NBA Draft Lottery’s Winners and Losers

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The NBA Draft Lottery is sometimes only interesting to the super-nerd NBA fans, but even for the casual fans, the night was a bit more appealing this time around. The playoffs have been rather bland by comparison to previous years, and an Eastern Conference finalist had the best odds to win the top pick in the draft.

Like everything in sports, there were winners and losers. Who won big and who left disappointed?


Boston Celtics

Boston came into the night of May 16 with a good situation that could become a lot better. Keep the top pick and they add a super valuable asset to an already stocked cupboard to either draft a potential franchise cornerstone, or piece together the pick with other assets to trade for a big-time star and go for it all now. Worst case scenario, the pick drops to no. 4, where the player chosen could still turn out to be just as good as the guy at no. 1.

There was no losing on this night for the Celtics. It was more of “Winning” versus “Winning big.” Luckily for them, they won big.

Los Angeles Lakers

This was one of the biggest storylines coming into the night: either the Lakers secure a top three pick, or they lose it to Philly as well as their first round pick in 2019 to Orlando.

With faith in D’Angelo Russell diminishing in LaLa Land, this year would be the perfect chance to take SoCal superstar Lonzo Ball. Now that they have kept their pick, they will have the chance to do that.

Philadelphia 76ers

The best case scenario for Philly on Lottery Night was getting two of the top four picks, either by them getting in the top three and the Lakers falling out, or the Lakers falling out and the Kings jumping up into the top three.

Neither of those scenarios happened as LA kept their pick, but the Sixers did still luck out: Sacramento jumped up into the top three. Thanks to an awfully lopsided trade concocted by Lord Sam Hinkie in 2015, Philadelphia had the rights to swap picks with the Kings. Sacramento jumped from 8 to 3, but had to move back to 5, where Philly landed.

Not only that, but Philly also got the Lakers’ 2018 first round pick — unprotected — since LA kept their pick this year. There’s no telling how good the Lakers could be next season, especially if they make a move for Paul George. But draft experts will tell you that the 2018 class could be as good as 2017’s, if not better. We will see how that develops throughout the year, but that pick should be very valuable nonetheless.

Sacramento Kings

You might be asking, “But they got a top three pick and had to give it up!” It’s more about them not losing than winning.

It’s easy to be negative with anything regarding the Kings, but there are positives to take away from this night. First off, they went from no. 8 to no. 5. They could have had three teams jump them, pushing them from 8 to 11. Or, they could have just stayed put. Five is a better pick than eight.

Also, thanks to another poor trade agreement where the Kings allowed New Orleans to protect their pick within the top three, Sacramento could have traded away DeMarcus Cousins with not only no lottery pick in exchange, but no first round pick in general. It would have converted into a second round pick. The pick is top 1 protected through 2020 before the protection drops altogether.

Sure, it could have been better. But those bad deals are in the past. The Kings come out of it with the no. 5 and no. 10 pick. There’s no reason to complain.


Phoenix Suns

Phoenix has been begging for a star player ever since the Steve Nash era ended. The closest they have gotten is Devin Booker, but he’s only two years in. He may be on track, but there’s no guarantee he gets there.

Entering the night with the second best odds, it seemed they may have finally gotten some good luck on their side. If they kept that second pick, they likely would have had their choice of Lonzo Ball, Josh Jackson, Jayson Tatum, or whoever else they wanted.

They were vaulted by the Sixers and Lakers and fell to no. 4. Another case where tanking didn’t necessarily equate to the way it was intended.

Orlando Magic

The Magic may be the most hopeless franchise in the league. Even the Nets, who had to watch Boston take their no. 1 overall pick, are establishing a culture and have some intriguing young players at multiple positions. Orlando has Aaron Gordon, who has some potential. Frank Vogel is a good coach. What else is there?

It would have been great for them to jump into the top three. Instead, with Sacramento jumping them, they moved backwards, going from the fifth pick to the sixth pick. I feel for you, Magic fans.

New York Knicks

Entering a summer where the Knicks might trade Carmelo Anthony for a second round pick and multiple garbage contracts, it would have been nice to at least have a shiny young talent to pair with Kristaps Porzingis. They, like the Magic, were punished by Sacramento’s leap. They moved from no. 7 to no. 8.

Brooklyn Nets

You knew it was coming, Nets fans. I’m sorry. But the mean man that put you into this situation is gone now. He can’t hurt you any longer. Your arena is cool and you have a general manager with a great accent. Things aren’t that bad…

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Sports Journalism Graduate, IUPUI. Writing about money, business, electric vehicles, and more.

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