Tonight is the annual NBA Draft Lottery. Every team which did not make the playoffs is given a certain amount of numbered lottery balls. The team with the worst record, the Nets, have the most balls, whereas the Houston Rockets have the least.
Unlike in years past, this lottery will have ramifications on the entire off-season. A simple drop of the balls may determine free agents, trades, and even new coaches. Without further ado, here are the top ten NBA Draft Lottery Storylines.
Since 2004, when the Orlando Magic drafted Dwight Howard with the first pick, the worst team in the NBA has never won the draft lottery. This year, the Nets have a 25% chance to win the lottery and are guaranteed a top four pick.
Ideally, the team would love to win and draft John Wall out of Kentucky. Wall would be the dynamic Point Guard the team has been looking for and can enter into the starting lineup immediately.
The Nets have won the lottery in 1990 and in 2000 so can they continue their good luck in this decade?
Last year, with the fifth pick in the draft, the Minnesota Timberwolves drafted Ricky Rubio out of Spain. Rubio decided not to take the Timberwolves offer and return to Spain for another season.
This year, it is likely Rubio will make the transition to the NBA but I doubt it will be for the Timberwolves.
The team has a 19.9% chance to get the top pick of the draft and the rumors suggest that the team likes Evan Turner from Ohio State more than John Wall.
David Kahn, the team's GM, has a lot of options should the team receive the first pick: sign and trades involving Rubio, trade down, or simply draft Turner at one.
Tonight, at the NBA Draft, the United States will be introduced to perhaps the most influential man in sports: Mikhail Prokhorov.
Last week, Prokhorov was approved by the NBA as the first foreign born owner of an NBA franchise: The New Jersey Nets.
Prokhorov, the richest man in Russia, will be on hand tonight as the Nets hope for Wall and perhaps a path towards signing Lebron James.
Will Prokhorov's wealth influence any free agents to bolt to Jersey or will his inexperience with American Basketball deter anyone?
This year, the Kentucky Wildcats, a young but talented team, was able to reach the Elite Eight. The team, lead by players such as DeMarcus Cousins, John Wall, Patrick Patterson, Daniel Orton, and Patrick Patterson are all high NBA Draft Prospects and at least four of them are expected to go in the first round.
Depending how the lottery balls fall, the team may be having three lottery picks this year: Cousins, Wall, and Patterson. Wall seems like the first or second pick, Cousins the third or forth, and Patterson will most likely be drafted in the ten range.
For the past few months, there have been rumors that NBA Teams with coaching vacancies such as the Bulls, Nets, Clippers, and perhaps the Cavs, may be looking at College Basketball to fill their vacancies.
One of the hottest names right now is John Calipari, the coach at Kentucky. Yesterday, rumors were swirling that Calipari and Lebron may end up together in Chicago, but at this point it seems highly unrealistic.
If any college coach, such as Tom Izzo or Calipari does decide to make the transition to the NBA, it may be to a lottery team such as the Nets and Clippers.
Will the Coach Calipari and John Wall be playing for each other again in Newark/Brooklyn? This lottery can have a huge impact on those rumors.
This season, Butler captured the hearts of millions of people as it made an improbable run to the NCAA Finals. No one predicted Butler, a small school near Indianapolis to have a chance against the traditional powerhouse, Duke, but the team, lead by Gordon Hayward, came closer than anyone expected.
After a last ditch effort by Hayward from the half court line missed the basket by half an inch, Duke went on to win 60-59. Hayward was spectacular in the tournament, averaging close to 17 points per game.
Hayward is not the strongest or fastest player available in the draft, but he plays with great effort and enthusiasm. Most mock drafts have him going 15th overall to Milwaukee but the Rockets or Jazz may take a stab at him in the lottery, as long as they don't get a top three pick.
During the last few years, the woeful Knicks have been clearing up cap space for the summer of 2010. Before then, the team made many questionable moves such as acquiring Eddy Curry, Jerome James, and even Stephon Marbury. As part of the Marbury deal, the Knicks traded their 2010 draft pick to Phoenix which eventually landed in Utah's lap. This pick, projected to be eighth, has about a 8% chance of landing one of the top three picks.
Just imagine the reaction of Knicks fans throughout the world if the Jazz now get the number one pick! This one pick could have made the Knicks the front runners in the Lebron chase.
Perhaps the biggest prize in the NBA Lottery is not having the first pick but having what may go with it: Lebron James.
James and John Wall are good friends and would love to play together under the ideal situation. One of these situations may be in Newark and Brooklyn for the Nets.
Currently, the Nets have Devin Harris, an All-Star caliber guard, and Brook Lopez, one of the emerging Big Men in the league. If Wall and Lebron joined the team, the Nets could have one of the biggest turnarounds in NBA history: from 12 wins to the playoffs.
Other possible teams for a Lebron and Wall combination include the Los Angeles Clippers and the Washington Wizards. If Wall lands in a destination Lebron doesn't want to play in, this can help the chances of the Bulls or the Knicks luring King James.
Over the last few years, there have been many All-Star players who were not drafted in the lottery. Some of these players include Carlos Boozer (picked 35th), Manu Ginobli (picked 57th) and Monta Ellis (picked 40th).
This year, some of the potential sleepers include Willie Warren from Oklahoma, Grevis Vasquez from Maryland, and Avery Bradley from Texas. It will be interesting to see if any team trades down to acquire more potential sleepers in the second round.
Tonight will mark the beginning of a bright future for some teams and will frustrate others. The NBA Draft is one of the most interesting phenomenon in all of sports: no team is guaranteed to pick where it is sitting now. In football and baseball, everyone knows the draft order, but not in basketball.
Below are the odds of every team capturing a top three pick:
Team No. 1 No. 2 No. 3
New Jersey 25.00 21.49 17.73
Minnesota 19.90 18.79 17.08
Sacramento 15.60 15.72 15.55
Warriors 10.40 11.20 12.08
Washington 10.30 11.10 12.00
Philadelphia 5.30 6.03 6.97
Detroit 5.30 6.03 6.97
Clippers 2.30 2.69 3.22
Utah (via N.Y.) 2.20 2.57 3.08
Indiana 1.10 1.30 1.57
New Orleans 0.80 0.95 1.15
Memphis 0.70 0.83 1.01
Toronto 0.60 0.71 0.87
Houston 0.50 0.59 0.72
To watch the lottery tonight, tune into ESPN at 8:00pm EST.
Good luck to all of your teams!