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NBA draft lottery: Predicting the likely and improbable outcomes

Reported by ESPN:

What’s at stake for each team in Tuesday’s NBA draft lottery (7:30 p.m. ET, ESPN/WatchESPN)?

We break down the likely picks, odds and questions for the 15 franchises hoping on pingpong balls.


No. 1 pick odds: 25.0 percent | Top-3 pick odds: 64.2 percent

If they land in the top three, they should pick …

  • No. 1: Deandre Ayton

  • No. 2: Luka Doncic

  • No. 3: Jaren Jackson Jr.

Most likely pick: Deandre Ayton | C | Arizona

Doncic is an excellent fit on this roster and has built-in chemistry with newly appointed head coach Igor Kokoskov, under whom he won the EuroBasket championship this past summer. Still, it will be difficult to dislodge Ayton from atop this perch, and there is a great deal of need for a dominant center on Phoenix’s roster as well, with Alex Len entering unrestricted free agency and Tyson Chandler nearing the end of his career.

The Suns were the worst defensive team in the NBA last year, and Ayton (or Doncic) won’t provide immediate relief in that area, which could make Jackson or even Mohamed Bamba possibilities to consider should they slip on lottery night. — Givony


No. 1 pick odds: 19.9 percent | Top-3 pick odds: 55.8 percent

If they land in the top three, they should pick …

  • No. 1: Luka Doncic

  • No. 2: Deandre Ayton

  • No. 3: Jaren Jackson Jr.

Most likely pick: Luka Doncic | G | Real Madrid

The Grizzlies’ ownership situation finally being resolved brings some clarity to their long-term outlook, but it creates a new set of questions considering the hefty price majority owner Robert Pera was forced to pay. With nearly $200 million owed to their aging core of Marc Gasol, Mike Conley and Chandler Parsons, it’s unclear whether the Grizzlies can stomach the extended rebuilding process that this roster likely requires.

All this could make Doncic, clearly the most productive, experienced and accomplished player in the draft, significantly more attractive, especially considering his outstanding fit on the roster. Ayton’s fit looks questionable — though his trade value can’t be underestimated — but Jackson and Marvin Bagley III are intriguing fits alongside Gasol, as bigger lineups have proved they can be effective in this year’s playoffs (just look at the Celtics). — Givony


No. 1 pick odds: 13.8 percent | Top-3 pick odds: 42.6 percent

If they land in the top three, they should pick …

  • No. 1: Deandre Ayton

  • No. 2: Luka Doncic

  • No. 3: Jaren Jackson Jr.

Most likely pick: Jaren Jackson Jr. | C | Michigan State

With Dirk Nowitzki turning 40 and committed to returning for what might be his final NBA season, the Mavericks may be straddling between giving the Hall of Famer a proper goodbye and fully committing to a necessary rebuild. Either Ayton or Doncic would look great in a Mavericks uniform, but should Dallas stand pat (or move down) it will likely be picking between a quartet of big men in Jackson, Bagley, Bamba and Wendell Carter Jr.

While Jackson is likely the best two-way prospect in the draft, Bagley is an intriguing fit here as well considering his productivity and the potential of building a roster around his strengths and weaknesses. It’s hard to win in today’s NBA without a defensive anchor, which is what gives Jackson the slight edge for now. — Givony


No. 1 pick odds: 13.7 percent | Top-3 pick odds: 42.6 percent

If they land in the top three, they should pick …

  • No. 1: Deandre Ayton

  • No. 2: Luka Doncic

  • No. 3: Jaren Jackson Jr.

Most likely pick: Marvin Bagley III | PF/C | Duke

The Hawks parting ways with Mike Budenholzer is another sign that their rebuilding process is still at an early stage, indicating that existing pieces and roster needs won’t be as much of a consideration as it might be elsewhere in the lottery.

The big-man trio of Jackson, Bagley and Bamba look like safe bets for heavy consideration depending on where this pick falls, but Trae Young can’t be ruled out either. — Givony


No. 1 pick odds: 8.8 percent | Top-3 pick odds: 29.1 percent

If they land in the top three, they should pick …

  • No. 1: Deandre Ayton

  • No. 2: Luka Doncic

  • No. 3: Jaren Jackson Jr.

Most likely pick: Mohamed Bamba | C | Texas

Orlando’s clogged salary cap limits flexibility in the immediate future, making team needs and roster fit a slightly more pressing issue. With that said, their highly experienced front office was hired last summer on long-term deals and finally has a chance to shape the direction of the team with the help of a new head coach. There are pressing issues to be addressed in the backcourt, where long-term starter Elfrid Payton was shipped off at the trade deadline, and in the frontcourt, where there appears to be a glut of ill-fitting pieces signed to long-term contracts by the previous regime.

