By Sam Amick
May 30, 2012
2012 Team-By-Team Lottery Outlook
We won't know for a decade or so whether this draft will go down as one of the greatest of all time, but it's undeniably deep and headlined by a potential franchise player. Kentucky power forward Anthony Davis is the consensus No. 1 pick, and the lucky winner of the first selection -- along with the rest of the top 14 -- will be revealed Wednesday at the NBA draft lottery in New York (8 p.m. ET, ESPN). The lottery sets the top three picks for the June 28 draft, with picks 4-14 determined by inverse order of regular-season record. Here is a look at all of the lottery teams' chances of securing a top-three pick, their roster needs and the prospects who might be able to fill those holes. (Teams are listed in order of best chance to win the lottery. For the complete lottery odds, click here.)
Charlotte Bobcats
Record: 7-59
Odds: No. 1: 25.0% | No. 2: 21.47% | No. 3: 17.72% | Any top-3 pick: 64.19%
It's never a good sign about a team's talent when people joke that the owner is the best player in the organization -- even when that owner is Michael Jordan. That was one of the many punch lines being used in NBA circles lately about the Bobcats, who set an NBA record for worst winning percentage at .106. Landing Davis would expedite the plan put in place by second-year general manager Rich Cho, who hails from the famed front office in Oklahoma City and is a quality point man for this massive rebuilding effort. Now if only he could find a taker for swingman Corey Maggette (one season and $10.9 million remaining on his contract) and power forward Tyrus Thomas (three years and $26.1 million) to start with a truly clean slate. The Bobcats, who are searching for a new coach after parting ways with Paul Silas, have invested in youth at point guard (Kemba Walker), shooting guard (Gerald Henderson) and center (Bismack Biyombo).

Washington Wizards
Record: 20-46
Odds: No. 1: 19.9% | No. 2: 18.78% | No. 3: 17.06% | Any top-3 pick: 55.74%
Given Washington's recent woes, many front-office officials around the league were surprised that general manager Ernie Grunfeld was rewarded with an extension last month. But Grunfeld has been executing owner Ted Leonsis' plan, which is to dump salary and build via the draft. The strategy evolved this season, when the Wizards -- who were widely considered to have one of the most immature locker rooms in the NBA -- traded 24-year-old center JaVale McGee (to Denver) and 26-year-old shooting guard Nick Young (to the Clippers) for a package centered on 29-year-old big man Nene and his monstrous contract (four years, $52 million remaining). They still need more talented young pieces, though, and the scoring skills of Florida shooting guard Bradley Beal, the all-around game and leadership of Kentucky small forward Michael Kidd-Gilchrist or perhaps a much-needed frontcourt addition like Kansas power forward Thomas Robinson would work well. Meanwhile, whether Randy Wittman returns as coach remains unclear. A source with knowledge of the situation said the Wizards have been analyzing him while considering other candidates. Wittman, who went 18-31 as interim coach after Flip Saunders was fired, is under contract for one more season, according to The Washington Post.
Cleveland Cavaliers
Record: 21-45
Odds: No. 1: 13.8% | No. 2: 14.24% | No. 3: 14.53% | Any top-3 pick: 42.57%
Rookie of the Year Kyrie Irving was an exciting, dynamic addition at point guard this season, but the Cavaliers still lost 28 of their last 36 games and improved only marginally (they finished with a .318 winning percentage at 21-45 compared to .231 at 19-63 in 2010-11). Davis or Robinson would be phenomenal gets to keep building down low, where the Cavaliers are set to lose veteran forward Antawn Jamison, their second-leading scorer, to free agency but have last year's No. 4 pick, Tristan Thompson, and resident glass-cleaner/shot-changer Anderson Varejao. Kidd-Gilchrist or North Carolina small forward Harrison Barnes would be safe and productive plays, while Beal could join Irving to form a promising young backcourt. Cleveland also may be tempted to gamble on the potential star power of prospects like big men Andre Drummond of Connecticut or Perry Jones of Baylor.
