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THE LOTTERY
June 23, 2014

By Anthony J. Fredella

NEW YORK, New York - ​​​​Since we're only a few days away from the 2014 NBA Draft, why not take a look at how this year's lottery will play out. Hyped as one of the most talented, deepest drafts of the last 20 years, this year's class can most certainly produce more than a handful of future NBA All Stars. It may even produce a Hall of Famer or two, that's how much talent and potential is available.

Things were a little shaken up this past week when Joel Embiid's agent announced that the young big man out of Kansas had fractured a bone in his right foot. The other day he underwent surgery at the Southern California Orthopedic Institute to have two screws inserted into the navicular bone, and he is expected to make a full recovery in 4-6 months. How does that impact the draft? Well, for starters, it appeared as if the Cleveland Cavaliers, who hold the 1st pick in the draft for the 2nd year in a row and for the 3rd time in the last 4 years, seemed poised to select the athletic post player with the top overall selection. But now, with the injury, surgery, and scheduled recovery time, the Cavs have changed their mind. The top selection may be between another Kansas freshman, Andrew Wiggins, and the Duke super frosh, Jabari Parker. Moving one of those guys up to the top spot will obviously affect the next few selections, and so on down the draft. The next questions is then, how far down does Embiid slip? Remember, last season the Cavs passed on Kentucky's Nerlens Noel - regrettably, and selected Anthony Bennett - due to Noel's knee injury and his projected recovery time. Noel, who slipped down to #6 in the draft to the New Orleans Pelicans and was subsequently traded to the Philadelphia 76ers, wound up missing the entire 2013-2014 season. Now I know Noel's injury was a knee and Embiid's is a foot, but don't think that Noel is not on the minds of NBA GM's who pick in the top 10 this year.

So how will the 2014 NBA Draft Lottery go down, you ask? Here's how:

1. Cleveland Cavaliers

The Cavs cannot afford to miss for the 2nd straight year with the top overall pick. Now given, last season's class was light on talent, but that doesn't matter for a team hoping to rebuild to a form where it once competed in the Eastern Conference. The staple of the franchise right now is PG Kyrie Irving. Other than him, the Cavs can use help at every other position. PF Tristan Thompson started all 82 games last season and SG Dion Waiters has shown a few glimpses of talented play. With that being said, the Cavs can use help in the middle and at the small forward position, and desperately need a legitimate three pointer shooter.

Options: Andrew Wiggins (Kansas), Jabari Parker (Duke), Joel Embiid (Kansas)

Selection: SF Jabari Parker

The Cavs do not take the chance with Joel Embiid at #1 and, while Wiggins' upside is tremendous, Cleveland takes the more ready pro in Jabari Parker. A talented swingman that can do just about everything on the floor, Parker can start at SF from the opening tip of the first game of the season. A big body at 6'8" & 241 lbs, Parker will add much needed rebounding from the small forward position to go along with his ability to put the ball in the basket from anywhere on the floor. After naming David Blatt of Maccabi Tel Aviv as their new head coach, the Cavs are looking for instant contribution and gratification from their top selection. That's where Parker comes in and teams with Irving to become a potential deadly duo in the Central Division.


2. Milwaukee Bucks

The Bucks ended last season with the worst record in the NBA at 15-67. With just 15 W's throughout the course of an entire season, it's hard to say that Milwaukee cannot use help at each and every position. With that being the case, the Bucks are just looking to take the best available basketball player when their selection comes up.

Options: Andrew Wiggins (Kansas), Joel Embiid (Kansas), Dante Exum (Australia), Marcus Smart (Oklahoma State), Noah Vonleh (Indiana)

