NBA Draft Lottery Preview
With the 2008 NBA Draft Lottery coming up Tuesday at 8:30 p.m. ET on ESPN, some participating teams weighed in on four lottery-related questions about their respective squads. Check out what each team thinks about its needs, what would happen is it finished in the top three of the lottery, whether luck has been on its side before and who will represent them at the event.
Mike Trudell, Timberwolves.com
Team needs: Hornets.com writer Jim Eichenhofer (who organized this NBA Draft lottery preview) has agreed to trade Chris Paul and Tyson Chandler to the Wolves for my laptop, two dancers and cash considerations. Thus, we’ll roll out CP3, Randy Foye, Ryan Gomes, Al Jefferson and Tyson Chandler next year and make the playoffs. Now, if that deal falls through (not likely)? ... Minnesota is still building, and should probably take the best available player and subsequently figure out how he fits in. Of course, the caveat here is that Jefferson’s status as untouchable franchise foundation means the newest Wolf must fit in well with Big Al’s game. Still, the good news is, the furthest our favorite team can fall is No. 6, and there are definitely six players available that can help in myriad ways. We could also use a (free, unlimited) Mountain Dew dispenser near my cubicle.
If the Timberwolves finish in the top three… At one and two last year it was Oden and Durant, and this year Beasley and Rose. No matter what one thinks independently, the Chomolungma (Mt. Everest in Nepalese) of media and popular vice that would overwhelm an organization for taking anyone else at No. 1 or No. 2 would be absurd. So let’s not waste space towards that end. Of course, the higher you go the better you feel, but at least in terms of public perception, it’s “Beasley,” “Rose” or “Who Cares.” Indeed, I’m not sure how important it is to get the third pick, (vs. Nos. 4, 5 or 6) because there’s certainly no consensus as to who goes where. Mayo? Lopez? Bayless? Augustin? Gallinari? But any one of those guys could end up being just as good as the top two.
Lottery luck: Since the Wolves have never had any luck in terms of moving up in the lottery (literally), I’ve personally employed various people that were lucky enough to be born with special gifts: Giselle (beauty); Yao Ming (height); Adrian Peterson (power); Adrian Peterson (speed); Kevin Harlan (voice); Sasha Baron Cohen (humor); Bill Gates (brains); and Barak Obama (charisma). All have agreed to represent Minnesota in spirit; their loyalty was obtained much cheaper than were Chris Paul and Tyson Chandler. So, needless to say, we’re feeling good about our chances.
Representing the Timberwolves at the lottery: I was once again rebuffed when suggesting that we send mascot Crunch, because it’s not like the representative needs to talk ... Right? Who’s with me on that? Especially if he were sitting next to a really uptight GM or second-year player. That would be solid TV. Alas, the Wolves are sending Fred Hoiberg (The Mayor) for reasons that should be self-explanatory.
Graham Kendrick, Grizzlies.com
Team needs: Let’s just put it this way: the Grizzlies’ leading rebounder last season was shooting guard Mike Miller. With a stable of young point guards and numerous wing players, the most glaring need is up front, where the Grizzlies could use someone who can create space in the paint and pull down rebounds. That said, Grizzlies GM and VP of Basketball Operations Chris Wallace is on record as saying he believes in throwing the roster out the window on draft day and taking the best player available. Team needs will be secondary on draft day to taking the player he and the staff believe will have the best NBA career in the long run.
If the Grizzlies finish in the top three… It will be sweet redemption after last year’s bitter disappointment (more on that later). After losing a coin flip with Minnesota, with whom the Grizzlies finished with identical 22-60 records, Memphis currently occupies the fourth spot as far as the odds go, so it’s not a stretch to see the team getting some lottery luck and moving up a couple of spots. Jumping into the top three would be welcome news for a team that has finished 22-60 in two straight seasons. Adding another elite young player to this team will give the Grizzlies one of the best collections of young talent in the league.
Lottery luck: Yeah, not so good. Last year the Grizzlies went into the lottery with the best odds at the top pick and excitement in Memphis was at a fever pitch. So it was a real kick in the teeth when the Grizzlies dropped to fourth, the furthest they could possibly fall. Furthermore, it was five years ago that the Grizzlies suffered maybe the worst lottery loss of all-time: they had to finish with the number one pick, or relinquish it to Detroit to complete a 1997 trade. After 11 envelopes had been opened, it was down to Cleveland and Memphis for the top pick, and the right to draft LeBron James. Of course, the Cavs got it and the Grizzlies had to relinquish the second overall pick. So Memphis fans don’t have many fond lottery memories.
