger rankings.
Possible selections at the No. 10 spot include Creighton’s Doug McDermott—a power forward, but one who can spread the floor with his ability to knock down three-pointers—or the slick-shooting guard Nik Stauskas from Michigan.
Prediction: Joel Embiid
The Bucks have the likeliest shot at the No. 1 pick and don’t need to get cute by making a case for any player other than Andrew Wiggins, the prospect with the most potential in this year’s draft.
Feast your eyes on exhibit 1-A of his freakish athleticism.
He’s more than just a bundle of fast-twitch muscle fibers. He averaged 17.1 points, 5.9 rebounds and 1.2 steals per game at Kansas. He was a workhorse on the defensive end, which can’t necessarily be said about Jabari Parker. The Bucks had the 29th-ranked defense according to ESPN's Hollinger rankings, coughing up 108.9 points per 100 possessions last season.
Pairing Wiggins with the developing Giannis Antetokounmpo on the wings would create havoc in the passing lanes for opposing offenses. Coupled with a strong return to form from Larry Sanders, the Bucks would be well on their way to forming a strong defense, the bedrock of any potential playoff contender.
Prediction: Andrew Wiggins
The Magic are another team that could hear the sweet sound of the ball ripping through cords of the net more often next season. They finished 29th in offensive efficiency as per ESPN.com, and their starting lineup is full of holes, save for Victor Oladipo and Nikola Vucevic.
The Magic would certainly be tempted by Embiid in this spot, by they have a rising star at center in Vucevic.
Vucevic was a double-double machine in 2013-2014, averaging 14.2 points and 11.0 rebounds per game. The 23-year-old has plenty of time to continue improving, so it behooves the Magic to build up the frontcourt around their solid centerpiece.
Parker is the most natural scorer in this year’s draft and should provide an immediate boost to the Magic’s offense next season. He averaged 19.1 points per game at Duke and could create a devastating high-low combination with Vucevic in the paint.
Utah Jazz’s radio announcer David Locke offered his insight on Parker’s multi-faceted game.
Celtics president of basketball operations Danny Ainge suggested Parker might be the player with the best chance of putting up 20 points a night early on, although he was skeptical of the group as a whole, as per Steve Bulpett of the Boston Herald.
"There are a lot of good players in this draft, guys that can be starters and guys that can play major roles on really good teams,” Ainge said. “But I’m not sure that there are those 20-to-25-point-a-game guys."
Ainge continued: "Jabari averaged 19 points a game in the ACC, so he seems to be the most prepared to do that."
Parker has the potential to make a seamless transition into any NBA offense, and he, Oladipo and Vucevic could form a young triumvirate capable of leading the Magic into a new era of offensive wizardry.
Prediction: Jabari Parker