Selection: SF Andrew Wiggins

The Embiid injury should not affect how the Bucks are going to draft because they have been looking at Andrew Wiggins from the very beginning. The 6'8", 200 lbs small forward was all the talk before last year's college hoops season, garnering comparisons, unfairly, to LeBron James as "the next coming." He didn't quite live up to that hype because, realistically, no one could have. But that does not mean that Andrew Wiggins is not a special, special talent. Another all-everything small forward, Wiggins brings an incomparable level of athleticism to the league. The knock on him has been his tendency to blend in during certain games and his inability to create his own shot. Both of those "weaknesses" should cure themselves as Wiggins' game develops. Remember, he's only a 19 year old who re-classified into the Class of 2013 to get to Kansas early. He could have still played in high school last season. He has the ability to handle the ball, slash to the basket, distribute and knock down the outside jumper - just not consistently. His game thrives in transition and he loves to play above the rim, but Andrew Wiggins is not the final answer for Milwaukee. A lot of pieces are still needed, but if Wiggins develops into the pro that he is capable of becoming, he can, down the road, be the building block to a playoff contending team.


3. Philadelphia 76ers

With just 17 wins last season, the Philadelphia 76ers were accused of "tanking" towards the end of the season, enduring an unbearable 26-game losing streak. But there was a bright side - rookie PG Michael Carter-Williams was named the NBA's Rookie of the Year after a season in which he averaged 16.7 ppg, 6.2 rpg, 6.3 apg and 1.9 spg. MCW, along with PF Thaddeus Young, were the only bright spots from an otherwise dark season. The Sixers traded away their best player, SF Evan Turner, in the middle of the season and their overall top draft pick, Nerlens Noel, sat out the entire year rehabbing his injured knee. Philly hopes to have Noel in uniform to start off the 2014-2015 campaign, but he's still a raw talent that will need time to develop into an NBA player. So, Philly could still use a solid interior player, a shooting guard and a small forward. If for some reason Parker or Wiggins are still there at #3, the Sixers will scoop either one of them up. But if not, the Sixers will look to fill one of the other voids.

Options: Dante Exum (Australia), Joel Embiid (Kansas), Julius Randle (Kentucky), Noah Vonleh (Indiana), Aaron Gordon (Arizona)

Selection: PG/SG Dante Exum

The Sixers traded away a young star guard in Jrue Holiday in order to obtain the rights to Nerlens Noel. Upper management envisions an interior that someday will feature Young banging on the inside and Noel blocking every shot in sight. They're invested in Nerlens Noel and they believe in Nerlens Noel. That's why they pass on Embiid here and take the 6'6" combo-guard out of Australia. Dante Exum is, for most average fans, the mystery prospect of the draft. You've probably read a lot about him, you've probably seen some YouTube videos, but you really haven't seen him actually play. Exum can play either guard position and would be an outstanding compliment to Carter-Williams in the backcourt. In fact, if the two worked out together, they would form the biggest, most versatile backcourt in the league. The Sixers are building toward the future, with an eye at competing for an Atlantic Division crown in a couple of years. Picking Exum here, they believe, adds another talented, big guard that can handle, defend and get to the basket.


4. Orlando Magic

The Orlando Magic are another team picking early in the draft that could use help at almost every position, so it's a good thing that they have two of the first twelve picks. With their top player from a year ago, SG Arron Afflalo, rumored to be on the trading block, the Magic are a team looking down the road to the future. Last year's #2 overall selection, PG/SG Victor Oladipo, faired well for Orlando in his first season teaming with Afflalo and veteran PG Jameer Nelson in the backcourt. But the Magic are a long ways away from being respectable. Oladipo, at 6'2", had to adjust to playing the point, where he struggled at times and Nelson is getting old. Afflalo was certainly a bright light (18.2 ppg), but upper management knows that he is not the guy to build around.

Options: Joel Embiid (Kansas), Marcus Smart (Oklahoma State), Julius Randle (Kentucky), Noah Vonleh (Indiana), Aaron Gordon (Arizona), Dario Saric (Croatia)

Selection: C Joel Embiid

Orlando gets away with a robbery taking Embiid with the 4th overall selection. The Magic know that next year is not going to amount to much so, if Embiid misses some, or all, of the season, it won’t really have that much of an affect on what they are trying to do. Embiid brings a smooth combination of size and athleticism that is not seen that often. Add in to the mix the fact that he is still learning the game – which makes his upside that much greater - and you get the player in the draft with probably the most potential down the line. The Magic envision building a franchise around Joel Embiid.