NBA

Did the 2024 Draft Lottery Damage the NBA’s Bottom Barrel?

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Even in the midst of a wildly entertaining postseason, the NBA offseason news continues as always and this year’s draft lottery certainly made some noise.

Atlanta earned the first overall pick despite entering the 2024 draft lottery with just a 3% chance to do so. Several protected picks changed hands, while movement across the lottery board made for an interesting afternoon. To top all that off, the consensus mock drafts out there continue to change by the day.

The insanity indeed has begun, and it’s only May.

With the draft lottery now over, it’s time to take stock of the ramifications for the offseason. Here are the top stories you need to know following the conclusion of this year’s draft lottery.

Atlanta faces a crossroads

The Hawks — who last picked in the top-five in 2018 — will enter some unfamiliar territory with this draft. This will be the team’s first No. 1 overall pick since moving to Atlanta, and it comes after a historic jump in the lottery:

Lowest percentage odds to win No. 1 overall pick (since 1985)

  • Orlando – 1993 (1.52%)
  • Cleveland – 2014 (1.7%)
  • Chicago – 2008 (1.7%)
  • Cleveland – 2011 (2.8%)
  • Atlanta – 2024 (3%)

The question is: now what?

An extraordinary run to the 2021 Eastern Conference Finals looks more like an anomaly for the Hawks, who have won between 36 and 43 games the last four regular seasons under three different full-time coaches. Last year’s 36-win campaign was Atlanta’s worst since 2019-20, despite its backcourt of Trae Young and Dejounte Murray.

Landing the number one pick could change things. Does Atlanta embrace a different direction, one where Young is no longer in the picture? How do the Hawks approach a draft lacking a consensus first selection? After consecutive years of regression, what is the ultimate end game for Atlanta this offseason?

Continued limbo at the bottom of the barrel

Atlanta’s historic jump to the first pick marked one of the two major storylines from this year’s lottery. The other: the franchises facing the consequences of the Hawks lucking out.

All of Detroit (14%), Charlotte (13.3%) and Portland (13.2%) entered with three of the four-highest odds to land the first overall pick. Each dropped three spots relative to their lottery odds, which complicates some already tough situations:

  • Detroit: No. 5 pick (entered tied for best odds at No. 1 pick)
  • Charlotte: No. 6 pick (entered with third-best odds at No. 1 pick)
  • Portland: No. 7 pick (entered with fourth-best odds at No. 1 pick)

Portland and Charlotte are each coming off 21-win seasons, while Detroit finished dead last with just 14 wins. Where all three go from here is anything but certain.

Each boast a mix of veterans on long-term deals and unproven prospects, but no absolute sure-fire franchise cornerstone. Portland and Charlotte shifted gears recently more toward a future-looking mentality, but both still have a long way to go to clear playoff contention. Detroit continues to face an uncertain future, and this past year’s historically bad run yielded yet another poor finish in the lottery:

Even with slightly lower picks now, maybe one can still strike gold outside the top-five of the first round.

Plenty of upside in Texas

Two Texas-based fanbases, Houston and San Antonio, prevailed big-time in the lottery after jumping up multiple spots.

Houston leaped from No. 12 to third overall, giving the franchise another shot at drafting a young prospect to building on this past season’s promising step forward. Likewise, San Antonio boasts the fourth and eighth overall picks, who will hopefully serve to compliment franchise cornerstone Victor Wembanyama.

For two different reasons, be on the lookout for some potential movement in the draft order due to either of these teams choosing to trade up or down. Both will likely stay in their current spots, but San Antonio and Houston will each be looking to build more of a solid foundation to compete in the wild Western Conference.

What’s up with Toronto and Memphis?

Talk about two teams in two pretty unique situations.

We’ll start with one of the major losers from the lottery— Toronto. The Raptors entered the lottery with the sixth-best odds of the number one pick. Instead, they now forked over the eighth pick to San Antonio due to the Jakob Poeltl trade.

Yet again, Toronto remains in limbo since the fallout of its 2019 championship roster. Sending out Pascal Siakam and OG Anunoby via midseason trades marks the start of what would hopefully be a new chapter for the franchise. But, losing out on a valuable first-round selection makes that goal tougher to reach. A core of Scottie Barnes, Immanuel Quickley and RJ Barrett is a start, but nothing more.

Toronto shifted more to a rebuild this past year, yet still rosters several veterans and no proven franchise-altering cornerstone.

Another team with a complex situation to monitor— Memphis.

Injuries and Ja Morant‘s absence derailed the Grizzles last season, who finished 27-55 (24 fewer wins than 2022-23). Luckily, Memphis possesses the ninth pick to bring in a ready-now player or ship out in a larger trade for a veteran. There’s pros and cons for either choice, but it’s definitely an important one for a Grizzlies team looking to quickly rebound from this year’s disappointing regular season.

What offseason storylines are you watching for this year?

About Dominic Chiappone

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