New Orleans Hornets
Record: 21-45
Odds: No. 1: 13.7% | No. 2: 14.16% | No. 3: 14.47% | Any top-3 pick: 42.33%
The Hornets have two lottery picks: their own in this slot and the one they acquired from the Clippers (via the Timberwolves) in the Chris Paul trade (see below). With an agreement in place for ownership to transfer from the NBA to New Orleans Saints owner Tom Benson, these two selections will be huge in determining the direction of the franchise (along with the pending restricted free agency of shooting guard Eric Gordon). They'll be tempted to go for frontcourt help with the first pick (Davis, Robinson or Drummond, if possible), while adding point guard Damian Lillard of Weber State with the second pick would make for a potent potential pairing in the backcourt with Gordon.
Sacramento Kings
Record: 22-44
Odds: No. 1: 7.6% | No. 2: 8.44% | No. 3: 9.46% | Any top-3 pick: 25.5%
As much as the Kings enjoyed their win over the Lakers in the regular-season finale, it cut their odds of getting the No. 1 pick virtually in half. It's too bad, too, as a combination of DeMarcus Cousins and his fellow Kentucky big man in Davis would have been scary. As it is, the once-again-woeful Kings could gamble on some of the best and most unpredictable big-man talents in Drummond or Jones (though I'm told it's not likely), and they're still looking for a quality small forward (Kidd-Gilchrist, Barnes perhaps) despite trading for John Salmons last summer and moving third-year player Tyreke Evans to that spot this season. If the Kings lose one of their many ball-dominant players by trading Evans (which is a possibility), they could look for an upgrade at point guard (Lillard or North Carolina's Kendall Marshall could be options) despite the presence of two 2012 rookies, Isaiah Thomas and Jimmer Fredette.
Brooklyn Nets
Record: 22-44
Odds: No. 1: 7.5% | No. 2: 8.33% | No. 3: 9.36% | Any top-3 pick: 25.19%
If Russian owner Mikhail Prokhorov is ever going to make good on some of those outlandish promises he's made about his team, there will have to be a fair amount of luck involved. That includes this lottery, as the Nets must give their first-round pick to Portland as part of the Gerald Wallace trade unless they land in the top three. (The Nets are in danger of losing Wallace, who has a $9.5 million option for next season, though general manager Billy King said he intends to offer the 29-year-old forward a multiyear deal.) Because everything with the Nets these days begins and ends with the Deron Williams ripple effect, it's safe to say that securing the top pick would help in the effort to retain the free-agent point guard. The pick could become a chip in a possible trade for Orlando's Dwight Howard. Even without Howard, upgrades of any kind -- especially Davis -- are much-needed for Williams' recruitment. Williams, a source close to him told me recently, is seriously considering becoming Brooklyn's first star but needs to see the sort of roster changes that ensure he won't be in for another woeful season.
Golden State Warriors
Record: 23-43
Odds: No. 1: 3.6% | No. 2: 4.16% | No. 3: 4.9% | Any top-3 pick: 12.66%
The Warriors sacrificed the second half of their season in order to secure their pick, which would go to Utah if outside the top seven. After acquiring injured Milwaukee center Andrew Bogut for leading scorer Monta Ellis, Golden State went deep into its youth-filled bench down the stretch as it lost 22 of 27 games after an 18-21 start. The poor finish has left the Warriors with a 72.66 percent chance of keeping their pick. If that happens, the Warriors -- who also have San Antonio's first-round pick (No. 30) -- are expected to take the best player available rather than homing in on a particular position. But considering they were the worst rebounding team in the league this season, there is a strong focus on players who know how to hit the boards. Robinson would be a dream pick, but North Carolina center Tyler Zeller would fit that bill too. He could provide a capable scorer and defender down low, all while having time to develop while playing behind Bogut and power forward David Lee. Kidd-Gilchrist would be a good fit, and Jones could be a possibility if he impresses in workouts. And while Stephen Curry has the point guard duties secured, you have to wonder if his injury history doesn't inspire the Warriors to opt for the hometown hero in Lillard. The Oakland native, whom the Warriors watched in a recent workout, looks ready to score at the next level and run a team.
