That was fun right?
Somehow the Cleveland Cavaliers continue to be gifted NBA Draft Lottery karma in the wake of LeBron James leaving for Miami, and last night they jumped not only into the top three of the draft, but to the very top spot, giving them their choice of Jabari Parker, Andrew Wiggins, or Joel Embiid next month.
It was a surprising turn of events on an evening that saw the Detroit Pistons lose their draft pick to the recently re-renamed Charlotte Hornets, and the Philadelphia 76ers pick up a second lottery pick, this one via the New Orleans Pelicans, thanks to last year's Jrue Holiday trade.
The Toronto Raptors, as noted yesterday, weren't involved in the lottery process but last night's results could have some impact on the team, if not next season, in the very near future. Here are three thoughts that crossed my mind in the aftermath of last night's affair:
1) The East starts to improve? Four of the top five lottery finishers were Eastern Conference clubs. This means that while clubs like the 76ers and Magic likely won't be chomping at the Raptors' heals next season (providing last year's core returns), things should start getting a little tighter in the East in the near future.
2) Lakers and Lowry. The Lakers landing outside of the top three is probably a good thing for Toronto. How good remains to be seen but if the Lakers keep their pick, suddenly a couple top point guard options like Marcus Smart and Dante Exum are in their range, which may mean they stay away from Kyle Lowry in free agency. No guarantee of course, but you have to think that landing a Wiggins, Parker or Embiid would have made things a little more intriguing for propspective free agents, and perhaps would have made Los Angeles press hard for a veteran to run the show. Considering that LA seems to be one of the biggest threats to Toronto's retention of their team MVP, anything, even the smallest wrinkles, help.
3) Trade partners open up. On the other hand, with Kobe Bryant nearing the end of his career, it's easy to the Lakers moving this pick to get some help now. The Kevin Love rumours have been swirling, but who knows what LA decides to do here. The same can be said for clubs like Boston and Sacramento who were likely hoping to get into that top three. There's word already that Sacramento has placed its pick on the block, so Masai Ujiri might now be able to swoop in and take advantage. It was harder to imagine such a scenario if "non-win-now" clubs like Philadelphia and Milwaukee ended up outside the top three.
Outside of the Raptors, it was interesting to see how many of the "tank" teams ended up missing the mark. While it's not a total disaster, I'm guessing the Philadelphia 76ers braintrust were looking squarely at a top two finish, and clubs like the Jazz and Celtics couldn't have been too thrilled with the results either.
It's another interesting chapter in the whole "tanking" debate, one that the Toronto Raptors for once, won't be part of.