The random variance gods have spoken, and they're apparently big fans of the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Finishing the 2013-14 season with the ninth-worst record, the Cavs—one of the few lottery participants that actually tried to make the playoffs—received the ultimate reward of vaulting up to No. 1.
Per ESPN Stats & Info, the probability of this occurrence was rather slim.
The Cavaliers had a 1.7% chance to win the 1st pick in this year's lottery— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) May 21, 2014
The Cavaliers beat astronomical odds by winning three of the past four lotteries, according to Grantland's Bill Barnwell.
Odds of the Cavaliers winning 2011, 2013, and 2014 lotteries: 13,467-to-1.— Bill Barnwell (@billbarnwell) May 21, 2014
Of course, they still have to make a successful selection before labeling lottery night a true victory. In a deep draft class oozing with intriguing prospects, no lottery squad should feel truly disappointed—except those who no longer hold a pick.
Here's a look at the finalized order for the 2014 NBA draft, which will take place on Thursday, June 26.
|7||Los Angeles Lakers|
|9||Charlotte Hornets (via Detroit Pistons)|
|10||Philadelphia 76ers (via New Orleans Pelicans)|
|11||Denver Nuggets (via New York Knicks)|
|12||Orlando Magic (via Denver Nuggets)|
Draft Lottery Takeaways
So Much for a Higher Power Hating Cleveland
The Cleveland Cavaliers have mastered this random event they have no power over, winning the lottery for the fourth time in 11 years and seizing three of the last four top selections.
Cleveland always gets every break when it comes to sports. Am I right, CNN's Rachel Nichols?
The Cavaliers have won the draft lottery 3 of the past 4 years. You know what they say about Cleveland: luckiest sports town in the country— Rachel Nichols (@Rachel__Nichols) May 21, 2014
One of those picks became the best player in the world, who then dumped Cleveland on national television. The other gave the team a new star player and a glimmer of hope.
The third is Anthony Bennett.
But wait, wasn't last year the last time the Cavs would partake in the lottery? Grantland's Zach Lowe delicately reminded vice chairman Jeff Cohen about that unfulfilled promise.
Cohen again vowed that Cleveland would not be back at the lottery next season: “We will not be here.” I reminded him as gently as I could that he made the same promise in a chat with me at last year’s lottery. “I did say that,” he laughed. “I did. But I really mean it this year.”
Now that the celebration is over, Dan Gilbert's organization has a tough decision to make with three No. 1-caliber players on the board. Will the Cavs select Andrew Wiggins, Jabari Parker or Joel Embiid?
If they've learned anything from the over-appraisal of fragile 7-footers, they'll eschew Embiid and his back problems to grab one of the forwards. Luol Deng hits free agency this summer, and Andrew Wiggins just might be the most promising prospect to enter the pros since LeBron James.
Being the best at a process that randomly rewards the worst teams isn't much, but it's Cleveland's ticket back to relevancy after missing the postseason every year since James' departure.
It's Still Sunny Enough in Philadelphia (and Milwaukee)
Entering the draft, the Milwaukee Bucks held the best odds of acquiring the top selection to fix a wounded franchise. Now, all they have to show for it is pick No. 2 and the entire Internet creepily drooling over co-owner Wesley Edens' 18-year-old daughter.
On the bright side of losing out on the lottery's grand prize, this is one heck of a draft to pick No. 2. A future star will still be waiting, and it's very possible Milwaukee's top preference remains available for the taking.
At No. 3, the Philadelphia 76ers won't have to exert too much brain power on their choice. Just take the star freshman from the talented trio left standing. Club Trillion founder Mike Titus represents all of us who hate making tough calls.
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 Nerlens Noel, last year's No. 6 pick, set to make his pro debut next season, the 76ers will cross their fingers for Wiggins or Parker to fall. Although landing the Canadian prodigy is a stretch, the Duke forward could very well be Philly's.
Any one of those three guys would have served as a consensus No. 1 selection last year. So, all things considered, the difference from picking first or third is nowhere near as significant as usual.
New Orleans, Detroit Fall Out of First Round
Along with owning the third pick, Philadelphia is also allotted the No. 10 selection, courtesy of the New Orleans Pelicans.
The asset changed hands during last year's draft-day exchange of Noel for Jrue Holliday. This gives Philadelphia the chance to assemble a lineup with Noel, Rookie of the Year Michael Carter-Williams, Thaddeus Young and two top-10 picks.
The pick was top-five protected, meaning New Orleans would have held its right if it sneaked up that high. While the chances of leaping up into the top five were slim, Cleveland's ascent to No. 1 reminded us of Kevin Garnett's boisterous rallying cry.
Just imagine how different the league's landscape would look if New Orleans instead received a chance to pair Parker or Wiggins with Anthony Davis, while Cleveland stayed put at No. 9.
With the eighth-worst record and a top-eight protected pick, Detroit stood a much better chance of keeping its selection. Instead, it slipped a spot to No. 9, transferring the rights to the Charlotte Hornets, formerly the Bobcats.
The choice could have netted the Pistons a much-needed perimeter shooter (Gary Harris, Nik Stauskas, Dario Saric) to space the floor for a crowded offense filled with talent that failed to mesh together last season.
If only everyone could be as lucky as Cleveland.