Jumping into the top three would be immensely helpful in that process, but expect the Magic to take a long-term view regardless of where they end up. Bamba has huge upside if they stand pat, while Carter would be the safe pick if they get bumped back and he also fits in nicely alongside their existing pieces. Young is certainly someone they’ll need to look at as well. — Givony


No. 1 pick odds: 5.3 percent | Top-3 pick odds: 18.3 percent

If they land in the top three, they should pick …

  • No. 1: Deandre Ayton

  • No. 2: Luka Doncic

  • No. 3: Jaren Jackson Jr.

Most likely pick: Wendell Carter Jr. | C | Duke

An encouraging season showed that Chicago might not be as far away as originally thought, likely pushing the Bulls outside of the top five in this draft but also indicating there are some pieces worth building around, specifically Kris Dunn and Lauri Markkanen. Finding a bigger wing as well as a big man to pair with Markkanen seem to be the most immediate priorities.

Moving into the top three would help that immensely considering how well the best prospects in this draft fit with the Chicago roster. Bamba and Carter look like the top big-man candidates, provided the Bulls don’t move up, while Miles Bridges and Mikal Bridges are strong wing options. — Givony


No. 1 pick odds: 5.3 percent | Top-3 pick odds: 18.3 percent

If they land in the top three, they should pick …

  • No. 1: Deandre Ayton

  • No. 2: Luka Doncic

  • No. 3: Jaren Jackson Jr.

Most likely pick: Michael Porter Jr. | SF/PF | Missouri

The Kings showed progress this season and appear to have some strong building blocks in place, particularly in the backcourt. The strength of this draft is in the frontcourt, and the Kings will certainly look to take advantage of that depending on where they fall.

Power forward is definitely a position of need, with incumbent starter Zach Randolph turning 37 this summer, and modernizing the way they play in terms of adding more shooting and playmaking will likely be a priority. Porter — and to a lesser extent Miles Bridges — are two players to think about if the top-tier big men such as Carter and Bamba are off the board. — Givony


No. 1 pick odds: 2.8 percent | Top-3 pick odds: 9.9 percent

If they land in the top three, they should pick …

  • No. 1: Deandre Ayton

  • No. 2: Luka Doncic

  • No. 3: Jaren Jackson Jr.

Most likely pick: Trae Young | PG | Oklahoma

Cleveland’s sweep of Toronto and the renewed chemistry that appears to have been forged between LeBron James and the rest of the roster seems to bode well for their prospects of keeping the NBA’s most dominant player.

Continuing to stockpile young talent that the King is excited about certainly wouldn’t hurt their pitch, and it just so happens that one of the most talented players in the draft could be sitting here at No. 8. Young plays a huge position of need for this squad, which has cycled through more than a half dozen guard options over the course of the season. If Young is gone, one of the many frontcourt options — such as Carter, Bamba, either Bridges or Porter — could also be attractive. — Givony


No. 1 pick odds: 1.7 percent | Top-3 pick odds: 6.1 percent

If they land in the top three, they should pick …

  • No. 1: Deandre Ayton

  • No. 2: Luka Doncic

  • No. 3: Jaren Jackson Jr.

Most likely pick: Collin Sexton | PG | Alabama

With the growing realization that Frank Ntilikina is best as a defense-minded off guard, the Knicks and newly appointed head coach David Fizdale could use a PG of the future to put pressure on the rim and form a 1-2 scoring punch with Kristaps Porzingis.

Sexton is an ideal candidate as one of the draft’s best penetrators with the burst to dice up defenses and the mentality to thrive in New York City. His extreme focus and on-court competitiveness could fit perfectly in the NYC pressure-cooker. The Knicks also could consider a 3-and-D style wing like Mikal Bridges or an explosive small-ball 4 like Miles Bridges to slot next to Porzingis in a more modern lineup. — Schmitz


No. 1 pick odds: 1.1 percent

Trade considerations: The 76ers get the Lakers’ pick if it lands at No. 1 or Nos. 6-14 (97.1 percent chance). If the pick falls Nos. 2-5, it goes to Boston and the 76ers get the Kings’ 2019 first-rounder unprotected.

If they land in the top three, they should pick …

  • No. 1: Deandre Ayton

  • No. 2: N/A, pick goes to Celtics

  • No. 3: N/A, pick goes to Celtics

Most likely pick: Mikal Bridges | SF | Villanova

After watching Jayson Tatum carve up Marco Belinelli and a host of other Sixers in the playoffs, it’s clear Philly could use more defense-minded wings and few prospects are more ready to play a role at small forward than Mikal Bridges. Although he’s a bit one-dimensional as a spot-up shooter, Bridges fits well with ball-dominant players such as Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid, not needing to pound the ball to have an impact. The wider-bodied Miles Bridges also could get looks here as an energetic two-way combo forward.

Additionally, the Sixers could use another shot-creator should they lose confidence in Markelle Fultz‘s development, which remains unlikely at this stage. If it indeed does come to that, though, they could turn to a prospect like Kentucky’s Shai Gilgeous-Alexander. — Schmitz


Boston Celtics (via Lakers) | Likely spot: None

Top-3 pick odds: 2.9 percent

Trade considerations: The Celtics get the Lakers’ pick if it lands Nos. 2-5 (2.9 percent chance). If the pick goes to the Sixers, Boston gets the better 2019 first-rounder between Sacramento and Philly, protected for No. 1. (If either pick lands No. 1, it goes to the Sixers and the Celtics get the worse pick.)