Representing the Grizzlies at the lottery: Grizzlies forward Rudy Gay will be on stage for the Grizzlies. It’s not necessarily that he’s a lucky charm, but with Pau Gasol in Los Angeles, Gay is the face of the franchise, and being on stage at the lottery is a chance for him to get national exposure.
Matt Rochinski, Bobcats.com
Team needs: Last year the Bobcats entered the draft in need of a closer, and Managing Member of Basketball Operations Michael Jordan and General Manager Rod Higgins found exactly what they were looking for in a draft day trade that brought guard Jason Richardson to Charlotte. With new Head Coach Larry Brown at the helm, could we see more movement by the Bobcats on draft day? On a team loaded with wings, Charlotte would like to find more help inside for Emeka Okafor. Aside from Nazr Mohammed, the Bobcats are young and inexperienced up front. Unless there is a guard available they simply can’t pass up, look for Charlotte to go big on June 26 – that is unless they make a move to bring in another proven veteran.
If the Bobcats finish in the top three… Investigations would probably begin in Minnesota, Seattle and Miami – depending on how the selections play out – to see how a team with a 2.8 percent chance of landing the top pick moved into the top three. However, there would be much joy in Charlotte. Much like last season, the top two spots are the most coveted, and while I won’t be the one making the pick, I imagine it would be nearly impossible to pass on forward Michael Beasley or guard Derrick Rose. Either one could step into the rotation almost instantly and make an impact for the Bobcats in one of their greatest areas of need. It’s a crapshoot at No. 3, with a handful of players having the chance to be selected there.
Lottery luck: Not only have the Bobcats never won the draft lottery, they haven’t even moved up from where they were slotted entering the lottery. Charlotte fell from third to fifth in 2005 and stood pat at No. 3 and No.8 in 2006 and 2007, respectively. Factor in that no team entering with the eighth-most chances has ever won the lottery and that only one team seeded higher than sixth – the Los Angeles Clippers were seventh in 2000 – has secured the top spot in the last 14 years, and the Bobcats probably shouldn’t be holding their breath on this one. But stranger things have happened. Just ask the Blazers if they expected to land Greg Oden last year.
Representing the Bobcats at the lottery: The Bobcats will have their fourth representative in the past four years in Secaucus. This time it will be General Manager Rod Higgins hoping to pull off the upset from the eighth slot. President & Chief Operating Officer Fred Whitfield represented Charlotte last year, Gerald Wallace went in 2006 and Bernie Bickerstaff was there in 2005.
Adam Fluck, Bulls.com
Team needs: Given a few significant unknowns – who will take over head coaching duties and what players may or may not be back in Chicago next year – and coupled with a Bulls season that fell short of expectations, there likely is not one specific need that general manager John Paxson is looking to address on June 26. If the Bulls select ninth, and there’s an 81.34 percent chance that will happen, it could end up being a matter of drafting the best player on the board rather than filling a specific position.
If the Bulls finish in the top three… They’ll hope it’s one of the first two picks. As was the case last year with Greg Oden and Kevin Durant, there is a strong consensus on who will not be on the board by the time team No. 3 is ready to select: Kansas State forward Michael Beasley and Memphis point guard Derrick Rose. Beasley had a Durant-like freshman season for the Wildcats and was initially thought to be a lock to go No. 1. That was until Rose made a strong case to be the top pick by leading the Tigers to the Final Four. Either player would be an enormous asset for the Bulls as they embark on a potentially busy offseason.
Lottery luck: The Bulls have won the NBA Draft Lottery once (1999) and landed among the top three selections three times in the last six years (second in 2002, third in 2004, and second in 2006). Many of those years, however, they were supposed to claim one of the top picks. This year, on the other hand, there’s only a 6.1 percent chance Chicago will land among the coveted top three positions on the draft board. In other words, luck will definitely be a factor if the Bulls are going to move up. But there’s hope – the top three seeds all fell out of the top three (Portland moved from sixth to first with only a 6.3 percent chance) last year.
Representing the Bulls at the lottery: For the second year in a row, Chicago will be represented in Secaucus by Executive Vice President of Business Operations Steve Schanwald. Should he bring home the ninth pick, rest assured, a great player can still be had. Over the years, Amaré Stoudemire, Shawn Marion, Dirk Nowitzki and Tracy McGrady were all taken with the draft’s ninth selection.
