NBA Draft Lottery 2019: Odds to Win No. 1 Pick and Teams That Need It the Most

Steve Silverman@@profootballboyFeatured ColumnistMay 14, 2019

Zion Williamson appears to be the clear No. 1 choice in the NBA draft.
Zion Williamson appears to be the clear No. 1 choice in the NBA draft.Associated Press

The balance of power in the NBA is likely to be impacted during Tuesday night's NBA draft lottery.

This is always a big night in the league because the team that has the first pick in the draft will be determined. The potential No. 1 pick is a game-changing player in Duke power forward Zion Williamson, who announced himself in a manner that told college basketball there was a new superstar on hand.

The 18-year-old appears to be a generational player and is almost unanimously considered the No. 1 pick in the June 20 NBA draft.

Point guard Ja Morant of Murray State and Williamson's Duke teammate, RJ Barrett, are impressive and explosive players who are likely to go in the No. 2 and 3 spots.

But it is the No. 1 pick that all 14 non-playoff teams want to come away with. The New York Knicks, Cleveland Cavaliers and Phoenix Suns have the best chance of claiming that selection under the league's lottery format.

The lottery system gives the teams with the three worst regular-season records an equal chance of the top pick.

The Knicks, Cavaliers and Suns all have a 14.0 percent chance of getting the No. 1 pick and a 52.1 percent chance of a selection in the top four.

Here's a look at this year's odds for all 14 teams involved in the lottery, per Tankathon


Team, Regular-Season Record, Top-4 Pick %, No. 1 Pick %

New York Knicks, 17-65, 52.1%, 14.0%

Cleveland Cavaliers, 19-63, 52.1%, 14.0%

Phoenix Suns, 19-63, 52.1%, 14.0%

Chicago Bulls, 22-60, 48.0%, 12.5%

Atlanta Hawks, 29-53, 42.1%, 10.5%

Washington Wizards, 32-50, 37.2%, 9.0%

New Orleans Pelicans, 33-49, 26.3%, 6.0%

Dallas Mavericks, 33-49, 26.3%, 6.0%

Memphis Grizzlies, 33-49, 26.3%, 6.0%

Minnesota Timberwolves, 36-46, 13.9%, 3.0%

Los Angeles Lakers, 37-45, 9.4%, 2.0%

Charlotte Hornets, 39-43, 4.8%, 1.0%

Miami Heat, 39-43, 4.8%, 1.0%

Sacramento Kings, 39-43, 4.8%, 1.0%


If Williamson is a generational player, every team in the lottery would benefit from his presence.

But the Knicks, who had the worst record in the league, may need him the most.

They were 17-65 last season and missed the playoffs for the sixth season in a row. They are at the bottom of the league, and it has been 46 years since they last won an NBA championship.

Small forward Kevin Knox, who averaged 12.8 points and 4.5 rebounds per game, may be the one player on the roster who appears to have some of the special characteristics needed to make an important contribution in the future.

The 6'7", 285-pound Williamson represents excitement and potential for a franchise that has seen little of either commodity in recent times.

The teenager is a power player with explosive leaping and athletic ability, impressive strength and high-level basketball skills. He averaged 22.6 points and 8.9 rebounds per game last season while shooting 68 percent from the field.

When he is going at full speedwhich basically means when he is healthyhe can take over games. He did that at the college level, and he appears to have the tools to get it done in the NBA.

The Knicks don't have a lot of prime talent on their roster, but they are well-equipped to attack free agency. If they could attract one or more free agents, including players like Golden State's Kevin Durant or Kyrie Irving of the Boston Celtics, they could go from dead last to a playoff team in a short time.

The Cavaliers could use a powerful rookie to improve their fortunes in 2019-20. New coach John Beilein, hired Monday away from his previous position at the University of Michigan, would be one of the prime beneficiaries if Williamson ended up in Cleveland.

The Cavs won the NBA title in 2016 and made it to the NBA Finals in 2017 and '18. However, they don't resemble that team any longer.

The Cavaliers earned their position in the league behind the dominant play of LeBron James, and he left at the end of last season to join the Los Angeles Lakers.

Some Cavaliers fans may take joy in the fact that the Lakers did not have a good season with LeBron, but that just masks the real problem. They were 19-63 last year, tied with the Suns for the second-worst record in the league.

Bringing in Williamson would give the team a legitimate chance to play competitive basketball every night, and the playoffs would have to be considered a strong possibility.

The Cavs still have Kevin Love (17.0 points and 9.4 rebounds per game), and while they could move him to open up salary-cap room, that may be difficult because he still has four years to go on a contract that will pay him $120 million over that time.

Keeping him would give Williamson a legitimate star to play with on an every-night basis. Additionally, the Cavs have last year's No. 8 pick Collin Sexton (16.7 points, 3.0 assists per game) on the roster. While the point guard is not a star man at this point, he looks like a fine complementary player. 

The addition of Williamson to a team with Love and Sexton could mean Cleveland has an excellent chance of making the playoffs.

The Suns appear to be quite a bit further along than the Knicks or Cavs, even though they finished with the same record as Cleveland and just two games better than New York.

The Suns have more talent to work with than either of those teams. Big man DeAndre Ayton was the No. 1 pick in last year's draft, and he averaged 16.3 points and 10.3 rebounds last year.

The 20-year-old did not come in as the dominant player many thought he would be as the No. 1 pick, but he had a solid year and should get better in his second year.

They also have high-scoring point guard Devin Booker, who averaged 26.6 points and 6.8 assists per night. He shot 46.7 percent from the field, and that figure could go up if the Suns also had Williamson because opposing defenses would have to pay attention to the powerful rookie.

If Booker maintains his status, Ayton steps up and Williamson lives up to his promise, the Suns would be an awfully tough team to play next year.

All three teams have a major need for the Duke star, and he could have a huge impact on all of them. The Knicks appear to have the deepest hole to climb out of, and getting themselves in a position to draft Williamson is the key to turning the franchise around.