In the aftermath of the NBA Draft Lottery, it’s clear who some of the winners were.
We’re here to tell you that the Mavericks, in an odd sort of way, make the list of winners.
But let’s start with the obvious.
New Orleans with the No. 1 overall pick and the ability to add Zion Williamson to their roster was the clear champion of lottery night.
After a year of dealing with Anthony Davis and his soap opera, the Pelicans came out just fine. It was a little like the old Toby Keith song “How Do You Like Me Now?!” You have to wonder if Davis will have a different opinion of the Pelicans’ organization now.
Asked if he was looking forward to that next conversation with Davis and his camp, Pelicans’ executive vice president of basketball operations David Griffin said: “No more so than before. We have reason to believe that’s something that is attractive. And if I’m Anthony Davis, I’m skeptical obviously. He’s wanted to win this whole time and he felt compelled to try to win elsewhere.
“I think if you look at the totality of where this organization is and where we’re going, we feel very strongly that we’re going to be the environment he wants to be part of. And if we’re not, that’s fine; we can deal with it from there. But I’m looking at this believing that there’s no reason he wouldn’t want to win with us, because that’s what we do. It’s who we are. And I think culturally we’re about all the same things.”
That may or may not be Davis’ opinion. But that will play out over the coming weeks.
One thing for sure is that the Pelicans were inundated with season-ticket requests on the first day after winning the lottery.
Meanwhile, the second-biggest winner in the lottery sweepstakes was the NBA.
The league put together new lottery rules last year and this was the first time the odds of getting the top picks were diluted. The result was that two teams with just a 6 percent chance to get the top pick finished first and second.
The league got exactly what it was hoping for – a lottery that truly is harder to win for the worst teams.
This should send the message loud and clear to teams that there is no reward for not playing to win.
And the No. 3 winner just might have been the Mavericks.
How so, you may ask?
Here’s how. They traded the No. 5 pick last season and the No. 10 pick in this draft for Luka Doncic. And beyond Williamson, this is widely considered to be a lukewarm draft at best.
So even though Williamson is coming to the Western Conference and Memphis and the Lakers both are picking in the top four, the Mavericks made out just fine. Ask any general manager in the league if they would trade the fifth and 10th picks in consecutive drafts for Doncic. The guess here is that most, if not all, of them would do it every day. Especially when one of the drafts is not believed to be strong.
Moreover, they will get to keep their draft pick in 2020 and 2022, as things stand now. The 2021 first rounder will go to New York as part of the Kristaps Porzingis trade. Those stipulations are always subject to change, but keeping a pick in 2022 could be helpful for the Mavericks.
The NBA is strongly considering a change to draft-eligibility rules for the 2021 or 2022 draft. If they allow high-school players to go directly into the league, that will make one of those years a double-dip of talent with one-and-done players being joined by high schoolers.
It could work in the Mavericks’ favor in 2022, although that’s a fair distance down the road.
At the least, the Mavericks are done with the Doncic trade. It would have been nice if they’d gotten one of the top four picks in this draft. But by slipping from nine to 10, that pushed the Hawks down a peg. Considering Atlanta also dropped three spots with its own pick to No. 8, it was not a great night for the Hawks.