I know, I know, we made the playoffs and don’t have any real stake in the Draft Lottery tomorrow night.
But we could.
Depending upon who does or does not win the lottery or finish in the top three, the Thunder could find themselves paired up with a dance partner for a fairly substantial trade, especially since several of the teams in the lottery are desperately in pursuit of big time free agents and could care less about adding a 6th-14th pick to their team when they believe (emphasis on the they believe part) they can land a franchise changing free agent this summer.
So with Clark’s recent PL&T article about potential trade-up partners past pick #8 in mind (seems like we’re thinking a lot of similar things lately—scary), who should you be rooting for/against to win the lottery or finish in the top three tomorrow night…
Teams to root against winning the lottery
1. New Jersey Nets
This is perhaps the biggest wild card in the draft lottery deck because, as league-wide chatter would have it, the Nets are extremely disinterested in drafting a player who is not a Top 3 pick in this draft as they are preserving as much wealth as they possibly can to attract a premier (or two) free agent(s) to Newark for the upcoming season and they do not feel that outside of those Top 3 players, the cost/value of that pick would not amount to the cost/value of acquiring multiple elite free agents.
So what does this mean for the Thunder? Well, like others have said, I just don’t see the Thunder being able to trade up above #8-#10 in the draft UNLESS a team above that range desperately wants out. In that case, all bets are off (and most of them usually are when it comes to NBA GM’s who are fearing for their jobs or crazy enough to think that drafting two ball-dominant PG’s in the Top 6 picks will be a masterful stroke of genius instead of a laughing stock for the next season…not to call anyone out specifically, of course).
So even though it would take a minor statistical miracle for the Thunder to move into the Top 5 picks (the Nets are assured of no worse than the 4th pick), just remember, it happened to the Kings last year.
Come on randomly assigned numbers and percentages!
2. Utah Jazz
Uh, for starters, the Jazz would instantly become one of the scariest teams in the league if they added Evan Turner to their backcourt. So that right there should be enough for you to root against them winning the lottery. In fact, if the reverse countdown gets to the Ninth Overall Pick and any team but the Jazz wind up on the camera, you can already pencil me in for a Tums and a “Please take Cousins” chant as I think Cousins and Sloan might end up on WWE in a Last Man Standing match.
Secondly, I’m a little more optimistic about the Jazz’s desire to move their pick, assuming they don’t win the lottery, because it really seems possible that they might keep Carlos Boozer even though they are paying Millsap $32 million to come off the bench behind him and will be flirting with the luxury tax yet again.
And if they are going to resign Boozer, they’re going to have to move some stuff around again, a la the Eric Maynor epiphany of a trade, that could once work in the Thunder’s favor. Though I do wonder if the Jazz’s front office would prefer to do a deal with another team since I’m pretty sure they don’t want to help arm a division foe with more and more weaponry to become a force/championship contender.
Then again, they did the Maynor trade so maybe the bottom line is negating that fear.
But seriously, the Jazz just can’t land a top three pick, okay?
3. Philadelphia 76ers
I’m just going to toss this on out there since I’ve heard nothing about trade chatter, but with their organization seriously overpaying for their production and their front office in a general state of disarray, I’m thinking you could talk Philly into giving up a #6 pick if you took on one or more of their awful contracts and gave up solid contributing piece(s) and both #1’s picks because this franchise desperately wants to hit the reboot button but can’t because of their current contract situation and because they don’t really have an identity to build around in the first place, which is where presenting them with multiple options comes into play.
That, and they’d have to not really be thinking straight to even make this a possibility in the first place (hello, Elton Brand deal!).
Don’t get me wrong, it would be pretty impossible for the 76ers to give up the sixth overall pick when they’d be much more inclined to move Dalembert instead and take Aldrich (which if the Thunder can’t acquire another C in free agency, I might be fine with this scenario). But there’s just something that tells me that the Sixers won’t be as in love with this pick as they might be with some known talent pieces that can help establish a new identity, multiple picks in a fairly deep draft, and, oh yeah, CAP RELIEF.
But the likelihood is low, like, 1 in a million…(go on, you know you want to finish this line).
4. Los Angeles Clippers
Just to make the bleeding stop for super-high draft picks who end up on the most disfunctional organization in all of basketball and maybe even sports (the Warriors are getting new ownership, so it’s not even close in basketball anymore). Plus, I honestly don’t want the Clippers to end up with yet another Top 3 talent that could actually make them a fairly formidable team if they can ever put it all together after overpaying Rudy Gay this summer.
In addition, that desire to make a big splash in free agency might make them susceptible to moving a #8 pick more than most teams because, well, it’s the Clippers and they really believe free agents won’t mind playing for an awful owner and in the shadow of the Lakers.
5. Memphis Grizzlies, Houston Rockets, New Orleans Hornets
Really? I mean, really?
If any of these teams win the lottery then I, I just—life’s not fair.
And odds mean nothing anymore.
And…you may hear a furious, soul-crushing and writhing in agony scream from somewhere north of Oklahoma City.
So go everyone else! Come on randomly assigned numerical combinations!