In preparation for tonight’s Draft Lottery, Kings.com joins fellow participating teams for an extensive preview, as compiled by Pelicans.com’s Jim Eichenhofer.
With the 2013 NBA Draft Lottery taking place Tuesday at 5:30 p.m. PDT on ESPN, Kings.com joins fellow participating teams to break down three pressing Lottery questions for each club.
Alex Kramers, Kings.com
Pre-lottery slot: 6
Boasting a nucleus of up-and-coming stars, the high-octane Kings led the NBA in pace (98.53), ranked second in scoring (106.8 points per game), and placed third in fastbreak points (18.9) and points in the paint (46.1) after the All-Star break. Guards Marcus Thornton and Isaiah Thomas set career-highs in three-pointers made, helping the team establish a franchise record for triples in a season (610), while connecting on 38.1 percent of its attempts behind the arc over the second half of the year. At the same time, Sacramento finished 26th in rebounding, 28th in blocks and opposing field-goal percentage and 30th in defensive rating in 2012-13, making a defensive stalwart one of the offseason priorities. In a Draft Lottery pool loaded with size, shot-blocking talent and high basketball IQ, the addition of an athletic big man to help protect the paint and clean the glass or a strong, defensive-minded wing could make a major impact. In addition, since the team ranked 19th in field-goal percentage and 25th in assists, the Kings may set their sights on a high-caliber playmaking guard or swingman who can score from the perimeter.
What Getting a Top 3 Pick Would Mean for the Kings
The Kings hold 6.3-percent odds of securing the first-overall selection and the highest probability (43.9 percent) of nabbing pick No. 6. Since landing the No. 1-overall choice in 1989 (Pervis Ellison), Sacramento is yet to move up in the lottery, selecting just once in the top three (1991 – Billy Owens). Jumping from its projected spot would give the team an opportunity to land another potential franchise cornerstone capable of making an immediate impact. As the Kings aim to get back into postseason contention, adding a top-three pick could instantaneously fill team needs by either pairing rising star DeMarcus Cousins with a talented frontcourt prospect or adding a pass-first point guard to compliment Thomas, Thornton and Tyreke Evans in the high-scoring backcourt.
Kings Lottery Luck
Sacramento looks to defy lottery odds, where it has moved down from its projected draft position in eight of the previous 17 drawings – twice falling the maximum three spots. Yet, while the ping pong balls haven’t always bounced the team’s way, the Kings have continuously landed exceptional talent in the draft, including Rookie of the Year Evans (No. 4 in 2009), one of the NBA’s top young big men in Cousins (No. 5 in 2010) and outside scoring threat Jimmer Fredette (No. 10 in 2011 – acquired via trade that included Sacramento’s No. 7 selection).
Dan Savage, OrlandoMagic.com
Pre-lottery slot: 1
While the Magic take no satisfaction in finishing with the NBA’s worst record in 2012-13, there is now immense hope surrounding a franchise that was deep in drama this time last year. During the 2012 offseason, the Magic parted ways with former President of Basketball Operations Otis Smith and Head Coach Stan Van Gundy and instituted a new regime led by General Manager Rob Hennigan and Head Coach Jacque Vaughn. Hennigan instantly set the franchise in a different direction. Once marred with bloated contracts, a high cap figure and the Dwight Howard circus, the Magic’s new GM brought a culture shift to Orlando by making a sustainable on-the-court product the premier goal. Through a four-team, 12-player trade that centered around Howard, the Magic were able to acquire blossoming young center Nikola Vucevic, dynamic rookie Maurice Harkless, well-rounded shooting guard Arron Afflalo as well as salary cap flexibility for the future. Hennigan added other pieces to the Magic’s core by selecting forward Andrew Nicholson and big man Kyle O’Quinn in the 2012 NBA Draft and by acquiring forward Tobias Harris and guard Doron Lamb in a deadline deal involving J.J. Redick. With the current foundation built around a wide array of young talent, the Magic have the flexibility to take a best-player-available approach to the 2013 NBA Draft. “We are looking for players who love basketball and who are committed to something that is greater than themselves,” Hennigan said. “We want guys who are disciplined, humble and hungry to improve.”
