The NBA Draft lottery is Tuesday, and with the ping pong balls rest the futures of at least 14 NBA teams.
A high draft pick — or the No. 1 overall pick — could irrevocably change a team and the league.
A bad combination could mean the loss of a first-round pick and a seriously jeopardized future.
There's nothing teams can do now to improve their chances at a better pick, but the need for luck to shine on them hasn't diminished at all.
So, when it comes to the No. 1 overall pick, which teams deserve that luck?
We ranked all 14 lottery teams to find the answer:
Kyle TeradaKyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports
Sacramento Kings: 0 percent chance at the first overall pick
The Kings can’t land the first pick because the 76ers have the right to swap first-round picks with them this year. They do boast a 2.4 percent chance of landing a top-three pick, though — something they would deserve after making the bold decision to trade away Boogie Cousins for next-to-nothing. The ping-pong balls should smile upon their aggressiveness, but alas, bad general managing will trump luck every time.
Mark ZerofMark Zerof-USA TODAY Sports
New Orleans Pelicans: 1.1 percent chance
The Pelicans already landed Cousins for next to nothing (and didn’t make the playoffs). Combine a player like that with Anthony Davis and you should have more than what you need to land the No. 8 seed in the Western Conference. Beyond that, if the Pelicans land in the top three, they don’t have to send a pick to the Kings — that’s not fair.
Derick E. HingleDerick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports
Minnesota Timberwolves: 5.3 percent chance
The Timberwolves already have two recent No. 1 picks on their roster. A third No. 1 pick would likely be used to pick a point guard (Markelle Fultz), which is a position of relative need for the team because of their flop pick of Kris Dunn. Giving the Timberwolves the No. 1 pick would be a clear sign that the universe (or the league) wants to undercut the established powers in the Western Conference. Is that a terrible thing? Not at all. But the NBA doesn’t have to be so obvious about it. The Wolves have the talent already — they’ll get there eventually.
Kirby LeeKirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
New York Knicks: 5.3 percent chance
You can’t give the Knicks anything beautiful — they’d ruin it.
Brad PennerBrad Penner-USA TODAY Sports
Charlotte Hornets: 0.8 percent chance
The Hornets don’t need a point guard like Fultz — they have the somehow still underrated Kemba Walker. So while a high draft pick would be a nice way for them to get back into the postseason after a big regression last year, they should not land the No. 1 overall pick. A top-10 pick in a deep draft would be totally acceptable though.
Jeremy BrevardJeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports
Detroit Pistons: 0.7 percent chance
We don’t need anything getting in the way of the Andre Drummond slander tour of 2017-18. Landing Fultz (or Ball) would bring about the end of the Reggie Jackson era and bring optimism back to a Detroit team that has stalled out. These are reasons against the Pistons landing the first pick — it’s their own fault they’re in the lottery this year.
Kim KlementKim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
Los Angeles Lakers: 15.6 percent chance
The Lakers have lucked out for the last two years, keeping their protected first-round picks (top three) to select D’Angelo Russell and Brandon Ingram at No. 2 in back-to-back years. If they fall out of the top three this season, they lose that first-round pick outright. While that might be extreme to wish a bad team fails to land a first-round pick, the Lakers have been pretending as if they’re guaranteed to get a pick that will select Lonzo Ball — when in fact they have a less than 50 percent chance at a top-three pick and a less than 1-in-3 chance of landing one of the top two picks, which would presumably put them in position to draft the UCLA product. That said, they did some reverse tanking at the end of the season, winning five of their last six games for no logical reason — they might deserve a break because of that.
Determination: Let them have the No. 3 pick — they don’t lose their first-round pick, but they don’t get their guy.
Nelson ChenaultNelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports
Orlando Magic: 8.8 percent chance
The Magic could really, really use a star, but landing the first overall pick could pose some serious problems to the team’s new general manager — whoever that might be.
The team already has a point guard in Elfrid Payton — whether he’s worth considering a franchise cornerstone is worthy of exploration, but he’s one of the team’s best players for now — and the team doesn’t need any more “hybrids” who can’t shoot, which takes out Josh Jackson from consideration. Essentially, the logical pick for the Magic, if they have a high selection, is Jayson Tatum — they don’t need No. 1 to pick him, so they shouldn’t land it.
