NBA Teams Under Most Pressure to Get 2014 NBA Draft Lottery Pick Right
When a team is selecting near the top of the draft, very rarely is it in position to take a swing and miss. After all, there's a reason those teams are usually there in the first place, and that's almost always because they didn't have enough talent on the roster.
While every team with a high pick is under pressure come draft time, there are exceptions. Sometimes a team will have just started a full rebuilding process, like the Philadelphia 76ers, and will be able to bounce back rather easily from missing on a high pick. Because it's at the ground level, it has little to lose.
With that being said, the top of this year's draft is loaded with talent and filled with teams that are in dire need of finding a legitimate star. Misses in this class could be on the Sam Bowie and Greg Oden level.
Let's take a look at the five teams that are facing the most pressure to nail their lottery pick on draft day.
Los Angeles Lakers
Perhaps no team is under more pressure to find a future star than the Los Angeles Lakers are. If the Lakers do in fact end up holding on to this pick, he'll need to show some serious chops in his rookie year in order to make Los Angeles a more attractive free-agent destination in 2015.
It's possible that the player selected with the seventh overall pick could end up being the star successor to Kobe Bryant, but he'll need to contribute right away as well. That puts the Lakers in a tricky spot, as they'll need someone who can help now and carry the load down the line.
Here's Bleacher Report's Josh Martin with more on the Lakers' offseason:
There's a lot that could go right for them in the next few years, and some of it probably will...If they hit upon a young star this June, and Bryant is able to serve as a wily, veteran mentor of sorts, the Lakers will need 'only' attract one more centerpiece who's either in the midst of his prime or well on his way to it to complete a core that should allow them to make the most of Kobe's twilight years now and transition smoothly into a new era thereafter.
There's plenty of pressure to find a star at this pick, if only because it's one of the very few "non-Kobe" assets the Lakers currently hold.
While it's probably safe to assume the Lakers will bounce back at some point, failing to get a big talent with this pick or trade it for something of value could set the franchise back years and years. This is a huge draft for the Lakers.
We saw what happened to former Cleveland Cavaliers general manager Chris Grant when he missed on a few first-round picks. With David Griffin at the helm, the Cavs will simply have to do better.
Of course, it's far too early to write off Anthony Bennett, Dion Waiters and Tristan Thompson, but the bar for this year's first selection needs to be much higher. We'll see if it's Andrew Wiggins or someone else, but Cleveland has plenty at stake here and absolutely needs a big talent to put next to Kyrie Irving.
This pick is about both obtaining and retaining talent, after all. Here's what Cavs vice chairman Jeff Cohen told ESPN.com:
'Rebuilding is a process, and we lost a player a number of years back that it was going [to take] some time. Quite frankly it's taken a little bit longer than we'd like, but we've been patient,' Cohen said.
'I think now is the time we're going to reap the rewards of our patience.'
The pressure to draft another star, help keep Irving, make up for past failings and potentially attract a huge free agent in 2015 is enough to make this pick plenty critical. The Cavs haven't been right since LeBron James left, but this is another golden opportunity to put it all together.
The Utah Jazz may seem like a strange inclusion considering they already have a young starter at each position, but securing a future star is going to be necessary if the Jazz want to make the leap.
It's possible the Jazz already have that star on the roster, but more likely than not, more will be needed in the Western Conference.
With Derrick Favors already on a big deal and Gordon Hayward in line to receive one this offseason as a restricted free agent, the Jazz should be running out of major cap room and chances to build a worthy core.
Luckily, Utah is in a position where it can truly draft the best player available, almost regardless of position. While fit is certainly important, the Jazz could use talent upgrades at multiple spots as well. Given the positional flexibility of Hayward and Favors, Utah is in a good spot.
Still, you'd like to think this young core won't be spending too much more time near the top of the draft lottery. Since Utah has never been a prime free-agent destination, this is probably one of the last legitimate chances to net a star that Utah will have.
Here's the good news: DeMarcus Cousins is a legitimate stud at a position where dominant players don't seem to come around all that often.
The bad news? Sacramento is running out of assets to properly surround Cousins with the talent he and the Kings both need.
Depending on how the potential free agency of Rudy Gay (player option) and Isaiah Thomas (restricted) plays out, the Kings will almost certainly be in the luxury tax next season and capped out from making big improvements in free agency.
That's an issue, but the Kings should have a shot at selecting a nice player at pick No. 8, if they decide to keep the pick. Given the cap problems and the likely desire to start winning now, Sacramento could very easily deal the choice and bring back a solid player in return.
Either way, the Kings can't afford to squander this asset, so the pressure is most certainly on.
How long can you rebuild for? The Orlando Magic have followed the "Thunder model" and stayed patient, waiting for high draft picks and cap space while the losses have piled up. With the fourth and 12th picks in this year's draft, however, now is the time to strike.
Simply put, the Magic need more talent. Victor Oladipo should be a great player down the line, and there are some decent frontcourt options with Tobias Harris and Nikola Vucevic, but a big scorer in the backcourt or on the wing is probably necessary to turn this thing around.
Rebuilding always sounds good in theory, but it takes a lot of skill to hit on your draft picks, as well as a lot of luck.
With quite a few players approaching the end of their contracts, such as Arron Afflalo and a few of the younger players, the Magic need to get going before the roster gets expensive and before they gain the label of being a subpar franchise overall.
There isn't as much pressure here as there is on the Lakers or Cavaliers, but to justify the decisions that have been made, these picks needs to pan out.
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