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NBA draft lottery: Who needs to win this most?

May 16, 2011, 10:09 PM EDT

Minnesota Timberwolves v Boston Celtics Getty Images

Your team isn’t in the NBA draft lottery unless it needs help (or you used to do trades with Isiah Thomas).

Everybody in it needs to win it. Especially this year, where the drop off from All-Star to “maybe he can be a rotation guy in a couple years” to “we’re hoping he can develop” is very quick and steep. The prize at the top is Kyrie Irving of Duke, and although you can debate if he is a future All-Star or superstar, the consensus is you’re getting a very good point guard. And if you’re in the lottery, you take him.

Who needs to win this most? Here are our five picks:

Minnesota Timberwolves (25 percent chance of getting top pick). Why they need to win the lottery: The Wolves won 17 games last season, so they need all the help they can get. They have one building block inside in Kevin Love and a couple decent wing players (Wesley Johnson, Martell Webster), but they need a Mr. Outside. In theory that would be Ricky Rubio, the guard they drafted from Spain two years ago, but despite what Timberwolves management says, there is no reason for him to come over. They win and draft Irving, and they can shop Rubio to fill another need. They won 17 games, so there are a lot of needs.

Cleveland Cavaliers (22.7 percent chance of getting top pick, via their own pick and the Clippers pick). Why they need to win the lottery: Their last top lottery pick left them, and they need another. The Cavaliers won 19 games with a sad roster that suffered a lot of injuries (frankly explaining cold fusion would be easier than explaining how Minnesota won fewer games than Cleveland). There is no position on the floor where they are set. They need stars and role players, as such they are wisely stockpiling draft picks. Irving would give them a guy to start building around. They have two lottery picks, so theoretically they could get the top two picks, and now we are taking about the rebuilding getting fast tracked. And, despite all of Dan Gilbert’s actions, they are owed a break by the basketball gods.

Toronto Raptors (15.6 percent chance of getting top pick). Why they need to win the lottery: Their best player left them and they need a star to replace him. This team won the lottery in 2006 and has Andrea Bargnani to show for it (Hey, it could have been worse, they could have drafted Adam Morrison.) Really, this team has a few pieces — DeMar DeRozan is a good athletic wing, Ed Davis was solid as a rookie, Jarryd Bayless is a quality guard, and even Bargnani can shoot. A top-flight point guard such as Irving ties this team together, and they get a lot better fast. Well, on offense. Until they start defending it’s all moot, but that’s another issue.

Detroit Pistons (4.3 percent chance of getting top pick). Why they need to win the lottery: Maybe this will convince them it’s time to blow it up and rebuild. The Pistons have lived in a limbo with roster that was begging to be broken up and rebuilt, but that couldn’t happen with an unsettled ownership situation. Throw in veteran players in virtual open mutiny against the coach and things got ugly. Right now Rodney Stuckey is the point guard of the future, but he is no Irving at the point. They have a good young center in Greg Monroe and Austin Daye can be a part of the future, but Irving and a new owner might lead to the rebuilding of this team that has been needed for more than a season.

Golden State Warriors (0.8 percent chance of getting top pick). Why they need to win the lottery: This is a long-suffering fan base that had an owner that really didn’t care, they deserve a break. This is a team with some pieces that is about to undergo a makeover and winning the lottery helps that along dramatically. New owner Joe Lacob — who will represent the team at the lottery — is looking to change this franchise into one that plays defense and not Don Nelson’s scatter ball. Sure, they already have two guards in Monta Ellis and Stephen Curry, but they win the lottery and one of those (*cough* Curry *cough*) will be moved.

  1. purdueman - May 16, 2011 at 11:01 PM

    Winning the lottery this year is no biggie because there’s no consensus #1 pick; hell, there’s not even a consensus as to who should go in the top 5, much less the top pick. The PG from Duke is getting most of the buzz, but after a whole whopping 11 (count ’em), collegiate games coming off of a major injury, is he the next Greg Odom or the next great point guard. Therein lies an enormous risk should he go #1 overall.

    There are now 69 collegiate players declared for the NBA draft (very few of whom are seniors), and another 23-24 Euro’s who have also declared (primarily due to the looming labor stoppage, as that allows those guys to theoretically play one more year in Europe if they choose to do so, for those of course selected in the first round who are eligible for fully guaranteed 3 year contracts). There are only 60 picks in the draft, so the draft while devoid of “name” players, is deep.

    I still laugh at Miami the year that Derrick Rose and Michael Beasley came out. Greaser Pat Riley started dumping veterans before the trading deadline to improve his chances at getting the overall #1 pick, and increased his odds by having the leagues worst record to 25%. But the Bulls with only a 1.7% shot at the #1 pick took Rose and Greaser Riley then took Beasley.

