2011 NBA Draft Lottery: Which Teams Have the Most to Gain, Most to Lose?
On Tuesday night, the 14 teams that failed to make the 2011 NBA Playoffs will find out their fate in this year's NBA draft. The lottery marks an exciting times for the playoff "left-outs" that see the draft as their way to improve in areas that were obviously lacking.
This year's draft class has solid potential with big names coming from the usual, and not so usual, places.
Duke PG Kyrie Irving is the unanimous choice for top guard even though he was out for most of the season with a toe injury. He has the ability to come in and give a team a Derrick Rose–like boost.
Arizona forward Derrick Williams could give a number of teams their "forward of the future" with his offensive game and good fundamentals.
All 14 teams will be watching closely on Tuesday night to see if they can get the almighty No. 1 overall pick. The Minnesota Timberwolves have the highest likelihood of receiving the pick, followed by the Cleveland Cavaliers and Toronto Raptors.
Here are the teams that have the most to gain, and most to lose, in the 2011 NBA draft lottery.
Most to Lose: 3. Detroit Pistons
Doug Pensinger/Getty Images
Things got pretty ugly in Detroit this season, and when I say ugly, I mean really ugly.
Not only did the team finish with a record of 30-52 and miss the playoffs, during the middle of the season, veteran members of the team staged a boycott of practice in protest of their head coach. Veteran Piston Rip Hamilton even reportedly lashed out at the coach with an expletive-filled episode during practice.
With all of the reported conflict between John Kuester and the Piston players last season, Detroit is in desperate need of new, fresh talent to come in and rejuvenate a once storied franchise. Fans are tired of the bickering and want to see a championship contender once again, especially in a city hurt hardest by the financial crisis.
If Detroit can somehow slide up into the No. 1 spot, they could take Derrick Williams and have a incredible backcourt future with Greg Monroe playing along the offensive sound forward out of Arizona.
If Detroit fails to make a splash and ends up taking a risk on an international unknown player who proves to be a bust (Darko Milicic), Detroit's future could be looking very bleak. While Detroit has a lot to gain in this draft, they have a lot more to lose.
Most to Gain: 3. Toronto Raptors
Ezra Shaw/Getty Images
It is starting to look more and more like the Andrea Bargnani experiment is not working out in Toronto. While the big man has talent and could make for a very formidable backup for a contender, his speed and lack of defense may mean his starting days in the NBA are numbered.
Toronto fans are desperate for a return to the glory days when Vince Carter had the Raptors making the playoffs (1999-2002). Toronto has been known for taking international prospects and that could very well be the case this year with 6'11" center Enes Kanter (Kentucky via Turkey).
Questions with Kanter's knees have arisen, however, which may lead to Toronto taking a different approach. The Raptor's have a 15.6 percent chance of winning the lottery this year and if they get lucky and slide into that position, they could have the PG of the future fall into their hands in Duke PG Kyrie Irving.
The Toronto Raptors have much to gain in this year's draft.
Most to Lose: 2. Washington Wizards
Rob Carr/Getty Images
Even though the Wizards finished fifth in the Southeast Division with a record of 23-59, things are looking bright in the nation's capital.
The Wizards have amassed a strong nucleus for the future with John Wall, Nick Young and Javale McGee and are looking to add onto it in this year's draft.
There has been a lot of talk about the Wizard's being very interested in forward Jan Vesely out of the Czech Republic. Vesely could give Washington a dead-on shooter who is athletic and can create mismatches. He also has experience playing for European powerhouse Partizan Belgrade.
With every European prospect though come fears of a huge bust who cannot keep up with the pace and athleticism of the NBA. Will Vesely be the next Dirk Nowitzki or the next Darko Milicic? With that unknown, the Wizards have a lot to lose.
Most to Gain: 2. Minnesota Timberwolves
Rob Carr/Getty Images
After years of losing since the Kevin Garnett trade, Minnesota is starting to amass a good group of youngsters to work around.
Kevin Love was named the League's Most Improved Player and has hopes high in Minnesota (that is, if he decides to stick around long enough to see success). The Wolves selected promising Spanish PG Ricky Rubio last year and are hoping he decides to hop across the pond to lead the team to greatness.
To add onto all of that, the team has the highest likelihood to receive the No. 1 overall pick. For that, they have much to gain in this year's draft.
If they are able to receive the pick Tuesday night, Minnesota could decide to give up on Rubio and Johnny Flynn and pick promising PG Kyrie Irving out of Duke. They could also trade Michael Beasley and select offensive firepower Derrick Williams of out Arizona.
Whatever their decision, Minnesota should be getting a great talent to play alongside K Love.
Most to Lose: 1. Cleveland Cavaliers
Gregory Shamus/Getty Images
Sure. Cleveland could very well be the team with the most to gain of out this year's draft. If the team gets lucky and gets the No. 1 overall pick, they would have the power to pick any player in this draft to lead them back to respectability.
Even at No. 2 (where they have are expected to be), the Cavs can select Irving or Williams to give them a promising young player to build the future around.
Kyrie Irving could be the new "Chris Paul" in town and be the playmaker they need.
Derrick Williams could also be someone to build around, a promising 6'9" forward who has the offensive skills needed to succeed in the NBA and a tremendous amount of energy.
With all of that being said, the Cleveland Cavaliers actually have the most to lose in this year's draft. Things cannot get any worse than they did last year, so anything less than a No. 2 overall selection will be a disappointment for Cavaliers faithful.
The city of Cleveland is in desperate need of rejuvenation and that could come with this year's NBA draft. That being said, the Cavs desperately need either Irving or Williams and anything less will be considered a failure or, at most, an unknown.
Cleveland has the most to lose in this year's NBA draft.
Most to Gain: 1. Sacramento Kings
Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images
The Sacramento Kings are going to be in town for at least one more year and the league is happy about it. Sacramento has some of the greatest fans in the league and the team evokes memories of Chris Weber, Vlade Divac, Peja Stojakovic and Bobby Jackson. The thought of the team moving down to Anaheim is tough to swallow and would be a blow to a great city.
That being said, the team has struggled mightily in the past several years. Despite racking up young stars in Tyreke Evans, Demarcus Cousins and Omri Casspi, the Kings have still had a tough time getting to a consistent winning level. While there was improvement this season, one more player is needed to get them over the hump.
That is why the Sacramento Kings have the most to gain in this year's NBA draft. Not only are they in danger of losing their team in coming years, the team finally has enough talent that the thought of the playoffs in the near future is not out of the question.
If the Kings are lucky enough to move up into one of the top two spots, imagine what a forward like Derrick Williams would do for this team/city. Williams, combined with Cousins, Evans and Casspi would make for a tremendous lineup that could compete for titles down the line. Not only that, a successful team could help fans/citizens/owners of Sacramento finally come together to finance a new NBA arena that could house the team.
The Sacramento Kings have the most to gain in this year's NBA draft.