NBA draft lottery: winners and losers

NBA draft lottery: winners and losers

Published May. 18, 2011 4:01 p.m. ET

A quick breakdown of the NBA draft lottery:

• Winners

1. Cleveland Cavaliers

The first overall pick and two selections in the top four was more than the Cavs dreamed of. In fact, after the year they had, most in the organization secretly expected the worst — which would have been the Cavs falling to fifth with their own pick and 11th with the one from the Los Angeles Clippers. Instead, the organization gets to begin an exciting new chapter, and it gets to start right here, right now.

2. Cleveland fans

In the past year alone, these poor folks had to suffer through a homegrown superstar basically telling them even HE didn’t think they were good enough, as well as sarcastic tweets from the said superstar, snide articles from the national media and a 26-game losing streak. But today, they can feel great about their organization and themselves. So great, in fact, maybe they won’t even care if LeBron wins a title with his new team. On second thought, yeah, they’ll still care. But if he does, it won’t have to bother them nearly as much.

3. Minnesota Timberwolves

Despite all the whining by general manager David Kahn, the Timberwolves were expected to take Arizona forward Derrick Williams had they won the lottery. Instead, they will draft second. But since the Cavs are likely to take Duke guard Kyrie Irving first, the Wolves will still get their man in Williams. So maybe Kahn should’ve just kept his mouth shut and avoided what might draw him a fine.

4. Utah Jazz

Got rid of Deron Williams, who pretty much ran one of the most respected coaches in NBA history out of town, and landed the third pick in the draft (from New Jersey) to do it. The draft pick also finalized a trade that sent guard Devin Harris and promising forward Derrick Favors to the Jazz. And now the Jazz get their pick between Enes Kanteer, Brandon Knight and several others, too? You don’t need Charlie Sheen to tell you these guys are winning.

5. Cavs owner Dan Gilbert

The man just seems to be surrounded by luck — either really good, or really bad. Bad? Uh, there’s no need to get into all that again (see, “Decision Show,” July 2010). Good? Well, consider the amount of money he made by founding an online mortgage firm. Now, the Eastern Conference's more sane version of Mark Cuban has reason to pound his chest again. And, you know what? Good for him.

• Losers

1. Los Angeles Clippers

Traded the first overall pick and Baron Davis for Mo Williams and Jamario Moon. Seriously, though. Who would have expected the No. 8 pick to win the lottery with a 2.9 percent chance? The answer is anyone who knows the Clippers and their string of lousy luck. Just goes to show that if there's one thing that exceeds even the Mistake by The Lake, it’s the Curse of the Clips.

2. Toronto Raptors

Not nearly enough is being made about how this franchise also lost its star player to free agency last summer, then was bumped out of the top three in the lottery this year. That means the Raptors will probably get to draft yet another international player who no one knows and who probably can’t play. On the bright side, the Raptors should be able to find someone who turns into the next Andrea Bargnani, and they drafted Bargnani at No. 1.

3. Cavs haters

Yeah, they’re out there. For whatever reason, opposing fans, the national media and even Dick Vitale have chastised Cavs supporters for their loathing of LeBron James. Will Irving and the No. 4 pick combine to form The Next LeBron? Not likely. But that’s OK. With two lottery picks, a huge trade exception and plenty of assets on the current roster, the Cavs won’t be so easy to pick on anymore — and probably won’t be for some time.

4. Draft prospects

All anyone keeps talking about is how this draft “isn’t deep” or lacks a “franchise-altering talent.” But since guys like Kobe Bryant seem to come along once every seven years, the real way to build a competitive team quickly is the method exhibited by the likes of San Antonio and Oklahoma City: Drafting a really good player with a top-two pick and then stealing a few more in the later rounds, without worrying when the next Kobe might come along. This draft class can go as long way in proving that theory.

5. LeBron James

He still can win his first championship with Miami this season, but for some reason, he continues to answer questions and talk about Cleveland. (He now says he’s happy the Cavs won the lottery.) But if the Cavs really do somehow surpass Miami within the next few years, as Gilbert once boldly predicted, LeBron will go down in basketball infamy. Mostly, this gives Cavs fans reason to forget all about James and embrace a new hero. And that is probably the ultimate dig.