    It gets even funnier though when you consider that Greaser Riley by-passed taking Kevin Westbrook (who went #4 overall), and Kevin Love (who went #5 overall). Bwahahahahaha! So much for Greaser Riley being any kind of a “genious”; any idiot would look good signing La Bum James as a free agent you know.

    • helinhater - May 17, 2011 at 1:54 PM

      With all due respect, I’m not sure you know what you’re talking about.

      First of all, if you don’t know off the top of your head that the “PG from Duke” is named Kyrie Irving, I dont care to hear your thoughts on his candidacy for the #1 pick.

      Secondly, you called Greg Oden “Greg Odom” and Russell Westbrook “Kevin Westbrook”…Granted, it’s possible you simply got confused…but it’s more likely that you’re one of those people who has no clue what they’re talking about yet feels the need to make their opinion known.

      In the future, do us all a favor and make sure you know what you’re talking about before you comment.

      By the way – Genius is not spelled with an O…that squiggly red line under the word? It meant you spelled it incorrectly.

      You’re not doing Purdue any favors…

      • purdueman - May 17, 2011 at 2:38 PM

        Professor, this is a sports blog, not a blog about the latest way scientific breakthrough.

        To your comment: “it’s more likely that you’re one of those people who has no clue what they’re talking about yet feels the need to make their opinion known.”, go screw yourself! I know what I am talking about and who I am talking about, but just frankly don’t give one happy damn about how jocks spell their names. Obviously you knew who I was referring to, and that’s all that matters.

        My post on the point guard from Duke was SARCASM, but that was obviously lost on you. You see, this kid is such a potential “franchise” player that outside of North Carolina, he’s a virtual unknown. (Duh-uh!). And trust me, if I didn’t know his name, I wouldn’t have wasted my time to look it up because it simply isn’t important. Again, you obviously knew who I was referring to and that’s all that matters.

        As for spelling errors? Professor, you may care, but I doubt that most of the other posters here do. I just don’t have the time to proofread everything that I post on a blog. The one flaw in the NBC forums is that you aren’t given the chance to preview your post before posting it and that leads to a lot of such egregious errors.

        Finally, if you know anything about Purdue, it’s a very tough academic institution; last I checked my transcripts, I never took a class on either bowling or how to correctly spell jocks names.

  2. zrbk - May 16, 2011 at 11:13 PM

    Seriously, *cough* Ellis *cough*
    I really hope T-Wolves can find a good guard to help Kevin Love. Rubio thinks he’s acting like Steve Francis, but he actually reminds me of Yi Jianlian.

    • purdueman - May 16, 2011 at 11:32 PM

      Hey, Chinese clown Yi Jianian doesn’t go in the draft as high as he did, odds are Jokin Noah doesn’t drop right down into the Bulls lap! Being a Bulls fan, I thought that Jianian was an EXCELLENT pick as high as he was taken! (LOL!)

  3. blindboydunn - May 16, 2011 at 11:16 PM

    The Jazz need to win it the most, because they basically traded D-will for this pick!

  4. dmo84 - May 16, 2011 at 11:42 PM

    The Cavs are “owed a break by the basketball Gods.” Are you freakin kidding me? Boo-hoo they lost LBJ. At least they had the chance at drafting him(David Stearn working his magic behind closed doors). No team has been more unlucky at the draft lottery than the Wolves. A-hole Stearn will make sure the Wolves win the #1, and for some unexplainable reason the team will give Rubio away to the Knicks or Lakers for a future #1 and an overpaid bench player.

    • purdueman - May 16, 2011 at 11:52 PM

      dmo…. You are spot on! David Stern has ALWAYS been about taking care of the networks first (i.e., the big media market teams), and being fair second. There’s no other explanation for the Memphis giveaway of Pao Gasol to the Lakers for (chuckle, chuckle), with Kwame Brown being the “centerpiece” of the deal going back to Memphis in return.

      It was puppet master Stern pulling the strings in order to shut up Kobe from demanding a trade, as at that time the Lakers were basically hands down the most marketable NBA property. Chris Paul though is targeted for the Knicks; Rubio is simply too much of a gamble, but I sure wouldn’t put it past Stern to find some loophole that would allow Rubio to suddenly become a Laker, with the T-Wolves holding a bag of shit again in return.

      I don’t though see Stern having any interest in the T-Wolves getting the first overall pick this year; keep in mind that Stern has said on numerous occasions that the T-Wolves are on his most wanted to contract list. No, if anything the Cavs are at the top of the list this year in an effort to try and cause the La Bum fiasco to die down a bit. JOMO.

