NBA Draft Lottery Preview

Tuesday night is the NBA Draft lottery. The winner of the lottery will no doubt draft Zion Williamson out of Duke.

Duke has already had four #1 picks and Zion will make 5. In total, 18 schools have had multiple #1 draft picks – Duke, Cincinnati, Duquesne, Georgetown, Houston, Indiana, Kansas, Kansas State, Kentucky, LSU, Maryland, Michigan, North Carolina, Purdue, UCLA, UNLV, Utah, West Virginia

How important is the lottery? 21 of the 27 players from the 2019 All Star game were lottery picks. Here is the full breakdown

Knicks had the worst record (17-65) but only have 14% chance to win the lottery. What if the NBA did not have a lottery system and the draft order was simply the reverse standings? What if, in hindsight the team with the worst record between 2005 and 2017 picked first, who would they have drafted?

Speaking of the Knicks…


  • Knicks won first ever draft lottery in 1985 and drafted Patrick Ewing, who will be their representative on stage this year
  • Four #1 picks all-time: Ewing, Cassie Russell (1966), Jim Barnes (1964), Art Heyman (1963)

Knicks have had a rough time drafting in the first round the last 20 years. In fact, only one played since 1993 has signed a second contract with the Knicks (Charlie Ward).

Even worse, the Knicks have a horrific 30 year run of second round draft picks. In 2019, they don’t have a pick because of a 2014 trade (5 years ago!!) involving Travis Outlaw and Arnett Moultrie.

Opinion: As a Knicks fan, its fair to say Tuesday is the most important night of my life. But at the same time, it’s also the most meaningless. IF Kevin Durant comes to the Knicks this summer, it won’t be because of Zion Williamson. It will be because of non-basketball related reasons and overall legacy. I can’t wait for all the takes if the Knicks don’t win the lottery – “LOL SAME OLD KNICKS”. Not getting Zion would suck, but not getting Zion would NOT equal not getting Durant. They are two completely separate ideas.


  • Six #1 picks all-time, including 3 since 2011 – Andrew Wiggins (2014), Anthony Bennett (2013), Kyrie Irving (2013), Brad Daugherty (1986), Austin Carr (1971)

Opinion: Cavs don’t deserve the #1 pick (link below). Yes, they won a championship with Kyrie Irving, but than they traded him for nothing and wasted the Anthony Bennett pick (imagine Victor Oladipo with Lebron James??).


  • 2018 was the first and only time the Suns ever had the #1 pick, selecting DeAndre Ayton

Opinion: Suns should root for #2. Ja Morant is a much better fit for this team with Devin Booker and DeAndre Ayton and with Monty Williams as head coach, they could be a sneaky 8th seed contender.


  • Bulls have picked #1 twice, both times in the lottery system – they drafted Elton Brand in 1999 and Derrick Rose in 2008

Cavs, Suns, Bulls are three teams that do NOT deserve to win the 2019 draft lottery


  • Hawks have picked #1 just once, taking David Thompson in 1975

Hawks have a solid foundation, and that included their excellent 2018 draft where one of their three first round picks made our over-drafted/under-drafted list

Opinion: After last year’s highly touted draft, the Hawks are in an excellent position even if they don’t win the lottery. Trae Young, Kevin Huerter, and John Collins are excellent building blocks plus this year’s pick and enough cap space to add a formidable veteran or two.


  • Two #1 overall picks, both during the lottery era – Kwame Brown in 2001 and John Wall in 2010
  • Drafting Kwame Brown was a decision Michael Jordan made. Brown has been out of the NBA since 2013 while the next two picks are still going and both have championship rings – Tyson Chandler and Pau Gasol


  • Pelicans franchise has only picked first one time, in 2012, drafting Anthony Davis. They won the lottery with a 13.7% chance
  • They have only picked in the top 10 four times total – Davis, Chris Paul 4, 2004), Nerlens Noel (6, 2013), Buddy Hield (6, 2016)

Before the 2018-19 NBA season, we ranked the active #1 draft picks – where does Anthony Davis rank on that list?

Opinion: Pelicans don’t deserve the #1 pick. Anthony Davis, the franchise’s only top pick, is on his way out and the front office never put a great team around him. If they couldn’t have success with a generational talent like Davis, how could they be expected to exceed that with Zion?


  • Grizzlies are one of two teams involved in 2019 lottery who have never picked #1
  • Grizzlies had the worst record in NBA in 2007, but ended up picking 4th, drafting Mike Conley. Drafting Conley worked out just fine, but they lost out on Kevin Durant (or Greg Oden)
  • Despite never winning the lottery, they have picked 2nd four times – Mike Bibby (1998), Steve Francis (1999), Stromile Swift (2000), Hasheem Thabeet (2009)
  • As an expansion team in 1995, they started out with their 6th pick, drafting Bryant “Big Country” Reeves. By not picking higher, they lost out on Rasheed Wallace, Jerry Stackhouse, and Kevin Garnett

If the Grizzlies pick outside the top 8, their pick belongs to the Celtics. This is the result of a trade made all the way back in 2014, that netted the Grizzlies Jeff Green.


  • Mavs have never won the lottery, but picked #1 once in 1981, drafting Mark Aguirre

If the Mavs pick outside the top 5, the pick goes to the Hawks as part of the Luka Doncic/Trae Young swap during last year’s draft. If they do pick inside the top 5, it gives them a chance to add a star to pair with 2019 Rookie of the Year Doncic and the returning Kristaps Porzingis.


  • Their only #1 pick was in 2015, when they drafted Karl Anthony-Towns
  • Wolves had three #1 picks on their roster in 2018-19 (Towns, Wiggins, Rose)


  • Three #1 overall picks, all of whom worked out pretty well – Elgin Baylor (1958), Magic Johnson (1979), James Worthy (1982)
  • From 2015-2017 Lakers picked #2 drafting D’Angelo Russell, Brandon Ingram, and Lonzo Ball

Will the Lakers draft someone who can come in and help Lebron James immediately? In his 16 year career, Lebron has played with just 5 first round picks (Luke Jackson, Shannon Brown, JJ Hickson, Norris Cole, Mo Wagner). Cavs and Heat did not have the best track record of drafting


  • Hornets drafted Larry Johnson first overall in 1991
  • The new age version of the Hornets (and Bobcats) re-born in 2004** have never picked first, but have picked 2nd three times (four times overall)


  • One #1 overall pick – Pervis Ellison in 1989
  • Despite having an NBA-high 13 year playoff drought, the Kings have picked top 5 five times, #2 last year (Marvin Bagley), 4th, and 5th three times. Not much luck for a team that hasn’t experienced much success.

Kings pick will belong to Celtics, unless they win the lottery. This is the result of the Kings trading Nik Stauskas PLUS a pick to the 76ers in 2015 and Philly than re-routing that pick to Boston in 2017, allowing them to draft Markelle Fultz #1 overall.

Follow me on twitter @msschneid or instagram @mikedropsports

Mike is an alum of the University of Cincinnati and the ultimate sports nerd.

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