This season may already be done for 14 of the NBA’s teams already, but tonight hope is restored as the 2016 Draft Lottery selection is here. As most know, the lottery system consists of all the non-playoff teams having a certain amount of ping pong balls in a bucket, the worse the record the more balls that team has in the bucket furthering their chance to get the number 1 selection. This year, Philadelphia owns the worst record, thus the best chance (25%) to land the number one pick. Following them is the Los Angeles Lakers (19.9%), the Boston Celtics (15.6%), and then the Phoenix Suns (11.9%). After these top 4 teams, the rest of the franchises have less than a 10% chance of landing the top spot. Like I wrote in a piece earlier this month, this draft has a lot of solid players with exceptional skill, but it is definitely headlined by Ben Simmons and Brandon Ingram. Scouts and experts go back and forth on who they would take with the number one spot, but if the team that you root for lands either one of the top two picks, know that you are getting the cream-of-the-crop in the draft.
Let’s take a look at some scenarios for these top 4 teams if the lottery went as they hope it goes. First, for Philadelphia: Man, if you are a 76ers fan I am hoping for your sake that you get the first pick. After an almost record-shattering poor season going 10-72 Philly needs all they can get. They do have 3 centers (Embiid, Noel, Okafor) that can be the building blocks to your team moving forward, so if I were in management the pick would be Ingram. The long and athletic Duke star that showed ability all over the floor would be a good compliment to the bigs that are already in place. Next, for Los Angeles: I believe that Simmons would be the better fit. L.A. is the land of stars.
You got Hollywood, and it is home of more celebrities than you can even count. A perfect place for a kid who has been on magazine covers since he was 17 being hyped up when he was still in Australia. On the floor Simmons would be a third lefty to go along with a young and promising core of southpaws that are already there in D’Angelo Russell and Julius Randle. Ben Simmons has a more refined game than Randle in the sense of being able to snatch a rebound and start the break himself, and if he's playing the Center position, that can cause nightmares on the defensive end for opponents. Then, we have the Boston Celtics. Boston is in need of a big name with “superstar” type characteristics, which is why I think Ben Simmons would be the better pick. Kelly Olynyk has done a formidable job as Boston’s big man, however doesn’t bang down low enough for them to truly rely on him moving forward. With Sullinger and Turner, as well as all of their guards that they continue to bring in and draft, having Simmons to put down low to confidently take on other Centers of other teams would be much-needed. Lastly, come the Phoenix Suns.
The Suns brought in Tyson Chandler to bring a veteran presence in the paint last season, and to mature Alex Len who they drafted just a couple years back which is why I think Ingram would be the better fit here. The Suns have been one of the more prolific offenses in the league for many seasons now, but their inability to guard other teams top players due to the small size in their guards (Bledsoe and Brandon Knight under 6’3) has made them an irrelevant team for a while now. With their addition of Devin Booker to bring a 6’6 wing with a defensive mindset and a talent behind the arc, that should be a “light bulb” moment for Suns management. You continue to develop Len, and you have Tyson Chandler to suffice on his off nights, and you have an athletic guard combo in place. Brandon Ingram would fit in beautifully.
To all you fans out there that continue to stand by your under-achieving squads year in and year out, I wish you luck. Tonight is the night that all your hopes are high with the mindset that this is your year. We have seen it happen that the lowest odds of getting the top spot ends up getting the pick, and we also have seen the straight up odds before the lottery holding true. Regardless of what happens, this is the first night where you can begin to look forward to next season knowing where your team stands in the draft.