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Lottery Time: Find out who picks where so we can speculate who will pick whom
As far as entertainment television goes, you’d have to be pretty die-hard to be psyched about tuning in to tonight’s NBA Draft Lottery selection special.
But I’m guessing some of you are. And so am I, so here’s the skinny.
At 7 tonight, about 30 minutes prior to tipoff of Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Finals between Paul Pierce’s Boston Celtics and Dwight Howard’s Orlando Magic, 14 NBA executives will lock themselves in a room and await the bounce of the ping pong ball.
After months of speculation about what teams will pick where and, furthermore, which players those teams will take, we’ll have a picture of the upcoming NBA Draft (June 24) that’s a little more clear.
This should be especially interesting for KU fans, considering the fact that former Jayhawks very well could take up 2 of the 14 spots in this year’s lottery when the picks are made.
Junior center Cole Aldrich is almost certain to be a lottery pick. For months now — perhaps even years — Aldrich has been ranked in mock drafts across the web anywhere from No. 5 overall to No. 13. Very few mock drafts, if any, have had Aldrich out of the lottery.
Freshman forward Xavier Henry’s another story altogether, but the odds are good that he, too, could be taken in the draft’s first 14 selections. Henry, although still unpolished, showed enough during his only season at Kansas to wow NBA scouts. For starters, Henry’s got a sweet stroke from distance and an NBA-ready body that most players under the age of 20 just don’t have. There’s still plenty of work to be done here, with ball-handling, aggressiveness and creating his own shot among the top of the list of areas he needs to work on. But of the 30 NBA teams out there, at least half — and probably more — would gladly take Henry on their team and watch him develop those skills on their dime.
Senior point guard Sherron Collins is the only other Jayhawk eligible for this year’s draft but the chances of John Calipari staying at Kentucky for the rest of his career are greater than Collins cracking the lottery. Collins, it seems, will be a late-first or second-round selection.
So, with the stage set, here’s a look at some of the interesting facts about tonight’s lottery, which, in no small way, will determine the NBA futures of Aldrich and Henry.
• With a 12-70 record, the New Jersey Nets will have the most ping pong balls in the hopper, giving Jay Z’s squad the greatest percentage chance of landing the top pick. We all know that the team with the best odds, however, doesn’t always get the top pick. If you’re looking for a team that’s sweating right now, it’s the Nets. Because there’s only one outcome that can make tonight’s lottery draw a good one for the guys from Jersey.
• At 15-67, Minnesota has the second most ping pong balls in play tonight and the T’Wolves have a 39 percent chance of finishing in the No. 1 or No. 2 spots. Anything lower than that will probably be disappointing for the folks from Aldrich’s home state, but maybe not for Cole. After all, the further the Wolves fall down in the draft order the more likely it becomes that they would take Aldrich.
• Speaking of the T’Wolves, should they land the No. 1 overall pick, expect them to trade it. Last year the Wolves made noise in the draft by selecting three point guards — Spain’s Ricky Rubio, Syracuse’s Jonny Flynn and North Carolina’s Ty Lawson. They eventually traded Lawson to the Nuggets, but should Minnesota land the No. 1 overall pick, could they really take another point guard? If they stay in the pick, they’d probably have to because Kentucky’s John Wall has been the consensus No. 1 overall pick for months.
• Teams with former Jayhawks already in place who will be paying attention to tonight’s draw include: Memphis (Darrell Arthur), which likely will be in the 12-14 range; New Orleans (Julian Wright), which could crack the top 10; Indiana (Brandon Rush), which seems to be headed for the middle of the pack; and the lovable losers from L.A., the Los Angeles Clippers (Drew Gooden), who are probably thinking top-five would be a best-case scenario.
Again, it might not be the most entertaining thing on the tube tonight, but, from where I sit, I can’t imagine a much better TV evening than NBA Draft Lottery at 7 p.m. followed by Game 2 from Orlando, where Pierce’s Celtics look to take a 2-0 lead on the defending Eastern Conference champions.
Get some takeout and get comfortable.