Conrad Brunner, Pacers.com
Team needs: With Jamaal Tinsley’s days as the starting point guard apparently numbered after another injury plagued season, the Pacers are on the lookout for their point guard of the future – not to mention present. Should no options present themselves, they also are in need of a strong defensive presence inside, with the ability to protect the paint and the rim high on the priority list. Whichever direction they go, the Pacers want a player with strong mental and physical toughness.
If the Pacers finish in the top three… Should they wind up No. 1 overall (an 0.8 percent chance), the most obvious option would be Memphis point guard Derrick Rose, who came on strong in the NCAA Tournament, but don’t discount the possibility they’d go with Kansas State power forward Michael Beasley, who may have more potential for true NBA greatness. At No. 2 (an 0.9 percent chance), they’d gladly take either Rose or Beasley. Things get a little cloudier at No. 3 (a 1.2 percent chance), but the most likely options appear to be Stanford center Brook Lopez or USC guard O.J. Mayo.
Lottery luck: Though they participated in the lottery last year, the Pacers needed to pull one of the top three picks to avoid losing their first-round selection to Atlanta to complete the 2006 trade for Al Harrington. They wound up at No. 11 and the pick went to the Hawks. Indiana’s last actual lottery pick was Austin Croshere at No. 12 overall in 1997. They’ve never pulled the top pick from the lottery but have finished at No. 2 twice, taking Rik Smits (behind Danny Manning) in 1988 and Wayman Tisdale (behind Patrick Ewing) in 1985.
Representing the Pacers at the lottery: This representing the first lottery pick of Larry Bird’s tenure as the sole leader of the team’s basketball operations, Bird will make the trip to Secaucus for the second year in a row. He was a first-year head coach in 1997 when Croshere was selected but did not attend the lottery. Bird will be joined by David Benner, the Director of Public Information, who will be the team's observer for the behind-closed-doors lottery draw.
Andrew Nicholson, Kings.com
Team needs: It’s unlikely the Kings will know the status of their free-agent starting point guard, Beno Udrih, before the draft. Regardless of his decision to re-sign or test the open market, the team could be looking for help at the point to help stimulate ball movement, where the team ranked second to last in the league. On the other hand, Sacramento could draft an active and athletic defensive-minded post player that can help them in the paint, where the team ranked 29th in rebounding. As every NBA general manager must decide, it will take Kings President of Basketball Operations Geoff Petrie all the way up to draft day to decide whether to take a player based on need or based on availability.
If the Kings finish in the top three… Like last year’s draft, this year’s lottery is loaded with dynamic prospects. Without question, a top-three, or even better, top two-selection seems to be ideal. However, should the team land as low as 14 (though 12 is most likely), the team is confident that a top-rate player will be available. If the Kings win the talent-rich Lottery for the first time in nearly 20 years, it would be a fair bet that the team’s LUCKIEST season ticket holder would become the honorary mayor of the River City and make national news. All the while, Petrie, who said the season ticket Holder had to do all the “heavy lifting,” would smile from now until June 26 as he and his staff debated the finer points of who to take number one overall.
Lottery luck: Since moving to Sacramento prior to the 1985-86 season, the Kings have claimed just two top-three draft choices. In 1989, Pervis Ellison became the only Kings player drafted first overall, though 30 years earlier, as the Rochester Royals, the franchise won the top pick (Bob Boozer) as it had done in its first-ever draft in 1957 (Rod Hundley). In 1991, the Kings drafted Billy Owens with the third pick, thus beginning the 17 years since the Kings have garnered a top-three selection. From the time when two-time NBA Executive of the Year, Petrie, arrived in Sacramento, the team has been successful in the draft without landing a top-three selection as names like Peja Stojakovic, Gerald Wallace and Kevin Martin come to mind.
Representing the Kings at the lottery: The Kings’ lottery representative is an exciting and historical one this year. A Kings season ticket holder “since Day 1,” Margie Parilo won the Kings LUCKIEST season ticket holder contest by beating out hundreds of Kings fans vying for the opportunity to become the first-ever season ticket holder representative at the NBA Lottery. She will be accompanied by her family and Kings co-owner Joe Maloof, as well as Kings limited partner John Kehriotis.