The NBA draft lottery took place on Tuesday night in Chicago, preceding Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals between the Golden State Warriors and Portland Trail Blazers. The teams in the lottery are hoping to be where Portland and Golden State are in a few years, and that may be thanks to players they’re able to draft this year.
So what did the draft lottery tell us? What have we learned from it? Here are the biggest takeaways from the lottery order.
1. New Orleans Pelicans’ rebuild just changed significantly
The Pelicans’ surprising lottery win changes the entire outlook of their rebuild. They will now have the opportunity to land Zion Williamson, a once-in-a-generation player. That opens up a whole lot of questions. Will Anthony Davis, who has wanted out, change his mind and form a dynamic duo with Williamson?
David Griffin has hinted that he’d be happy to build around Davis. You can bet that the Pelicans will go back to him and point to this pick to suggest that they may be able to turn things around and build him a contender quickly.
2. Flailing Los Angeles Lakers got a huge gift
This has not been a great week publicly for the Los Angeles Lakers. Their coaching hire was a chaotic mess, and the front office looks messy a month after Magic Johnson’s departure. Getting the fourth pick will at least give them reason for optimism going forward. No, they won’t get one of the big three players in the draft, but they now have the chance to get the best player outside of that bracket — or dangle the pick in front of the New Orleans Pelicans if Anthony Davis still wants out.
3. Boston Celtics may be big losers
The Celtics were expected to be huge contenders in the Anthony Davis trade pursuit, but the lottery did them no favors. First off, the Pelicans won the top pick and could draft Zion Williamson, which may convince Davis to remain in New Orleans. If Davis still wants out, the Celtics’ competition to acquire him increases. The Lakers and Knicks, two teams known to have trade interest in him, now have additional desirable assets to dangle in front of David Griffin. The Lakers can offer the No. 4 pick in addition to some players, while the Knicks can offer the No. 3 pick.
Not all went poorly for Boston though. The Celtics were hoping that their draft pick from the Grizzlies would not convey this year, and it did not.
4. Knicks will get a good player but will feel disappointed
The third pick is actually a win for the Knicks in terms of the odds, but will feel like a disappointment after a miserable season. The thought of Zion Williamson in a Knicks uniform was tantalizing for all sorts of reasons. They don’t have the ammunition to trade up for the first pick, and will likely have to stay put at No. 3. That’s not bad, and Cam Reddish, who may well be on the board, is said to be a player they like — but he’s not Williamson. That will feel like a letdown, especially after it became clear they’d be picking in the top four.
5. Memphis Grizzlies can usher in a new era at point guard
Mike Conley Jr has been the Memphis Grizzlies’ point guard since the 2007 draft. He’s spent 12 seasons with the franchise, guiding them through years of success in the “Grit and Grind” teams. But the team is rebuilding and shopped him in trade talks before the deadline this year. Though he remained with the team, that could change. Memphis could take Ja Morant with the No. 2 pick, which would give them their point guard of the future. They might want to revisit trade talks for Conley now and see whether another Western Conference team is still interested.
6. David Griffin remains the best good-luck draft lottery charm
David Griffin has to be the best good-luck charm in the draft lottery we’ve seen. Whether he’s with the Cavaliers as their GM or now the Pelicans as an executive, he seems to always snag the top overall pick.
This is ridiculous: the team that has employed David Griffin has won the No. 1 pick 4 of the past 5 times it’s been in the draft lottery. Cavs with Kyrie (2011), Bennett (2013) & Wiggins (2014). Now Pelicans with Zion. Only other team to win in those years? NOP with AD (2012)
— Michael Lee (@MrMichaelLee) May 15, 2019
He is now ensured Zion Williamson if he wants him. The question is will he be able to convince Davis to stay too?