8 biggest surprises in NBA draft lottery history
On Tuesday night at 6 p.m. MDT, one NBA team had its fortunes changed forever.
Fourteen teams theoretically had the chance to win the NBA lottery, which determines the order of the NBA draft.
While each team had a chance to win, the odds were in favor of the Boston Celtics, who acquired the Brooklyn Nets’ pick in a blockbuster trade involving Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce in 2013. They had a 25 percent chance to win the lottery.
Boston won the top pick, while the Los Angeles Lakers and Philadelphia 76ers rounded out the top three, respectively.
But in the lottery’s history, it’s been rare for the team with the highest odds to actually get the ping-pong balls to bounce their way. Since its inception, the worst team — or the one with the most ping-pong balls — has only won the lottery five out of 26 times — or 19.2 percent of the time.
Tonight on ESPN, fans of struggling teams will be watching closely as NBA Deputy Commissioner Mark Tatum reveals the results of the lottery, hoping their teams are as lucky as these eight ones.
1999, Charlotte Hornets, 0.73 percent, third pick, Baron Davis
Baron Davis burst onto the scene out of UCLA, becoming somewhat of a mold for today’s point guards — the Russell Westbrooks and John Walls of the world — who rely on speed and athleticism. Davis didn’t start a single game in his rookie season, but after a year of growth on the bench, the Hornets gave their surprise pick a shot to start in all 82 games in his second year.
From then, Davis developed into one of the league’s most explosive guards, averaging over 20 points in seven seasons with the Golden State Warriors and Charlotte Hornets. He also led the Warriors to a first-round series upset over the top-seeded Dallas Mavericks in 2007.
1993, Orlando Magic, 1.5 percent, first pick, Chris Webber
It didn’t take Shaquille O’Neal much time to find his way in the NBA and his early dominance sparked a sense of urgency from the Orlando Magic.
In 1993, Orlando was pleasantly surprised to land the first overall pick, after seemingly having no chance to get it, but the Magic quickly flipped the pick to the Golden State Warriors for Penny Hardaway in hopes of winning a championship right away.
However, the Magic failed to keep O’Neal in Orlando and Webber blossomed in Sacramento, making the NBA All-Star team five times and leading the Kings to the Western Conference Finals in 2002 while averaging 23.7 points and 10.8 rebounds in the postseason.
2014, Cleveland Cavaliers, 1.7 percent, first pick, Andrew Wiggins
With a knack for moving up the draft ladder, the Cavaliers won the lottery twice in four seasons despite their chances being almost nonexistent.
Cleveland awaited LeBron’s Decision: Part II, but decided to go with the best player available and took Andrew Wiggins out of Kansas, who also plays the small-forward position.
But once LeBron decided to return to Cleveland, the Cavaliers took the Webber route, trading Wiggins to the Minnesota Timberwolves for Kevin Love, which culminated in the formation of their “big three” and an eventual championship in 2016.
Wiggins was the recipient of the 2015 NBA Rookie of the Year Award, leaving some to question if the trade was worth it. Nevertheless, their small odds at winning the lottery played a large role in crafting a championship team.
2008, Chicago Bulls, 1.7 percent, first pick, Derrick Rose
Chicago had virtually no chance at landing their hometown star, but with luck on their side, the Bulls were able to secure the injury-plagued franchise player in Derrick Rose.
Rose, one of only three players in Bulls history to win the Rookie of the Year Award (the others being Elton Brand and Michael Jordan), became the youngest player to win the NBA Most Valuable Player Award, earning the honor just three seasons into his professional career after averaging 25 points and 7.7 assists while leading the Bulls to the best record in the Eastern Conference.
Having suffered an ACL tear and two meniscus tears in his right knee, the Bulls cut ties with Rose, trading him to the New York Knicks in 2016. Rose is currently an unrestricted free agent.
2011, Cleveland Cavaliers, 2.8 percent, first pick, Kyrie Irving
Cleveland, on the opposite end of a Wiggins-like deal, traded former All-Star Mo Williams to the Los Angeles Clippers for a first-round pick in 2011, which later became Kyrie Irving.
Expecting the pick to be, at best, in the middle of the lottery, the Clippers instead let a perennial All-Star Irving slip through the cracks, altering the direction of their franchise forever.
Irving, averaging a career-high 25.2 points in 2016, helped lead the Cavaliers to their first NBA championship, including the game-winning 3-point shot in Game 7 of the NBA Finals against the Golden State Warriors.
1990, Seattle SuperSonics, 3.03 percent, second pick, Gary Payton
After early growing pains — he averaged just eight points in the first few seasons of his career — Gary Payton distinguished himself as one of the NBA’s best all-around guards and becoming the only point guard to ever win the Defensive Player of the Year Award.
If the ping pong balls hadn’t bounced Seattle’s way, the franchise never would’ve gotten the intrinsic benefits that came with Payton, like his pesky persona and natural chemistry with Shawn Kemp that shaped Sonics history. Payton was a 2013 Basketball Hall of Fame inductee.
2007, Seattle SuperSonics, 5.3 percent, second pick, Kevin Durant
Payton’s 12 ring-less seasons with the Sonics will always be remembered as “what should’ve been,” but perhaps even more unfortunately, Durant’s one season with the Seattle Sonics before their relocation and rebranding as the Oklahoma City Thunder will always be remembered as “what could’ve been.”
Winning the 2008 Rookie of the Year award, Durant became one of three players — the others being LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony — to average 20 points while still in their teens.
Now donning a Golden State Warriors jersey after notoriously departing from Westbrook and the Thunder last summer, the 2014 MVP remains on pace to becoming a Hall of Famer.
The hope that Sonics fans had after nabbing the second pick and best player in the 2007 NBA draft has evaporated, leaving them with wonderment of Durant’s nonexistent future with the team that was lucky, quite literally, to have him for a year.
2007, Portland Trail Blazers, 5.7 percent, first pick, Greg Oden
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The Trail Blazers, with less than 6 percent odds, weren’t projected to win the NBA lottery. Normally, a team beating the odds and securing the first pick would be looked at as a positive for the franchise, but the Blazers botched the pick, passing on Durant and selecting Oden.
As they watched Durant lead the Thunder to the NBA Finals — the youngest team to do so — in 2012, Portland decided to waive the oft-injured Oden after he appeared in just 82 games.
The NBA lottery has propelled teams to contender status in the past, but, as in the case of Oden, it’s also left a permanent stain on multiple franchises. Tuesday’s results will inevitably do the same.
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Published at Tue, 16 May 2017 23:40:00 +0000