The 2019 NBA Draft Lottery is days away, and this is the inaugural year of the new odds for the top overall selection. The three teams that finished with the worst records have equal odds for the number one pick, who many believe will be Zion Williamson. Let’s take a look at possible scenarios depending on how the lottery plays out for the teams with the best odds.
NBA Draft Lottery 2019: Potential #1 Pick Scenarios
On May 14, the New York Knicks, Cleveland Cavaliers, and Phoenix Suns will find out whether they have the best opportunity to move their franchises in the right direction. After having the worst records in that order (Cleveland and Phoenix are tied for second-worst) they each have equal odds for the number one pick. It is widely assumed that Zion Williamson will hear his name called first on draft night.
Zion would give a needed boost to most lottery teams, but if the draft lottery plays out differently, could we see a shake-up with the number-one pick? Would guard-needy teams instead select Ja Morant first? Would any of these teams entertain a draft-night trade?
Let’s take a look at each of the teams and their potential top pick scenarios, should the ping-pong balls (literally) fall in their favor at the NBA Draft Lottery.
The Cavaliers are in desperate need of a spark to generate interest for next season. After the departure of LeBron James, the team completely fell to the other end of the spectrum. Cleveland was also a league-worst 6-35 on the road. At 19-63, they tied for the second-worst overall record.
The consensus top two picks in this year’s draft are Zion Williamson and Ja Morant. Cleveland already has a young point guard in last year’s draft selection, Collin Sexton. Would they choose to upgrade with Morant who looks to be a star in the making?
Chances are the Cavaliers stick with their young point guard, and if given the opportunity, they’ll select Zion with the top pick. It would be difficult to imagine them trading out of the top pick as well. At this stage in the rebuilding process, Cleveland needs a young talent that should entice fans to watch the team.
The Suns have a new coach in Monty Williams and could add a new franchise cornerstone as well. Phoenix already has a star in shooting guard Devin Booker, and they hope last year’s top pick DeAndre Ayton makes strides in year two. What has really plagued Phoenix has been the lack of a point guard.
Despite the allure of Zion wearing a Suns jersey, he is not exactly the missing piece for this team. Booker plays much better when he doesn’t have the facilitating duties resting on his shoulders. He needs a point guard to run the offence, but Phoenix has had numerous trials and errors.
If Phoenix lands the top pick, they should make the wise decision. Draft Ja Morant, who can be the point guard answer they’ve failed to find in years past. Trading out could be dangerous, as it’s unlikely Morant falls past the second spot.
New York Knicks
The Knicks have generated plenty of buzz all season long despite being the worst team in the NBA. The same will likely ring true on draft night, assuming that they end up with the top selection in June’s draft. The events of the NBA Draft Lottery will likely affect the events of July 1st, A.K.A. the beginning of free agency.
Should they land the top pick and decide to keep it, there’s no question who they must take here. Morant could be a star in the future, but Zion already has brand recognition. He needs to develop his game, but he’d immediately make the Knicks worth watching, which hasn’t been the case for a while.
Going deeper is the question of whether Zion fits in the Knicks’ free agency plans. If rumors become reality, and New York lands Kevin Durant and possibly Kyrie Irving, do they now place themselves in “win-now” mode? Would they rather flip the top pick to a buyer, perhaps the New Orleans Pelicans in exchange for Anthony Davis?
Even in the latter scenario, chances are the Knicks would wait for confirmation that they hit the jackpot in free agency. If the Knicks are smart, they’d sign Durant and or Irving, then assess whether the top pick falls in their plans. Regardless, when the time comes, that first pick should be Zion Williamson.
COLUMBIA, SC – MARCH 24: (EDITORS NOTE: Retransmission with alternate crop.) Zion Williamson #1 of the Duke Blue Devils celebrates following their 77-76 win against the Central Florida Knights during the second round of the 2019 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament at Colonial Life Arena on March 24, 2019 in Columbia, South Carolina. (Photo by Lance King/Getty Images)