What Getting a Top 3 Pick Would Mean for the Magic
Although there may not be a clear-cut franchise-altering superstar in this year’s class, Orlando believes it can find a player that will not only aid in its long-term goal of creating sustainable success, but also bring added excitement to the fan base. The draft lottery odds suggest that the player should come in the Top 3. Even though Orlando finished with the worst record in the NBA, its chances of obtaining the first overall selection are only 25 percent. However, Orlando’s odds of securing a Top 3 selection are a favorable 64.3 percent. By rule, the furthest the Magic can fall is to the No. 4 spot, which has just a 35.7 percent chance of occurring.
Magic Lottery Luck
Who needs a rabbit’s foot or a four-leaf clover when you have Pat Williams? The Magic will be armed with plenty of luck when they head to the NBA Draft Lottery on May 21 as Senior Vice President Pat Williams will join team representatives in New York. Orlando has won the lottery three times (1992, 1993 and 2004), second to only the Los Angeles Clippers with five. Williams has been present at all three victories, including the historic 1993 draw, when the Magic defied overwhelming 66-to-1 odds (1.5 percent chance) and earned the opportunity to select No. 1 for the second straight season. Those back-to-back selections (Shaquille O’Neal and Chris Webber, who was traded on draft day for Penny Hardaway) allowed the Magic to build the foundation for the first Finals squad in franchise history. Orlando hopes it can catch lightning in a bottle once again.
Matt Rochinski, Bobcats.com
Pre-lottery slot: 2
Charlotte’s plan entered its next phase in the 2012-13 season with the selections of Michael Kidd-Gilchrist (No. 2 overall) and Jeffery Taylor (No. 31 overall), giving the Cats two gritty, young defenders who also have the capability to take it to the rack or knock down the open jumper. The improvement of 2012 draft picks Kemba Walker and Bismack Biyombo and the emergence of Gerald Henderson as a go-to player have given the Cats a solid young core. But with Henderson and Byron Mullens restricted free agents this offseason and Josh McRoberts an unrestricted free agent, there’s no question the Cats can improve at almost every position. For now, Charlotte’s greatest areas of need are to find a perimeter scorer and a big who can physically control the paint while giving the Cats a low-post scoring presence.
What Getting a Top 3 Pick Would Mean for the Bobcats
The Bobcats best chance of getting the No. 1 pick came last season when they entered the lottery with the greatest chance of winning. They didn’t and ended up with the No. 2 overall pick and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, who is a key piece to the Cats plan. Bobcats Chairman Michael Jordan, President of Basketball Operations Rod Higgins and General Manager Rich Cho remain committed to building the franchise through the draft. Charlotte has the second-best odds of landing the top pick, but any pick inside the Top 3 will be expected to step in and contribute as best they can. The Cats would like to find an impact player who will immediately fill one of the team’s needs either inside or out, but a Top 3 pick could also prove to be a valuable trade chip should the Cats management opt to use it that way.
Bobcats Lottery Luck
This will be the Bobcats ninth lottery appearance, and the ping-pong balls have yet to bounce their way. In fact, the only way Charlotte improved its position was in its expansion year in 2004 when it was given the No. 4 pick by the NBA and traded it to the Los Angeles Clippers to move up to No. 2 overall. Other than that, the Bobcats pick remained status quo in 2006, 2007, 2009 and 2011, but they fell back two spots to No. 5 in 2005 and one spot to No. 9 in 2008 and No. 2 in 2012. What does it all mean? Hopefully it is time for Charlotte’s luck to change.
