The day the 14 teams that didn’t make the NBA Playoffs have been waiting for has arrived.
On Tuesday, the league will hold its annual lottery to determine the order of the top 14 picks in the 2022 NBA Draft, which will take place on June 23.
Having finished the season with the three worst records, the Rockets, Magic and Pistons each have a 14.0 percent chance of coming away with the top pick in the draft. Following them, the Thunder (12.5 percent) and Pacers (10.5 percent) have the best odds of earning the top spot.
Each of the 14 teams involved is hoping to earn the No. 1 pick, but that’s not the night’s only interesting storyline.
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Who’s going to be the No. 1 pick at the 2022 NBA Draft?
Three players are considered to be in the running for the No. 1 pick in this year’s draft.
Chet Holmgren: He averaged 14.1 points, 9.9 rebounds and 3.7 blocks per game on 60.7 percent shooting from the field and 39.0 percent from 3-point range in his only season at Gonzaga. There are concerns about how his size will translate to the NBA as a 7-footer who weighs a slight 195 pounds, but he’s one of the most unique prospects we’ve seen in a long time.
Paolo Banchero: He proved to be an explosive scorer during his freshman season at Duke, pouring in 17.2 points per game on 47.8 percent shooting from the field. TSN’s Kyle Irving had him in the No. 1 spot in both his most recent big board and mock draft, calling him the “most NBA-ready prospect in this class.”
Jabari Smith Jr .: A 6-10 forward who averaged a near double-double (16.9 points, 7.4 rebounds) as a freshman at Auburn while connecting on 42.0 percent of his 3-point attempts, he’s the type of frontcourt player every team is looking to add.
The icing on the cake? Smith only turned 19 last week, making him one of the youngest players in this class.
Unlike recent drafts, there is not a clear-cut No. 1 pick. Which prospect is selected first could ultimately come down to which team wins the lottery.
Where the Lakers’ 2022 NBA Draft pick falls
There is one particularly interesting team to watch in the lottery.
After finishing the season with a 33-49 record, putting them on the outside looking in on the Play-In Tournament, the Lakers have a 26.2 percent chance of landing a top-four pick in the 2022 NBA Draft. The kicker is they won’t actually make the selection.
The pick has changed hands multiple times at this point, but all you need to know is the Pelicans will be choosing in the Lakers’ place. That’s a big deal for New Orleans.
The Pelicans got off to a slow start this season, but they ended up defeating the Clippers in the second round of the Play-In Tournament to earn the No. 8 seed in the Western Conference. While they lost to the Suns in six games in the opening round, they proved themselves to be a team on the rise, led by Brandon Ingram, CJ McCollum and (hopefully healthy) Zion Williamson.
The Pelicans will now get an opportunity to add another prospect to their core or package the pick to go after someone else. The most likely outcome is they pick at No. 8, but teams with much worse odds have won the lottery before.
Trail Blazers picking up the pieces
Speaking of seasons that didn’t go according to plan, the Trail Blazers saw their streak of eight straight postseason appearances come to an end. They finished with 27 wins, the franchise’s fewest since 2005-06.
The good news? Only five teams have better odds than Portland at getting the No. 1 pick in the 2022 NBA Draft.
|Team||No. 1 pick odds|
The difference with the Trail Blazers and the teams ahead of them is they have a decent chance of making some noise next season. Granted, they have quite the path to get there.
Not only do they have to nail this pick, but they have to make the most of their newfound cap space and Damian Lillard needs to return to an All-NBA level after he underwent surgery to address a lingering abdominal injury.
That’s a lot of pressure on Portland’s front office, but where the Trail Blazers land in the lottery could set the tone for what is shaping up to be a jam-packed offseason.
The Thunder’s rebuild continues
There’s already plenty to be excited about in Oklahoma City.
When he has played over the last couple of seasons, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander has looked the part of a star, averaging 24.2 points, 5.9 assists and 4.9 rebounds per game. The No. 6 pick in the 2021 NBA Draft, Josh Giddey is coming off a standout rookie season that saw him flirt with a triple-double on most nights.
Additionally, Luguentz Dort has quickly risen up the ranks of the league’s most feared perimeter defenders, Tre Mann flashed some intriguing scoring chops in his rookie season and it’s hard not to get lost in the world of Aleksej Pokusevski, raw as he still is.
Now, the Thunder will add even more top-end talent. They have their own first-round pick, which has a 12.5 percent chance of rising to No. 1 and a 48.1 percent chance of being in the top four. They also own the Clippers’ pick, which has an 86.1 percent chance of being No. 12.
Oh, and there’s more. The Thunder own the No. 30 pick and No. 34 picks, bringing their total to four picks in the 2022 NBA Draft (three in the first round, one in the second).
The Thunder are probably still a few years away from sniffing the postseason, but the rebuild is on the right track.