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10 biggest storylines entering the NBA draft lottery

May 15th, 2017 at 12:00 AM
Aggregated By Sports Media 101

There is no spectacle in sports like the NBA Draft lottery. The NHL has a lottery of its own, but it only puts the top overall pick up for chance, and one hockey player typically provides less of an impact to his new franchise compared to a basketball player.

The lottery can change everything for a host of teams and players, in the matter of minutes, without a single basketball in play. Instead, ping-pong balls dance around and decide the fate of franchises in just a moment.

This year’s lottery has extra intrigue. Picks have been traded, protected, and designated for swapping. Some of the most high-profile teams and power players in today’s NBA will be watching with keen interest, ready to celebrate their chance to fish for a franchise player.

Here’s a look at the 10 most important things to know about Tuesday’s NBA Draft lottery.

1. The Lakers await their fate

No team has more on the line at the lottery drawing than the Los Angeles Lakers. The newly re-built front office will watch with bated breath as the franchise’s next three to five years hangs in the balance. Back in 2012, the Lakers sent a protected future first-round pick to the Suns for Steve Nash, pairing the two-time MVP with Dwight Howard and Kobe Bryant.

While that superteam floundered, the Suns would later move that pick in the four-team deal that saw Isaiah Thomas, Michael Carter-Williams, and Brandon Knight shipped to new teams. The Sixers, deep in the throes of asset acquisition, were happy to swap Carter-Williams for the promise of such a high pick.

The pick has stayed inside its agreed upon protections, and hence with the Lakers, every year thus far, but is in real jeopardy of heading to Philly this year. The Lakers keep the pick if it falls in the top three. There is a 46.9 percent chance that happens. The Sixers will get it if it falls fourth or higher. If the pick stays with the Lakers this year, the Sixers will receive the Lakers’ pick next year, completely unprotected.

To make matter worse for Los Angeles, that same summer in which they acquired Nash, they sent a future first-round pick to the Orlando Magic for Howard. That pick is scheduled to be sent to the Magic two years following the one sent to Philadelphia (due to the Stepien Rule, which forbids teams from trading consecutive first-round picks). Luckily for the Lakers, if they keep this year’s pick, the future selection owed to Orlando expires and becomes two second-round picks.

Best case for Los Angeles means keeping their pick this year and in 2019, but sending next season’s selection to Philadelphia (and doing everything to make sure it isn’t at the top of the draft). 

It’s safe to say that ESPN’s cameras will be locked on Magic Johnson.

2. The Kings reap what they sowed

Meanwhile, up the California coast, the Sacramento Kings are in a similar situation.

In 2015, Kings general manager Vlade Divac made a trade with the Sixers that has already hurt the franchise, and the worst is yet to come. Looking to sign veterans like Rajon Rondo to please DeMarcus Cousins, Sacramento sent the salaries of Nik Stauskas, Jason Thompson, and Carl Landry to Philadelphia for two meaningless European stashed players. As compensation for taking on those salaries, the Kings also sent the Sixers a 2019 first-round pick (unprotected) and the right to swap picks in the 2016 and 2017 first rounds.

The Kings were lucky that the lottery balls kept them from swapping last year, but this lottery offers another opportunity for that trade to haunt Sacramento. The Kings have 2.8 percent chance of seeing their logo pop up from …

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Tags: Andre Drummond, Andrew Wiggins, Atlanta Hawks, Ben Simmons, Boston Celtics, Brad Stevens, Bryan Colangelo, Carmelo Anthony, Chicago Bulls, Cleveland Cavaliers, Dallas Mavericks, Detroit Pistons, Dirk Nowitzki, Dragan Bender, Dwight Howard, Golden State Warriors, Jason Terry, Jason Thompson, Joel Embiid, Karl-Anthony Towns, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Kevin Garnett, Kevin Love, Kobe Bryant, Kristaps Porzingis, Los Angeles Clippers, Los Angeles Lakers, Magic Johnson, Mario Hezonja, Mark Cuban, Milwaukee Bucks, Minnesota Timberwolves, NBA, New York Knicks, Nik Stauskas, Orlando Magic, Paul Pierce, Philadelphia 76ers, Phoenix Suns, Rajon Rondo, Reggie Jackson, Sacramento Kings, Serge Ibaka, Tobias Harris, Toronto Raptors

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