Greg Esposito, Suns.com
Pre-lottery slot: 4
If you spent any time watching the Suns this season – and present company spent 82 evenings watching this team over the last nine months – it became abundantly clear what was missing. No, not wins, although those were missing this year too, but a go-to scorer who can come up big when the team offense stalled. The position that a go-to scorer plays is up for debate. The Suns are set at the point guard position. With Goran Dragic emerging as an All-Star-type point guard in the second half of the season and Kendall Marshall proving he has a propensity for pretty passes and double-digit assists when he gets the playing time, you won’t likely see a point guard with the team’s lottery pick. At the rest of the positions, there is room to grow. Which means you could see the Suns go anywhere across the board with their first pick.
What Getting a Top 3 Pick Would Mean for the Suns
Getting a top 3 pick would mean a lot to the Suns’ franchise and its fan base. It would mark the first time in over two decades that they wound up with a pick higher than No. 7 and could help add another piece to a growing young foundation for the future. As the league has proven time and time again, building through the draft is one of the best ways to assure success and that is precisely what new General Manager Ryan McDonough and the Suns’ front office is trying to do. Moving up in the lottery would go a long way to helping that process.
Suns Lottery Luck
Frank Sinatra sung “luck be a lady tonight” back in his heyday. On Tuesday, in his beloved New York City, Phoenix hopes she’s finally a Sun. Since the 1969 coin toss that cost the Suns the No. 1 pick and sent Lew Alcindor to the Milwaukee Bucks, a team with 11 more wins, the franchise hasn’t exactly been the epitome of lucky. Despite some rough breaks, the organization is coming prepared to the lottery with lucky charms and a large amount of hope for the future. Oh, and maybe even a little Sinatra on the iPod.
Jim Eichenhofer, Pelicans.com
Pre-lottery slot: 5
The most obvious area that could use a talent infusion is small forward, where 2012-13 starter Al-Farouq Aminu is one of New Orleans’ five unrestricted free agents and therefore not assured of returning. The other players who received minutes at the three spot for New Orleans in ’12-13 actually have even less NBA experience than the 22-year-old Aminu, a three-year pro. Based purely on ultra-early mock drafts, the consensus projected choice if the Pelicans remain in the No. 5 spot has been Michigan point guard Trey Burke, despite returning starter Greivis Vasquez finishing second in Most Improved Player voting. The team’s set of bigs appears to be in excellent shape long term, anchored by power forwards Anthony Davis and Ryan Anderson, along with efficient reserve center Jason Smith and Robin Lopez, who started all 82 games last season. The 2012 offseason yielded a nice bounty for New Orleans in the form of lottery prize Davis and outstanding acquisition Anderson. If the Pelicans manage to add a few more pieces to their talent base, they’ll be in much better position to achieve their stated goal of competing for a playoff berth in the rugged West.
What Getting a Top 3 Pick Would Mean for the Pelicans
Understandably, the excitement and anticipation locally for this year’s lottery has been relatively tepid compared to 2012, when a raucous celebration resulted from New Orleans landing the No. 1 pick. Still, jumping up into one of the top three spots would give the Pelicans considerably more options and leverage on draft night. Even if New Orleans merely remains in its current fifth slot following the lottery, the prospect of pairing another talented young player with the 20-year-old Davis is an exciting one.
Pelicans Lottery Luck
Several NBA franchises have legitimate reason to complain about their (mis)fortune in past draft lotteries. New Orleans isn’t one of them. In 2012, draft analysts said there was only one surefire, franchise-changing player available, but New Orleans won the right to select Davis at the lottery. Over the club’s 25-year history, it has only been a lottery participant roughly half the time, yet is one of seven NBA teams to prevail at least twice (forward Larry Johnson was the prize for winning in 1991). In addition, the team’s last two All-Star point guards (Baron Davis, Chris Paul) were the result of a fortuitous change in selection order at the draft lottery.
