NBA Draft Promises and Guarantees

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By Ryan Feldman
rfeldman@thehoopsreport.com

Sunday, June 20, 2010

The 2010 NBA Draft Lottery will be held Tuesday night. In preparation for the event, here's an abbreviated description of how things work.

Fourteen ping-pong balls are placed into a chamber and mixed around. To determine the draft order, four balls are drawn from the chamber. With those 14 balls, that allows for a possible 1001 four-number combinations. The 14 lottery teams, depending on their record, have a certain number of combinations assigned to their squad. The worse the regular-season record, the more combinations the team has. In total, 1000 combinations are assigned to the 14 lottery teams. If the 1001st combination is drawn, the balls are reinserted and four new ones are drawn. Combinations are drawn for the first, second, and third picks of the draft. Picks 4 through 14 are assigned to the remaining teams in reverse order of their records. For the 2010 lottery, here's the breakdown for how the combinations will be distributed:

1. New Jersey Nets (12-70): 250 combinations, 25% chance of getting the No. 1 pick
2. Minnesota Timberwolves (15-67): 199 combinations, 19.9% chance
3. Sacramento Kings (25-57): 156 combinations, 15.6% chance
4. Golden State Warriors (26-56)*: 104 combinations, 10.4% chance
5. Washington Wizards (26-56)*: 103 combinations, 10.3% chance
6. Philadelphia 76ers (27-55)*: 53 combinations, 5.3% chance
7. Detroit Pistons (27-55)*: 53 combinations, 5.3% chance
8. Los Angeles Clippers (29-53)*: 23 combinations, 2.3% chance
9. Utah Jazz (from New York Knicks) (29-53)*: 22 combinations, 2.2% chance
10. Indiana Pacers (32-50): 11 combinations, 1.1% chance
11. New Orleans Hornets (37-45): 8 combinations, 0.8% chance
12. Memphis Grizzlies (40-42)*: 7 combinations, 0.7% chance
13. Toronto Raptors (40-42)*: 6 combinations, 0.6% chance
14. Houston Rockets (42-40): 5 combinations, 0.5% chance

*In the event of a tie, the two involved teams split evenly the sum of the combinations between their two spots.

The lottery is always a fun event. Because it establishes the order for the forthcoming draft, one could argue that the lottery is more suspenseful than the NBA Draft itself. In years with consensus No. 1 picks, much anticipation often accompanies the announcement of the draft order. Furthermore, it serves as an exhibition for some teams' key figures. Each franchise sends a representative to the podium in Secaucus, N.J., to "accept" his team's position in the draft. In some cases, organizations think a certain figure will serve as a lucky charm in the lottery. In other cases, it is an opportunity for team officials who typically work behind the scenes to garner some exposure. For example, the Nets will send incoming owner Mikhail Prokhorov in his first public appearance since being approved, to represent the team Tuesday night.

With all that said, once the lottery passes, the teams start planning for the draft in earnest with the newfound knowledge of where they will be picking. Different teams have their different strategies in the draft. Many teams, in fact, state that their philosophy is to draft the best talent left on the board regardless of need or whether the player is a good fit. For the sake of the following list, however, assume that teams will be drafting to fill a need on the roster rather than to select the best overall prospect.

The lists are a ranking of the top five choices that each team would select based on gaps in their rosters. If a team's first listed option is not John Wall or Evan Turner, it does not necessarily mean that the team will choose to select someone else if rewarded with the first or second overall pick. Instead, it reflects a possible interest for the team to deal that pick and trade down to acquire an asset and then draft the player that fills a bigger need. The list will go from the best lottery chances to the worst.


NEW JERSEY NETS

1. John Wall
2. Evan Turner
3. Derrick Favors
4. Wesley Johnson
5. Greg Monroe

There are a lot of new things happening for the Nets before next season. They have already welcomed in their new owner, they they will begin a brief two-year stay at The Rock in Newark before hopefully making the move to Brooklyn in 2012, they still have to name a new coach, and they figure to be significant players in free agency this summer with somewhere between $27 million and $30 million in cap space depending on team and player options. Accordingly, the Nets will be looking to make a major splash in the draft to go alongside these majors changes. As a result, their thinking is to draft Wall if they come away with the No. 1 pick. Devin Harris was an all-star last year, and he is very talented, but the Nets see Wall as someone who can be a superstar in the league and can improve to heights unfathomable by Harris. After Wall comes Turner, who fills a notable need at small forward, so long as a certain player does not hop aboard from Cleveland. Their next best option at that position would be Johnson, who has a rare combination of scoring and rebounding ability (two of the Nets' weak points a season ago) for a small forward. The Nets, too, have a need at power forward, where Yi Jianlian is not doing the job. Favors has drawn comparisons to Amar'e Stoudemire (one of New Jersey's top free-agent targets this summer), and his potential is limitless. If it weren't for a bad Georgia Tech team, he would possibly supplant Turner as the No. 2 pick. After Favors, the next best option is Monroe. Ed Davis is omitted here, as the Nets are already burdened by a lanky high-potential failure in Yi.


MINNESOTA TIMBERWOLVES

1. Evan Turner
2. Wesley Johnson
3. Al-Farouq Aminu
4. Gordon Hayward
5. Xavier Henry

For the Timberwolves, small forward is the glaring need. They are spoiled with two highly talented point guards in Jonny Flynn and (eventually) Ricky Rubio, so Wall does not appear to be a wise selection for Minnesota. Starting at the 3 this season was Ryan Gomes, who is easily replaced by many of the prospects near the top of the draft board. Turner's the first option, obviously, as he has the height and size to play small forward, and he also boasts the versatility to slide to either guard position if the situation calls for it. Following him are Johnson and Aminu, the former of which is the more polished and NBA-ready player and the latter has the greater potential. After them comes Gordon Hayward, who can stretch the floor with his shooting more that the previous two. He lacks the athleticism, however, to team up well with Flynn and Al Jefferson at center. If the T-Wolves somehow cannot get any of those guys, they should select Xavier Henry, who fits a less severe need at shooting guard. They should pass over Avery Bradley, who is short for the position and does not have anywhere near the shooting range of Henry, who can space the floor well with Jefferson and Kevin Love down low.


SACRAMENTO KINGS

1. Evan Turner
2. DeMarcus Cousins
3. Wesley Johnson
4. Al-Farouq Aminu
5. Daniel Orton


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