NBA Draft Lottery Winners, Losers, Hot-Takes and Trade Scenarios
The confetti has been swept up but the New Orleans Pelicans continue to relish over their lucky draw at the No. 1 overall pick, thus signifying their opportunity at getting Zion Williamson come draft night.
Beyond just the No. 1 draft pick, there were tons of winners and losers of the draft. Let’s break it down:
Winner: Grind City
Memphis had just a 6.0 percent chance at landing Zion Williamson at No. 1, but their 19 percent chance at getting a top-three pick was just enough to get them the second overall pick. Now it becomes decision time for the Grizzlies—Ja Morrant or RJ Barrett? Morrant is clearly the better prospect at the point guard spot, but would likely involve trading Mike Conley, which Memphis tried to do this year. Barrett is the risky pick but you could make the argument that he is the better fit. It's a definite win-win scenario for the Grizzlies.
Loser: Atlanta Hawks
The Hawks received a lot of criticism last year after trading away their draft pick for Trae Young to the Mavs for Luka Doncic. By the middle of the season, it seemed apparent that both teams equally won this trade. The only thing left would be if the Hawks could somehow get into the top five of the NBA draft this year using their draft pick owed by the Mavs. So while the Hawks still have two picks in the top 10 (No. 8 & 10), the drop off after the fourth overall pick is pretty remarkable in this draft class. The Hawks will have to be strategic in these picks and really supplement some talent that they need desperately. I like these picks to be possibly grabbing Romeo Langford from Indiana or Bol Bol out of Oregon. Maybe Darius Garland from Vanderbilt or Jaxon Hayes from Texas would work here too.
Winner: New York Knicks
All the New York Knicks fas I know, including Steve, were sending their good juju over to the NBA lottery and hoped that they could get a chance at a top three pick. No. 3 for the Knicks might not be the sexiest pick overall, but it still allows a lot of room opportunities in this year's draft. The clear consensus pick would be to draft either RJ Barrett or Ja Morrant, whomever the Grizzlies don’t pick at No. 2. New York would use Barrett or Morrant as a centerpiece addition next season. Their next step is to go all in on free agency and target marquee free agents, like Kevin Durant or Kyrie Irving.
Loser: Anthony Davis
Almost everyone wrote off the pelicans being a viable spot for Zion Williamson, especially with only a 6.0 percent chance at snagging the number one spot. Most thought in this case that Anthony Davis would probably be dealt before the draft due to fear by the Pelicans front office.
Now the Pelicans have leverage over every team with the No. 1 pick. Davis, while gaining this constant leverage throughout the season in "pre-free agency," now could be held onto a lot longer. The Pelicans and David Griffin can be extremely patient, field offers from other teams and even decide to keep Davis alongside Zion. Is there a situation or a scenario where Davis stays? Probably not.
Zion will be the king of New Orleans and Davis will headline a large trade package. The stakes for Anthony Davis are getting higher and higher and the return looks like it’ll be the happiest that the pelicans could’ve wished for.
Winner: LeBron James
What an awful off-season it’s been for the Los Angeles Lakers, but landing it within the top five is Magic. No, I’m not talking about Magic Johnson, who abruptly left the organization before the season's end. This is pure magic that could only happen to the Lakers who had a two percent chance at getting Zion Williamson. A number four pick gives a small glimmer of hope for the Lakers' offseason, to which LeBron James took to social media and expressed his content.
This makes it really interesting for the Lakers offseason if they decide to keep the pick, draft a rising prospect in the top five, or even deal the pick to someone else for a hefty trade package (Anthony Davis?) That’s not to say that this upcoming season won’t be filled with a lot of doubt for the Lakers, but this is a starting spot for the team and James' legacy.
Loser: Devin Booker
The Suns' young star Devin Booker has been long awaiting a co-superstar to join the franchise and help salvage the dumpster fire organization that is the Phoenix Suns. He has said time and time about his discontent with the team missing the playoffs year after year and the instability within the front office.
What is Booker supposed to think about getting outside of a top-five pick? There’s no attraction to Phoenix to land any talent in free agency and the building blocks of hope seem to be more of a Jenga set ready to crumble down. Could this be the season where we see Booker demand a trade?
Winner (and loser?): Boston Celtics
There’s no doubt about it now. The Boston Celtics have the number one trade package for Anthony Davis and it all rests on Kyrie Irving. If he decides to stay, Danny Ainge could likely trade everything that Boston has—and more—for Anthony Davis. But if Kyrie is unwilling to provide any sort of stability or leave, then there’s no reason to trade for Anthony Davis.
If Boston moves on from Kyrie and from the possibilities of getting Anthony Davis, they could build on their young nucleus and lock down some of their young stars. If Kyrie does stay, there is a possibility to see a superstar duo in Davis and Kyrie set at Boston.