Keith Langlois, Pistons.com
Pre-lottery slot: 7
With a healthy chunk of cap space – likely $25 million with the potential to create more – at their disposal come July, the Pistons aren’t counting on the draft as much as a veteran infusion to vault them out of the 2014 lottery. They see Greg Monroe and Andre Drummond, 22 and 19, anchoring their frontcourt for the next decade-plus. Yet if the draft dictates they take another big man, they’d be open to that option, knowing they could address perimeter needs via free agency and the enhanced trade possibilities their cap space will make possible. This truly will be a “best player available” draft for the Pistons. If someone like Cody Zeller or Alex Len fits that description at their turn, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see them shaking David Stern’s hand wearing a Pistons cap. Jose Calderon and Will Bynum, who ended the season 1-2 on the depth chart at point guard, are both free agents and their returns are uncertain. So they could go for one of Trey Burke, Michael Carter-Williams or C.J. McCollum. They’d love greater scoring and athleticism at shooting guard or small forward, which perhaps could lead them to Ben McLemore, Otto Porter or Shabazz Muhammad. If there’s a market for trading the pick, their cap space makes that a more attractive option for the Pistons, as well.
What Getting a Top 3 Pick Would Mean for the Pistons
The emerging consensus is that Nerlens Noel and Ben McLemore, in some order, are the top two talents, though teams with a pressing need at point guard might have to consider national player of the year Trey Burke. Given the presence of Greg Monroe and Andre Drummond, would the Pistons spend the No. 1 or 2 pick on Noel, coming off an ACL reconstruction? If you buy the characterization of McLemore as a budding Ray Allen, you could hardly draw up a more ideal ingredient to add to the young mix that also includes Brandon Knight in Detroit. Safe to say it’s a year where teams that land a top-three pick won’t be immediately transformed.
Pistons Lottery Luck
In three straight trips to the lottery, the Pistons have stayed in their pre-lottery position (No. 7 in 2010, No. 9 in 2012) twice and moved down once (No. 7 to No. 8 in 2011). But both Greg Monroe and Andre Drummond would go much higher than seventh and ninth in any redraft and the Pistons remain high on Brandon Knight, still only 21. The Pistons have had only two top-three picks in lottery history and one of them, Darko Milicic in 2003, came via a pick acquired in trade. The Pistons took Grant Hill at No. 3 in 1994.
Jeremy Hyman, WashingtonWizards.com
Pre-lottery slot: 8
When giving their exit interviews, many of the Wizards players expressed their sentiments for the team to add another wing or a “stretch 4” to the roster. Last off-season, the Wizards added both Martell Webster and Trevor Ariza to the roster to help at the forward spot. Webster had a career-year and Ariza gave them valuable minutes playing both the 3 and the 4, yet they still could use another versatile forward who could help stretch the floor. As many teams are using smaller lineups with power forwards who can shoot from the perimeter, the Wizards will likely look for another addition at this position to give them more depth on the front line. They also may look to add another banger on the front line as insurance to Nene. They have lost Nene to various injuries over his first year plus playing with the team and could look to add another post presence to help share the load with the big Brazilian. The team may also look to add depth in the backcourt and could look to add a combo guard to play behind John Wall and Bradley Beal. After trading Jordan Crawford, it opened up a spot for a scoring guard to come off the bench. If the best player available in the draft were to be a guard, they could go this route to add some punch to the bench.
What Getting a Top 3 Pick Would Mean for the Wizards
Adding a top 3 pick would be beneficial for the Wizards as it would for any team and would be their third top 3 pick in the last four years. In 2010, they added John Wall at No. 1 and last year they added Bradley Beal at No. 3. If they could manage to land in the top 3 again, they could add another key piece to help resurrect the franchise and bring them back to the postseason.
Wizards Lottery Luck
The Wizards have found themselves in the lottery in each of the past five years and were lucky enough to win the sweepstakes in 2010 which landed them John Wall. Last season, they had the second-best chance to win the lottery again but ended up falling one spot to No. 3. This year, the team has a 3.5 percent chance to win the lottery and a 12.3 percent chance to end up in the top three. If luck is on their side, the Wizards could add another franchise player to the roster in 2013.
