The NBA held its annual draft lottery last night. As usual, it was made more of a spectacle than necessary but was eventful nonetheless.
The night was capped with the Orlando Magic jumping up and securing the number one overall pick. Orlando, lottery-bound for much of the last decade, has been given the opportunity to select their next franchise cornerstone. Overall, there was not much movement, but there were certainly winners, losers, and so much more. Which franchises took the next steps towards returning to the NBA mountain top?
Winners: Oklahoma City Thunder
They called Sam Presti a mad man, and he might be. However, finally getting the lottery odds in their favor might make it all worth it. The Thunder have seventeen first-round picks in the next five drafts, but this one might be the most important. The Thunder have been chasing a big man for well over a year to pair with Shai Gilgeous-Alexander. Oklahoma City missed out on Evan Mobely last year and now has the ability to take one of Chet Holmgren, Jabari Smith Jr, or Paolo Banchero. Gilgeuos-Alexander and second-year guard Josh Giddey, who was the consolation prize of the 2021 draft for the Thunder would greatly appreciate someone to throw their magnificent passes to in 2023.
Losers: Detroit Pistons
The Detroit Pistons won the 2021 NBA draft lottery, rewarding them with their tall and talented point guard of the future: Cade Cunningham. Similar to the Thunder, Detroit would love to pair their guard with a talented forward or center, but the lottery had other plans. The Pistons pick fell to five. That likely means they will not be able to land one of the premier big men. The next crop of players are less useful to Detroit and harder to build a path for. It was simple when it was a big man. Pairing a guard like Jaden Ivey is going to be much more difficult.
Lost opportunity: Portland Trail Blazers
This was a golden opportunity for the Portland Trail Blazers. With Damian Lillard coming back, they will not have this large of a chance at a top-four pick for the next few seasons. However, with no path to find him a suitable running mate, they will continue to be in NBA purgatory for years to come. The look on Lillard’s face expressed a similar sentiment.