The Cleveland Cavaliers messed up last year's No. 1 pick so badly that they're getting a mulligan in 2014.
Entering the lottery with a meager 1.7 percent chance at the top selection, Dan Gilbert's team continued to rake in the LeBron James karma Tuesday night. Not only did the Cavs become the first team since the Orlando Magic in 1992 and '93 to have the No. 1 selection in consecutive years, but they also became one of the biggest long shots ever to have the pingpong balls fall in their favor, as ESPN Stats & Info noted:
Cavaliers are 2nd team that had 9th-best chance to get the No. 1 pick to win lottery since 1994 (Bulls did it in 2008)— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) May 21, 2014
Now, the Cavs have to find a way to somehow pick between Andrew Wiggins, Joel Embiid and Jabari Parker, and they face the increased pressure of potentially missing out on a franchise-changer if they happen to pick the one "sure thing" who doesn't pan out.
As Grantland's Mark Titus argues, it's a blessing and a curse:
Crazy thought (that's maybe not that crazy?): I'd rather pick 3rd than 1st in this draft since 3rd has no pressure of making right decision.— Mark Titus (@clubtrillion) May 20, 2014
With everyone outside of Cleveland once again horribly angered at the NBA, let's take a look at how the first round shakes out following Tuesday night's lottery:
|1||Cleveland Cavaliers||Andrew Wiggins||Kansas|
|2||Milwaukee Bucks||Joel Embiid||Kansas|
|3||Philadelphia 76ers||Jabari Parker||Duke|
|4||Orlando Magic||Dante Exum||Australia|
|5||Utah Jazz||Julius Randle||Kentucky|
|6||Boston Celtics||Aaron Gordon||Arizona|
|7||Los Angeles Lakers||Noah Vonleh||Indiana|
|8||Sacramento Kings||Marcus Smart||Oklahoma State|
|9||Charlotte Hornets||Doug McDermott||Creighton|
|10||Philadelphia 76ers||Nik Stauskas||Michigan|
|11||Denver Nuggets||Gary Harris||Michigan State|
|12||Orlando Magic||Dario Saric||Croatia|
|13||Minnesota Timberwolves||Rodney Hood||Duke|
|14||Phoenix Suns||James Young||Kentucky|
|15||Atlanta Hawks||Adreian Payne||Michigan State|
|16||Chicago Bulls||Tyler Ennis||Syracuse|
|17||Boston Celtics||Zach LaVine||UCLA|
|18||Phoenix Suns||Jerami Grant||Syracuse|
|19||Chicago Bulls||T.J. Warren||NC State|
|20||Toronto Raptors||Kyle Anderson||UCLA|
|21||Oklahoma City Thunder||P.J. Hairston||UNC/Texas Legends|
|22||Memphis Grizzlies||Jusuf Nurkic||Bosnia and Herzegovina|
|23||Utah Jazz||K.J. McDaniels||Clemson|
|24||Charlotte Hornets||Cleanthony Early||Wichita State|
|25||Houston Rockets||Jordan Adams||UCLA|
|26||Miami Heat||Shabazz Napier||Connecticut|
|27||Phoenix Suns||Clint Capela||Switzerland|
|28||Los Angeles Clippers||Elfrid Payton||Louisiana-Lafayette|
|29||Oklahoma City Thunder||Mitch McGary||Michigan|
|30||San Antonio Spurs||C.J. Wilcox||Washington|
Yes, with a stacked draft class, the pressure to "get it right" is multiplied. But with this group of prospects, there is no way you cannot "get it right."
Let's start with Andrew Wiggins. The man who won the combine without actually attending the combine has freakish athletic tools. Pair that with his smooth skill set and his high basketball IQ, and you have a player with the potential to score 20 a game and be named to the NBA All-Defensive first team for the next 15 years.
“I always put myself No. 1 above anybody else," Wiggins told ESPN's First Take, via ZagsBlog's Adam Zagoria. "That’s just me. I got a lot of confidence in myself."
The 19-year-old Canadian needs to consistently display that kind of confidence on the hardwood, but all the pieces are there to make a dominant two-way player.
And according to many, he wasn't even the best NBA prospect on his team.
That honor would go to Joel Embiid.
Jo-Jo is scary-scary on the basketball court. At 7'0" with strength, agility and athleticism, he is an obvious rim protector and rebounder. What makes the Cameroonian so special, though, is his offensive polish—footwork, array of moves in the post, ability to pass out of double-teams—despite playing just three years of organized basketball.
CBS Sports' Jon Rothstein put it simply:
Amazing how Joel Embiid's back has changed landscape of draft. KU big man would be clear cut No. 1 pick if not for injury. Now one of three!— Jon Rothstein (@JonRothstein) May 20, 2014
While Embiid failed to put those injury concerns to rest during the combine, he recently assured us that he is perfectly healthy, via CSNNE's A. Sherrod Blakely:
Joel Embiid tells Sirius XM radio that his back is "100 percent; no pain, nothing. I been working out, just to get back in the shape."— A. Sherrod Blakely (@SherrodbCSN) May 20, 2014
One general manager, via Forbes' Mark Heisler, said, "His ceiling is Hakeem Olajuwon. His basement is Serge Ibaka."
If a team is looking for more of an immediate impact, then Jabari Parker is the choice.
A versatile offensive weapon, the man who was dubbed "The Best High School Player Since LeBron James" before Wiggins was dubbed "The Best High School Player Since LeBron James" seems like a lock for Rookie of the Year no matter where he lands.
Defense is an issue, but his ability to score from every spot on the court is undeniably tantalizing. ESPN's Dick Vitale put it simply:
Then, you have two wild cards in Dante Exum and Julius Randle, each of whom could easily sneak into the top three.
Who will Cleveland take No. 1 overall?
Exum is built in the Michael Carter-Williams mold. His jump shot needs work, but he is extremely long—a near 6'10" wingspan for a point guard is silly—and a talented playmaker with the ball in his hands. Randle, on the other hand, is a relentless, physical big man who can control the glass and has a nice inside-out offensive game.
No matter how the potential order shakes out, one thing is clear: The teams with the top five picks—not just Cleveland—should feel extremely happy about how Tuesday's lottery played out.