The NBA will hold their annual Draft Lottery event on Thursday August 20th, which involves them finalizing the draft order with the 14 NON-playoff teams (cough, NHL, cough).
I take a look at 5 teams who, based on history, karma and other tidbits beyond 2019-20 records, do not deserve the #1 pick in this year’s draft.
Golden State Warriors
This one feels like it needs little explanation. Before 2020, Warriors made 5 straight NBA Finals, winning 3 of them. Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, and Draymond Green are still arguably the best trio in the league when healthy. Now, they also have Andrew Wiggins and a handful of young role players that have emerged during this rough year.
Adding the #1 pick will, in some ways, be similar to adding Kevin Durant. READ ON BEFORE BLASTING ME! The player drafted will be nowhere near the level of Durant, maybe ever. But the idea that the Warriors could add a top notch college or international prospect, in addition to their current roster is unfair and undeserving.
Note, the Cavs were on this list in 2019 and will likely continue to be on these lists as long as I do them. Here’s why.
Cleveland has picked #1 more times than any other team since 2000 (4) and since 2010 (3). They selected Lebron James in 2003, and well he’s one of the greatest players of all-time. He led Cleveland to the NBA Finals 5 times (lost 4) and left twice in free agency. Since the first departure in 2010, Cleveland drafted Kyrie Irving (2011), Anthony Bennett (2013), and Andrew Wiggins (2014). Wiggins never played a game and was traded before the season for Kevin Love. Love, Irving and James led the Cavs to their first and only NBA title in 2016. Irving was traded in 2018 for a banged up Isaiah Thomas and a Nets first round pick that was projected to be top 3 but turned into Colin Sexton. Anthony Bennett played 52 games in Cleveland and might be the worst #1 pick of all-time .
A team that couldn’t keep their hometown hero (twice), traded a #1 pick for scraps, and drafted the worst player ever #1 doesn’t deserve the #1 pick.
New Orleans Pelicans
Despite a 6% chance to move up in 2019, Pelicans won the lottery and drafted Zion Williamson. They have picked #1 twice in the last 8 years – Zion in 2019 and Anthony Davis in 2012.
Pelicans made the playoffs twice with Davis, winning a series just once. Williamson came into the league with huge expectations and a team expected to win now.
Coaching, injuries, and circumstances have held back New Orleans over the years. They were lucky to get Zion and lucky to get Davis (4th best odds). They don’t deserve another lucky ping pong ball and another star whose talent will be wasted and eventually traded.
San Antonio Spurs
2020 has been a famously bad year. For the Spurs, you could say it’s as bad for them as anyone, as they saw their historic 22 year playoff streak come to an end.
The future is still bright in San Antonio with guys like Dejounte Murray, Derrick White, and Keldon Johnson. But do the Spurs really deserve a top pick? After all, they have made the playoffs 22 of the last 23 seasons.
Spurs fans deserve some of the same bad luck and disappointment as the other 29 NBA teams’ fans have endured over the years.
Simply put, the Kings will mess up the pick because they mess up nearly every pick.
In 2018, Kings drafted Marvin Bagley 2nd overall (after Deandre Ayton). The next three picks were Luka Doncic, Jaren Jackson Jr, Trae Young. Honestly, the other two don’t even matter. They drafted Bagley over Doncic.
In the summer of 2015, in an effort to free up cap space, Kings traded Nik Stauskas, plus the contracts of Jason Thompson and Carl Landry AND two first round picks to Philly. They gave away Stauskas, who was the 8th overall pick one year prior.
In 2011, Kings made a three-team deal with Charlotte and Milwaukee. Kings drafted Bismack Biyombo 7th, but he was part of the trade. They could have not made a trade and taken Kemba Walker 7th instead. As part of the deal, they got the 10th pick and took Jimmer Fredette. The very next pick was Klay Thompson and 5 picks after Jimmer was Kawhi Leonard.
Do I need to give more examples of why the Kings don’t deserve #1?
Who should win?
My prediction is that it’s going to be the New York Knicks. If there was ever a draft lottery for the Knicks to win, it would be 2020 simply because there isn’t a consensus #1 player. This isn’t Karl-Anthony Towns or Zion Williamson drafts (when the Knicks had top 3 odds). This is a debate between Anthony Edwards, James Wiseman, Lamelo Ball, Obi Toppin. It would make sense that the Knicks would finally have luck during a draft where it could divide the fan base and the front office could (and probably would) easily screw it up, adding another chapter to their long history of draft struggles.
The Phoenix Suns also very much deserve to win because of positive karma. Their playoff drought reached 10 years in 2020, however the season ended on an extremely high note. Phoenix went 8-0 in the NBA restart, but failed to reach the play-in game. Now, after entering the bubble 13th in the West, the Suns have a 13.9% chance at a top 4 pick. While Phoenix has made dozens of mistakes over the past decade and wasted tons of talent, their progression in the bubble shows they are ready and deserving of more positive momentum. Give Devin Booker more help!
A few weeks ago, I pegged Minneapolis as the saddest sports city in North America. Giving the Minnesota Timberwolves the #1 pick for the second time since 2015 would he a huge benefit to a franchise that has made the playoffs just once since 2005.