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Everything You Need to Know About the NBA Draft Lottery Tonight; Best Fits for Lottery Teams

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I’m a sucker for the NBA Draft Lottery. I love everything about it. Is it the most logical set up in terms of what the Draft is supposed to do? No. But, it’s a spectacle and allow for conspiracy theories, which I’m very here for – hello, Frozen Envelope in 1985. Tonight we get to watch it all again starting at 8pm.

Here’s a cheat sheet for everything you’ll need to know for tonight. First off, the teams that are in the lottery and their odds of getting the No. 1 pick:

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Trades that are affecting the picks: 

The obvious one here is the Nets/Celtics swap. It was one of the worst trades these eyes have ever seen and that includes some of the shit I’ve seen the Knicks pull. The Nets sacrificed their future for an aged Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Jason Terry. It cost them the No. 3 pick last season and this year will cost them another top-4 pick. It doesn’t matter where the Celtics end up as they’ll keep the pick and get a great player in a strong draft.

The Lakers could lose their top pick here. If their pick falls outside of the top-3, the 76ers get it. This pick stems from a couple of trades, starting with the Lakers sending the 1st round pick to the Suns for Steve Nash, who then traded the same pick to the Sixers. Odds of them falling out of the top-3 right now are 53.1%. Trust the process, I guess?

Oh, look. The Sixers have another scenario thanks to a trade. This time it was due to Nik Stauskas and a possible pick swap. The Kings and Sixers will swap picks unless the Sixers land at No. 1, which would obviously leave the Kings wherever they are. The Sixers will get the better of the two picks.

The last notable trade that will play a role in this lottery is the DeMarcus Cousins trade from earlier in the year. If the Pelicans land in the top-3 (a 4% chance) they get to keep the pick. If they don’t, that pick goes to the Kings.

Who Will be Representing Each Team: 

We have a good mix here of former players, front office guys, coaches and current players. I always enjoy when there’s someone random or a blast from the past representing a team, so shout out to Michael Finley sitting there for Dallas. Although, I think we can all agree the star of this show will be whatever absurd and awesome suit Walt Frazier breaks out for it. If you’re a Knicks fan and/or follow Clem you see the ridiculous suits he wears to call Knicks games. Throw him on the main stage here and I fully expect a ping pong ball suit. At this point we should also keep an eye on how many lotteries in a row Joel Embiid attends.

Best Fit for Each Team: 

Boston Celtics – Markelle Fultz (Washington) – Fultz is the best player available and allows the Celtics a little bit of flexibility. If they don’t want to max Isaiah, you have a guy in Fultz who can take over the starting PG role after a year. Maybe they let Bradley walk after next season and go with Fultz and Thomas. There’s not a big that’s going to be worth taking in the top-4, so that’s out of the question and it just means do you want another wing like Tatum or Jackson or take best player available. For a team that is building both now and for the future, it makes sense.

Phoenix Suns – Josh Jackson (Kansas) – The Suns are set at the guard position as of right now with Eric Bledsoe and Devin Booker. Both are more high-usage guards and they need someone to play that other wing spot or play the four if the Suns want to go small ball. They took a couple bigs last year in Bender and Chriss so it makes sense to go with a wing this year. I like Jackson more than Tatum with the Suns, strictly because Jackson can do more without the ball than Tatum.

Los Angeles Lakers – De’Aaron Fox (Kentucky) – The Lakers are one of the faster tempo teams in the NBA. They want to get up and down, as they ranked in the top-10 in possessions per game this past season. Fox is the fastest guard in the Draft and can slide D’Angelo Russell to the off ball spot. Putting him in the up and down game fits his game the best as we saw him towards end of the season take over games with his speed and attacking the rim. Letting him and Julius Randle play the high ball screen game will be highly entertaining.

Philadelphia 76ers – Dennis Smith Jr. (NC State) – Yes, I know there are talks about making Ben Simmons the primary point guard, but we don’t know how true that is and how healthy Simmons will be. So, take a fall back option here with Smith. While Ball is the better player, Smith fits the Sixers style of play better, especially with his ability to create off of screens. He was an excellent passer despite having a roster around him that didn’t play to his strengths. The lane was typically clogged and he had to navigate with defenses zoning in on him.