      • helinhater - May 17, 2011 at 1:57 PM


        You sound like one of those Fox News birthers…

    • purdueman - May 16, 2011 at 11:59 PM

      dmo… one more thing… per my earlier post, there’s no consensus #1 overall pick this year… no likely “franchise player”, so this would be the ideal time to throw Cleveland a bone and let them gamble taking the highly inexperienced, injury prone Duke PG if that’s what they want to do.

      That way if the Cavs pass on taking him and he turns out to be the real deal down the road, Stern can wash his hands and say: “Hey, the league has done all that they can for the Cavs; it’s not the leagues fault that their management team screwed up!”

      Bottom line? I’m sure that Cleveland is on Stern’s desired contraction list, right there with Memphis, the Clippers, Sacramento, Memphis and New Orleans. With the exception of the irrelevant Clippers, all of these cities are near the bottom of the media market totem pole. Stern would rather contract these teams, then expand internationally down the road starting with big European cities.

    • jstrizzle - May 17, 2011 at 12:35 AM

      If you wanna throw out some conspiracy theories regarding the draft at least mention Chicago getting the number 1 pick with Derrick Rose from Chicago coming out and them having only a 1.7 percent chance of winning it.

      • purdueman - May 17, 2011 at 12:49 AM

        I’m a lifelong Bulls fan, and as far as I’m concerned that was “Stern payback” for Heat Greaser GM Riley (who had the highest probability of winning the lottery), dumping veteran players before the trading deadline in an attempt to get that pick.

        That aside, the “lottery” is a joke, because it shouldn’t be the current what? 14 teams?, but instead should only be limited to the worst 8 (even though it would have cost my Bulls Rose the year the Bulls lucked into the first pick of the draft).

      • jstrizzle - May 17, 2011 at 1:21 AM

        I was happy to be honest when the Bulls got the first pick. I actually like them quite a bit. Gotta root for someone when your team is as horrible as the Wolves. I just wished they showed more of what happens instead of just telling us who wins.

  5. jstrizzle - May 17, 2011 at 12:31 AM

    While it is true the Timberwolves have a 25% chance of winning the lottery know that in the lottery’s 26 years the top team have only won 2 times. Knowing the T’wolves’ luck I am predicting the 3rd overall pick. Sacramento the 1st and Cleveland the 2nd followed by the Minnesota. Anyone else have some guesses?

  6. 00maltliquor - May 17, 2011 at 4:30 AM

    I hate this team and it’s fans/owner because they feel like everyone owes them something, but by FAR the Cleveland Cavaliers need the 1st pick. By FARRRR! Minnasota wont get it cause it has just about as bad a curse on that franchise as it gets. Golden State needs it by far the LEAST. They need a legit center, solid coach and 1-2 good bench player(s) and they’re in better shape than most people think. And the Raptors got a roster chalk full of underrated/under-appreciated players that don’t work well together and as a whole, but probably need it 2nd to the Cavs. I hope Minny gets it cause despite what David Kahn has done, i really dig that roster. (But then again who cares, he’ll just F*** it up again so it probably doesn’t matter.)

    • 00maltliquor - May 17, 2011 at 4:52 AM

      Oh yeah, and as far as the Pistons are concerned, Joe Dumars needs to pay and shouldn’t recieve ant gifts coming his way for at least another year for blowing his cap room on Ben Gordon and Charlie V. Especially since he didn’t need them. That team as is shoulda made the 8th seed at least. I dont care what any of you say, that was a good roster this year, but that coach was wack and they had too many logjams to figure it out.

      • purdueman - May 17, 2011 at 6:32 AM

        $11M/year for one dimensional ball hog Ben Gordon? LOL!!! Too-ooo funny to us Bulls fans!

        The Bulls offered Gordon almost the same contract he signed with the Pistons (and thank God he did!), but hothead Ben wanted only to be a starter, even though the closest thing he’ll ever know to defense is de-fense in his front yard! (ROFLMAO!).

        Sure, the Bulls could have used ballhog Ben this year in the role the Kyle Korver currently holds, but he’s too short and defensively challenged to have ever paired him with Rose. In addition, he’s worth only about half of what the Pistons are paying him, and that only if he’s coming off the bench.

    • savocabol1 - May 17, 2011 at 8:06 AM

      To tell you the truth Cleveland fans don’t feel like they are owed anything, but the national media will always tell you different. We have experienced so much losing in our teams that we are used to it. The national media paints Cleveland as this entitled child who expects to get their way, and when they don’t they think they are owed something. Frankly, that couldn’t be farther away from the truth.

    • kopy - May 17, 2011 at 3:55 PM

      Cleveland only “deserves” the #1 pick in your eyes because they lost a previous #1 pick. The Timberwolves have never had such a luxury to lose in the first place. This year is their turn.

