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Ramifications of the Lottery: How will the Draft shake out?

By Jonathan Givony, for NBA.com
Posted May 20 2009 8:54AM

SECAUCUS, N.J. -- The ping-pong balls have bounced and the lottery teams are looking to draft the next great NBA player. DraftExpress.com takes a look at the lottery teams and who could be going where.

No. 1: Los Angeles Clippers

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How they got here: The Clippers had the fourth-worst record this season and only a 17.7 percent chance of landing the top pick, but nevertheless managed to secure the top overall selection, which should serve as a huge shot in the arm for their disenchanted fanbase.

Who they will take: Although they may momentarily entertain the thought of selecting Ricky Rubio and then trading Baron Davis, Blake Griffin is clearly the obvious choice here. He represents everything the team is currently missing in terms of energy, intensity, passion and character, and should be able to help brings the Clippers back to playoff contention almost immediately.

No. 2: Memphis Grizzlies

How they got here: The Grizzlies had the fifth-worst record and only an 8.33 percent chance of landing the No. 2 pick. Although they obviously would have preferred to move up just one more spot, they have a chance to add a major building block to their already solid core of prospects.

Who they will take: The draft really starts here, as opinions are clearly split on what the Grizzlies should or will do. Ironically, there doesn't appear to be an ideal option at this spot just yet. Many think they will take Ricky Rubio, which will signify the end to the Mike Conley era, and with that confession that they may have wasted the No. 4 pick just two years ago. Others are certain that Hasheem Thabeet is the pick here, as he's exactly the inside presence they've been lacking, despite his seemingly poor fit with Marc Gasol. Truth be told, the Grizzlies will likely go back and forth on what to do here, and may not make up their minds until they are actually on the clock.

No. 3: Oklahoma City Thunder

How they got here: The Thunder moved up a single spot from No. 4, which is bound to please their front office and fan base. They're likely just happy not to have slipped.

Who they will take: Oklahoma City's choice seems relatively simple if Memphis decides to take Ricky Rubio at No. 2. They've been searching for a dominant defensive big man for years now, and wasted multiple top-10 picks in their search efforts back before this new front office was put in place. Their trade at the deadline for Tyson Chandler indicates that this continues to be a priority, so look for them to take Hasheem Thabeet if he's indeed on the board here. If not, they will likely go for value and take Rubio, despite the fact that he may not be the greatest fit alongside Russell Westbrook. James Harden may be able to change their mind with a fantastic workout.

No. 4: Sacramento Kings

How they got here: The worst-case scenario came true in this case, as the Kings beat the odds and managed to fall all the way to No. 4. This is a huge setback for a team that is already reeling on all fronts, suffering through a painful 17-65 season while its owners slowly hemorrhage money from all directions.

Who they will take: Although they are widely viewed as the next two best prospects, neither Jordan Hill nor Harden appears to be very attractive options from a positional standpoint. Considering the Kings' glaring need for a point guard, Brandon Jennings looks like a pretty decent fit here, although their first priority will obviously be to find a coach. Until they do that, it's very difficult to make big changes to the roster, since a lot will depend on the style of play they want to implement and the new coach's thoughts on what they already have on the team. This pick could very well be moved, possibly as a way to unload some of their bad contracts.

No. 5: Washington Wizards

How they got here: Just like Sacramento, the Wizards came out of this lottery as poorly as they possibly could have, having slipped three spots from No. 2 to No.5.

Who they will take: The Wizards seemed to have their hearts set on trading the pick, but it's not quite clear what kind of value will be offered to them since there appears to be little difference between drafting fifth and drafting ninth for example. Hill appears to be the most attractive option if he's indeed on the board, as he's one of the few big men in this draft with NBA size, athleticism and rebounding ability. Harden could also be a decent consolation prize.

No. 6: Minnesota Timberwolves

How they got here: Minnesota slipped one spot from No. 5 to No. 6 when Memphis was fortunate enough to draw a top-three pick.

Who they will take: If Jennings is off the board, they likely move on to the best point guard available, possibly Tyreke Evans or Stephen Curry. Either one could be a decent compliment to Randy Foye, but the best-case scenario would probably be Harden, since he has the size to defend shooting guards, but can help shoulder a good amount of the playmaking duties, which in turn will free up Foye to do what he does best -- which is score.

No. 7: Golden State Warriors

Who they will take: Don Nelson and his good friend Larry Riley will likely have plenty of conversations in the next few weeks about how to find a player who best fits the Warriors' system and existing roster. Curry would be another unbelievable scoring weapon who would likely thrive in Nellie's up-tempo, freestyling offense, but a big point guard who can defend multiple positions like Evans may be a better compliment to Monta Ellis.

No. 8: New York Knicks

Who they will take: Mike D'Antoni is still looking for a lead guard to help make his seven-seconds-or-less offense go, and there isn't a more ideal fit here than Curry, who would likely rack up huge stats in this system.

No. 9: Toronto Raptors

Who they will take: The Raptors lack athleticism on the wing and a shot-creating presence, and DeMar Derozan is clearly the most physically gifted player left on the board. He also possesses quite a bit of potential to continue to improve, but if the Raptors are as serious as they say they are about changing their team culture and getting tougher defensively, they will need to make sure that he indeed has the kind of intangibles they're looking for.

No. 10: Milwaukee Bucks

Who they will take: The Bucks desperately need to get tougher along their frontline, and with Charlie Villanueva looking fairly likely to bolt in free agency, DeJuan Blair may be the best player to replace him. He'll fit right into what Scott Skiles is looking for from a mentality standpoint immediately.

No. 11: New Jersey Nets

Who they will take: The Nets would like to get an ultra-tough big man, but with very little quality size available at this point in the draft, they may look to take a pass-first point guard like Ty Lawson who can play alongside Devin Harris and let him be more of a scorer.

No. 12: Charlotte Bobcats

Who they will take: The Bobcats are extremely shallow on the wing, and Gerald Henderson fits a need from a defensive and athletic standpoint from Larry Brown's perspective, and would help draw in local Duke fans.

No. 13: Indiana Pacers

Who they will take: The Pacers don't seem very set on any of their playmakers, and with the depth of this year's point-guard crop, a player like Jonny Flynn could have value here.

No. 14: Phoenix Suns

Who they will take: The Suns will be looking to draft the best available player regardless of position, and Earl Clark could very well have been a top-10 pick based on his upside.

Jonathan Givony is President and Director of Scouting of Draft Express. The opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the writer.

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