Jay Satur, Raptors.com
Pre-lottery slot: 12
It was a roller coaster 2012-13 season for the Raptors (34-48) that was disappointing overall but ended on a high with seven wins in their last eight games. Kyle Lowry, DeMar DeRozan, Rudy Gay, Amir Johnson and Jonas Valanciunas started together for most of that stretch and were starting to show signs of real cohesion. That group could remain intact this fall, shifting the focus to the team’s bench. Point guard depth, a wing player that can defend and knock down 3-pointers consistently and a veteran big man that can contribute key minutes would all address needs.
What Getting a Top 3 Pick Would Mean for the Raptors
It’s feast or famine for the Raptors at the lottery this year. If they jump into the top 3, it means a significant asset for a team with an expectation to make the playoffs in 2013-14. But if the Raptors stay 12th or wind up lower, the pick goes to Oklahoma City via Houston as part of the Lowry trade last summer.
Raptors Lottery Luck
The Raptors need a lot of luck to retain their first-round pick this season. Historically, they have moved up only moved up twice. The Raptors have also dropped in the lottery five times, but the results haven’t been all bad. In 1998, a drop from a projected second pick to fourth allowed them to grab Vince Carter in a draft day swap with the Warriors. A drop from third to fifth in 2011 allowed them to grab Valanciunas, named to the NBA All-Rookie Second Team earlier this week. Last season, the team remained in their projected eighth spot after the lottery and selected guard Terrence Ross.
Earl K. Sneed, Mavs.com
Pre-lottery slot: 14
This is not a position the Dallas Mavericks are accustomed to being in – in fact it’s been 13 years since the Mavericks last drafted in the NBA lottery. Starting the 2012-13 season with 11-time All-Star Dirk Nowitzki on the mend for the first 27 games after preseason arthroscopic knee surgery, the Mavs would struggle through the ups-and-downs of the grueling schedule before breaking even with a 41-41 record. Now, the team will try to surround a healthy Nowitzki with enough talent to return the Mavs to the postseason after seeing their 12-year stretch of consecutive playoff appearances fall by the wayside. Adding a top-tier point guard or a shot-blocking big man figures to be the Mavericks’ priorities this offseason, and if they swing and miss this summer in free agency, doing so through the draft would be a nice backup plan. “My guess is we’ll be as aggressive, if not more so, than we’ve ever been,” GM Donnie Nelson said. “Whether that’s us drafting, acquiring, free agency or trade, we will turn over every rock. Believe me.”
What Getting a Top 3 Pick Would Mean for the Mavericks
If the Mavs are to strike it rich in the lottery and move up from the bottom portion into the top 3, they will have an opportunity to immediately add a Day 1 contributor capable of stepping into coach Rick Carlisle’s rotation. Last season, Carlisle used second-round acquisitions Bernard James and Jae Crowder perhaps more than he expected while first-rounder Jared Cunningham struggled to make a dent in the backcourt rotation. And with those three rookies the lone players under contract besides Nowitzki, Vince Carter and Shawn Marion, the Mavs will certainly count it a blessing if the ping-pong balls bounce in their favor.
Mavericks Lottery Luck
Again, the Mavericks haven’t been in this position since the 1999-2000 season, when they eventually selected Etan Thomas with the 12th overall pick. The team hasn’t picked highly in the top 10 since the ’98 draft, when Robert “Tractor” Traylor was taken with the sixth overall selection before being dealt to Milwaukee in exchange for Nowitzki. We all know how that worked out. So, if by chance the basketball gods are once again on the Mavs’ side come draft day, it all comes down to a bit of fortune in the lottery. However, with a miniscule percentage of moving ahead of most teams in the lottery, MFFLs (Mavs fans for life) are not holding their breaths.