Orlando Magic – Jayson Tatum (Duke) – The Magic are in desperate need of someone who can be the go-to guy. They simply don’t have that as guys like Aaron Gordon, Terrence Ross and Evan Fournier all struggle to create their own shot. Tatum is excellent at that. Can he be a little bit of a ball stopper? Yes. But, he’s also one of the best guys in this Draft at creating shots for himself. We saw him take over games while at Duke and can play both in the post and the wing.

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Minnesota Timberwolves – Malik Monk (Kentucky) – The Wolves fell in love with Kris Dunn’s defensive ability last year in the Draft and it sort of cost them as they didn’t fill a need. They need to find a shooting guard, especially if LaVine isn’t the same after his injury, and another four so you can slide Towns to the five spot. To me it makes all the sense in the world to take Monk and add another shooter to this roster as you can completely space the floor with Rubio, Monk, Wiggins and Towns out there. That leaves driving spaces open for Rubio and Wiggins or the post open for Towns to go to work.

New York Knicks – Lonzo Ball (UCLA) – Will Lonzo fall this far? Absolutely not, but he’s the best fit if the Knicks are going to run the goddamn triangle offense. Ball, while it’s unorthodox and very Kevin Martin-esque, was effective shooting the ball from the 3-point line. We know he’s a great passer and can play in multiple settings. If the Knicks are going to run the triangle offense, he’s the point guard that fits that the best.

Sacramento Kings – Frank Ntilikina (France) – The Kings may have found some nice young players last year in Buddy Hield (via trade) and Skal (via draft) as they started to show off a little bit after the DeMarcus Cousins trade. The one thing they need now though is a point guard to play with them. Look at the roster. There’s not a point guard on there that makes you feel great. Take a point guard here and you possibly have a trio to build around for the future.

Dallas Mavericks – Lauri Markannen (Arizona) – We’ve seen Rick Carlisle be quite successful with a 7-footer, who is an excellent shooter. Think Lauri learning for a year under Dirk would do him good? He’ll draw comparisons for obvious reasons, but style wise Lauri would be an easy fit for the Mavericks. If Noel stays with Dallas, you have your frontcourt set for the next five years or so, as Noel can protect the rim and play inside with Lauri stretching the floor.

New Orleans Pelicans (really the Kings as they have a 96% chance of the pick)- Jonathan Isaac (Florida State) – If Rudy Gay walks, this gives you a wing that you can play right off the bat. Isaac showed out at weakside rim protection while also being able to stretch the floor. You can play him with Willie Cauley-Stein and/or Skal depending on what you want to do with your roster.

Charlotte Hornets – Zach Collins (Gonzaga) – Collins is the most polished big man in this Draft as he has the ability to stretch the floor, protect the rim and has a wide array of post moves. We saw him play at his best in the Final Four as he put up 14/13/6 against South Carolina. You can play him at either the 4 or 5 spot in the NBA, as he does have experience playing with a traditional post player at Gonzaga. The Hornets do need some frontcourt help as well.

Detroit Pistons – Terrence Ferugson (Australia) – The Pistons need someone who can fit their style of play defensively while also get buckets. To me it’s deciding between Ferguson/Justin Jackson/Donovan Mitchell. I like all three guys, but Ferguson is an elite athlete and a strong defender. He was a good shooter playing in the NBDL in Australia this past season and can step in and keep the Pistons in the top-8 defensively where they were this past season.

Denver Nuggets – John Collins (Wake Forest) – There’s a good chance the Nuggets take a big here, the question is just which one do you think fits the best. Collins is someone who will come in and score right away, but will need help developing defensively. That’s something the Nuggets can take care of. Not to mention he apparently became a knock down shooter during drills (granted no one was guarding him, it’s still just nice to hear).

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Miami Heat – Donovan Mitchell (Louisville) – A combo guard, who is better suited to play off the ball while being a great defender is something the Heat will look to take here. If we had a better idea of OG’s rehab from injury, I’d say he’s the best fit, but with that unknown, Mitchell makes a ton of sense for Miami. If Mitchell shoots the ball the way he did over the last 1/2 of the season, you can slide him next to Dragic or Tyler Johnson.