If they land in the top three, they should pick …

Most likely pick: None

If the Celtics do indeed defy odds and land in the Nos. 2-5 range, expect them to take a long look at the big-man trio of Bagley, Jackson and Bamba. Doncic is obviously in play should Ayton go No. 1 overall, but the Celtics are already armed with quite the perimeter regime in Gordon Hayward, Kyrie Irving, Tatum, Jaylen Brown and Terry Rozier.

Boston values switching and rim protection, and Jackson and Bamba are the draft’s top two defenders. The Celtics have time to develop the young bigs with Al Horford still playing at a high level. Bagley is also an option for Boston, as his aggressive offensive rebounding, transition play and ability to score in the paint without needing much volume bodes well alongside stars. — Schmitz


No. 1 pick odds: 0.8 percent | Top-3 pick odds: 2.9 percent

If they land in the top three, they should pick …

  • No. 1: Deandre Ayton

  • No. 2: Luka Doncic

  • No. 3: Jaren Jackson Jr.

Most likely pick: Miles Bridges | SF/PF | Michigan State

With Marvin Williams nearing 32, newly appointed general manager Mitch Kupchak and recently hired head coach James Borrego could use some youth and explosiveness at either forward spot, opening the door for a physical, hard-playing athlete like Miles Bridges. Kevin Knox also should get a look here given his size, shooting stroke and overall versatility.

Depending on their level of confidence in keeping Kemba Walker, Gilgeous-Alexander could be in the conversation since he fits well next to Malik Monk with his defensive versatility and feel. The Hornets also could entertain Robert Williams at this spot, with Dwight Howard‘s deal set to expire after next season. — Schmitz


No. 1 pick odds: 0.7 percent | Top-3 pick odds: 2.5 percent

Trade considerations: The Pistons keep their pick if it lands in the top four (2.5 percent chance), otherwise it goes to the Clippers. If Detroit keeps its pick this year, it remains top-four protected until 2021, when it switches to unprotected.

If they land in the top three, they should pick …

  • No. 1: Deandre Ayton

  • No. 2: Luka Doncic

  • No. 3: Jaren Jackson Jr.

Most likely pick: None

The Pistons aren’t likely to keep their pick, but if they do they’d be smart to consider all of the top prospects given the state of the franchise, especially with the Stan Van Gundy era behind us.

With that said, it’s a bit tougher to buy into drafting one of the many bigs with the near $60 million per year that’s owed to both Blake Griffin and Andre Drummond until 2021. Doncic could be an interesting fit for the Pistons, as he’s far and away the top perimeter prospect in the draft and would make sense next to some of Detroit’s young assets, so long as the ghost of Darko Milicic doesn’t scare off ownership from drafting the 19-year-old Slovenian. — Schmitz


LA Clippers | Likely spots: Nos. 12 (via Detroit) and 13

No. 1 pick odds: 0.6 percent | Top-3 pick odds: 2.2 percent

If they land in the top three, they should pick …

  • No. 1: Deandre Ayton

  • No. 2: Luka Doncic

  • No. 3: Jaren Jackson Jr.

Most likely picks: Lonnie Walker | SG | Miami & Shai-Gilgeous Alexander | PG | Kentucky

The Clippers have an opportunity to secure their backcourt of the future in the back of the lottery by drafting smooth 6-foot-6 point guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and explosive, shot-making off-guard Lonnie Walker IV, though both could very well rise throughout the draft process. Gilgeous-Alexander and Walker combine for an average wingspan of 6-foot-11 and balance each other out with contrasting skill sets and athletic profiles.

If one of the two is off the board, the Clippers could give Robert Williams a hard look, as he’s one of the most physically gifted players in the draft, with some similarities to a young DeAndre Jordan. Expect Knox and Miles Bridges to also get some play here. — Schmitz


No. 1 pick odds: 0.5 percent | Top-3 pick odds: 1.8 percent

If they land in the top three, they should pick …

No. 1: Deandre Ayton

No. 2: Luka Doncic

No. 3: Jaren Jackson Jr.

Most likely pick: Robert Williams | C | Texas A&M

Although Paul Millsap (33 years old), Mason Plumlee (28) and Kenneth Faried (28) are owed more than $55 million combined next season, the Nuggets could use a young rim-protecting, lob-catching big man like Williams to pair with defensively challenged Nikola Jokic, and Williams will likely be the most intriguing talent on the board (unless Denver improbably rises). While both are centers, Jokic and Williams complement each other quite well on both ends of the floor.

The Nuggets also could consider a wing/combo forward type like Knox or even think outside the box with a high-motor perimeter athlete like Zhaire Smith to pair with Jamal Murray and Gary Harris. If still on the board, Gilgeous-Alexander also could make some sense, as Murray is comfortable on and off the ball. — Schmitz

Source:ESPN

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