Kim KlementKim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
Denver Nuggets: 0.6 percent chance
The Nuggets are going for it, and they are pretty exciting to watch with the emergence of Nikola Jokic. The Nuggets have never selected No. 1 or No. 2 in the NBA Draft, either — there’s a lot going for them in terms of karma. On the flip side, the Nuggets saw Jokic go from the 41st overall pick into a fringe All-NBA caliber player, look to have a nice core with Jamal Murray and Gary Harris, and they haven’t come close to uncapping Emmanuel Mudiay’s potential. The Nuggets don’t need to cash in any chips this year with two point guards at the top of the draft, but a top-five selection could go a long way for this team.
Back-to-back No. 1 picks? It’s not too ridiculous — the Sixers’ luck hasn’t evened out after The Process didn’t bear fruit during Sam Hinkie’s era of employment in Philadelphia.
Add in the injuries to Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid (at what point are we going to look at the Sixers for some culpability there?) and you can make the case that Philadelphia is deserving of a player like Fultz.
That said, Philly already has their star in Embiid and perhaps two if Simmons develops. Do they really need another No. 1 pick to eventually be competitive? Is there any part of The Process that shares the wealth?
Mark J. RebilasMark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
Miami Heat: 0.5 percent chance
The Heat picked up a bad hand this year. Dwyane Wade, scorned by Pat Riley’s perceived ambivalence and lack of loyalty, bolted for Chicago, ending one of the great one-team careers in recent NBA history, the team didn’t see Chris Bosh return to the court, their dream of landing a big-time free agent in this year or next, like Russell Westbrook, appears to be dashed, and then after a totally improbable run towards the postseason, they saw the Nets rest all of their players on the final day of the season (for what?), handing the Bulls the win they needed to secure the No. 8 seed over Miami.
Adding a young star to the mix in Miami would be great for the league, as it would create another competitor to LeBron and Cleveland in the near future and that star is unlikely to come via free agency. Miami could really use a top 3 pick, but at 1.8 percent chance of landing one of those, there’s probably not enough karma in the world to overcome those odds. The team is still paying off those four glorious LeBron James years (and will for the next half decade at least).
Steve MitchellSteve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports
Boston Celtics: 25 percent chance
This is a tough one because the Celtics are in the Eastern Conference Finals and have already reaped plenty of benefit from one of the most lopsided trades in NBA history — adding the No. 1 overall pick would be overkill, right?
But who else in the Eastern Conference is going to take down LeBron?
There would be a beauty to the Celtics getting the No. 1 overall pick because it would add intrigue to an Eastern Conference race that was sandbagged by the Cavs this season without remorse or repercussion.
That said, should the Celtics be rewarded for holding onto assets that could have been used to trade for Jimmy Butler or Paul George — players that could have made this year’s Eastern Conference interesting? Giving the Celtics the No. 1 overall pick and a young point guard would just reward the team for deciding LeBron was too hard to beat this season.
This is a tough one to call — it’s the Rorschach Test of the lottery. Ultimately, the chaos that could come from Boston landing Fultz (or Ball, or Tatum) and perhaps a big-time free agent this summer (Gordon Hayward, anyone?) is too enticing to wish ill upon.
Let’s root for chaos.
Jason GetzJason Getz-USA TODAY Sports
Phoenix Suns: 19 percent chance
How much bad karma can a team bring about by unabashedly tanking for the second half of the season (save for a late-in-the-year game against the Warriors)? We’re about to find out. The Suns would be No. 1 on this list, as they need the direction a clear-cut star (or star to be) can bring and they could stand to compete for a playoff spot by 2020, but losing 15 of 16 down the stretch is a bad look. We won’t ask for a demise, but they can’t be the favorites, either. Frankly, it’s getting too sad.
Mark J. RebilasMark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
Dallas Mavericks: 1.7 percent chance
The Mavericks have a 6.1 percent chance at landing a top three pick, and that’s something we should all be rooting for Tuesday, as the Mavericks rebuilt on the fly without tanking and have a legend entering his last year who should exit with the team in an optimistic place. (The playoffs?) The Mavericks are a team that would pay to put talent around a young star too, so there’s no reason to fear that they would squander a great opportunity, either. Let the Mavs have this one — it’s good for the league.