  7. orlandonick - May 17, 2011 at 8:06 AM

    Orlando wins lottery drafts shaq. Loses him to the lakers. Orlando wins lottery. Drafts Howard( people wanted them to take Okafer) impending free agency for Howard. Doesnt matter who drafts who. Once they become stars they do everything they can to play in a major market. The wolves wont win with Irving, because no other free agents will want to sign there

  8. slam1234 - May 17, 2011 at 11:46 AM

    why does this guy kurt keep saying kyrie irving is the #1 pick? it depends who is drafting. if the wizards got the #1 pick they would not draft kyrie irving.

    • purdueman - May 18, 2011 at 9:56 AM

      Maybe he’s a fellow “Dukie Pukie”?!

  9. smitheye - May 17, 2011 at 12:45 PM

    Martell Webster is decent? You get worse and worse with every article.

  10. kopy - May 17, 2011 at 3:53 PM

    The Timberwolves were the worst team in the NBA this year. They have never moved up in the lottery, and they have moved down and gotten a worse-than-deserved pick 7 out of the 13 times they’ve been in it. Why should anyone else deserve the #1 pick?

    • purdueman - May 17, 2011 at 10:06 PM

      kopy… it has nothing to do with FAIR and EVERYTHING to do with what puppetmaster Stern deems in the best interests of the NBA in order to placate the NBA’s lucrative TV partners.

      How do you think an All Star like Pao Gasol wound up on the Lakers mainly in a deal for joke Kwame Brown? It was because the Lakers were the most marketable tv property the NBA had at the time and Kobe was grousing about wanting to be traded. The “greased” trade (if you want to call it that), that brought Gasol (and 2 NBA championships), to LA wasn’t by accident.

      This year is no different. Stern is said to be deeply concerned over the NBA’s damaged image that resulted from the La Bum free agent announcement, and the best way to try and get all of the resulting furor (and much earned hate towards La Bum), was to have Cleveland get the overall #1 pick in the draft this year. Of course, that now has come to pass!

      Don’t lament too much about the T-Wolves because there are 2-3 guys all bunched up at the top according to leading draftniks, and someone’s going to get burned and someone’s going to wind up lucking out. Doesn’t matter if the T-Wolves draft 1, 2 or 3, because this years draft is truly a crap shoot.

  11. bigtrav425 - May 17, 2011 at 4:55 PM

    Dan Gilberts actions? there were nothing wrong with any of his actions.It was real and raw emotion from someone who cares and pretty much got stabbed in the back.In Gilbert we trust!..that being said its either Irving or nothing for us if we dont get him id much rather trade atleast 1 of our picks away and get another one for next yrs LOADED draft or even draft 1 or 2 foreigners and leave them overseas

  12. purdueman - May 17, 2011 at 9:10 PM

    Ha ha ha, boys! I told ya!!! So Stern isn’t the ultimate puppetmaster? The same Stern who greased the skids for Memphis to hand over All Star Pao Gasol in order to keep Kobe and the networks happy in return for sack of crap Kobe Brown? Yup, that’s the guy and he’s done it again!

    I told all of you earlier today that Cleveland would wind up with the overall #1 pick in this years draft because Stern is trying to quite down the controversy over the La Bum James controversy and take some of the sting out of the royal screw job La Bum put on the Cavaliers, and now it’s official!

    • hbdbrowns33 - May 17, 2011 at 10:27 PM

      You keep coming on here and making yourself sound dumb sir. Every player you talk about you spell their name wrong even your own Bulls player Joakim Noah. The trade for Pau got Memphis Marc Gasol who is one of the best young centers in the NBA and two first round picks that they traded for more picks and got Greivis Vasquez who played great for them in the playoffs this year.

      • purdueman - May 17, 2011 at 10:44 PM

        hdb… I’m a middle aged white guy; I’m used to first names like Bob, Chuck, Charlie, Mike, Sam, Dick, Tom and Joe.

        When you start getting into all these “one off” ethnic names, frankly I’m both lost and I really could care less, even if it’s a player on one of my teams. “Joakim” is to me a weird name, but if that’s what he parents wanted to name him, it’s none of my concern… I just wouldn’t do that to my own kids.

        So if I sound dumb to you, you’re totally ignoring the substance of my posts and frankly should go find another forum to post on… like a national spelling bee forum.

        I realize that Mark Gasol was part of the Paul Gasol trade, but at the time there were no guarantees that he’d even come to the NBA and the Lakers (as I recall), took him in the 2nd round of the draft with no real intention of signing him. They used him as trade bait, so no matter how good he becomes, he was irrelevant at the time of the deal.

        Admittedly I know nothing about (another weird first name), Vasquez, nor do I much care either. What matters is that Stern greased the skids in order to keep Kobe happy in LA and basically handed LA two championships to appease the networks with the Lakers “give back” being willing to go into luxury tax land. It sucks, but that’s the reality of it too.

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