Toronto Raptors
Record: 23-43
Odds: No. 1: 3.5% | No. 2: 4.05% | No. 3: 4.77% Any top-3 pick: 12.32%
Lillard is a possibility here, too, as the Raptors are looking for offensive firepower after making defensive strides under first-year coach Dwane Casey. With Jose Calderon entering the final year of his sizable deal ($10.6 million next season), they need a point guard for the future to pair with center Andrea Bargnani, fellow big man Jonas Valanciunas and 22-year-old shooting guard DeMar DeRozan. (Valanciunas, the fifth pick in 2011, has begun negotiations to get out of his Lithuanian contract and is expected to join Toronto for next season, according to In some ways, Marshall, a pass-first (and second, and maybe even third) point guard, would be a younger version of Calderon. Washington point guard Tony Wroten is immensely talented, but he would be considered a gamble in the top 10. If Toronto looks to the frontcourt to find its scoring, it would do just fine taking Barnes or perhaps Ohio State's Jared Sullinger. Washington shooting guard Terrence Ross is expected to go in the lottery and could add some scoring depth on the wing, as is also the case with Duke shooting guard Austin Rivers or UConn shooting guard Jeremy Lamb.
Detroit Pistons
Record: 25-41
Odds: No. 1: 1.7% | No. 2: 2.0% | No. 3: 2.4% Any top-3 pick: 6.10%
With four consecutive losing seasons and three in a row with a winning percentage under .400, the Pistons are desperate for a defensive-minded big man to pair with emerging center Greg Monroe. Reserve forward Jason Maxiell led the team in blocks at just 0.77 per game, and Detroit was 25th in field-goal defense (46.2 percent) after finishing last in that category the previous season (48.6). Landing Drummond likely would be possible only if they make good on their 6.1 percent chance of moving into the top three. North Carolina forward John Henson could be a more realistic fit. He has only 220 pounds on his 6-foot-11 frame, but his ability to dominate the paint was on display last season when he averaged 9.9 rebounds and 2.9 blocks. Fellow Tar Heel Zeller could be in the mix, along with uber-athletic Mississippi State power forward Arnett Moultrie. If the Pistons are determined to add a defensive difference maker, they could take prospects like 7-footers Meyers Leonard of Illinois or Fab Melo of Syracuse, who are both expected to be mid-to-late first-round picks.
New Orleans Hornets (from Wolves via Clips)
Record: 21-45
Odds: No. 1: 1.1% | No. 2: 1.3% | No. 3: 1.57% | Any top-3 pick: 3.97%
Seven years ago, Minnesota traded this pick, along with Sam Cassell, to the Clippers for Marko Jaric and Lionel Chalmers. The Clippers then sent the pick to New Orleans as part of the Paul deal in December. The Timberwolves missed the playoffs and finished with the NBA's 10th-worst record this season, giving the Hornets a tiny chance to win the lottery with this pick.
Portland Trail Blazers
Record: 28-38
Odds: No. 1: 0.8% | No. 2: 0.95% | No. 3: 1.15% | Any top-3 pick: 2.9%
It's a big offseason for the Blazers, who need to hire a general manager and coach and may finally have to enter rebuilding mode after years of retooling amid seemingly endless injuries to Greg Oden, Brandon Roy and others. They lost 15 of 23 games after trading Wallace to New Jersey, and the roster will likely be even more lacking soon because second-leading scorer Jamal Crawford is expected to opt out of his contract. Small forward Nicolas Batum, a restricted free agent, is expected to be re-signed, but it won't be easy because he has very good value around the league. Point guard Raymond Felton will also be a free agent but is not expected to return. Holes all around, in other words, and a long list of prospects who could help Portland, which will have its own pick and would get Brooklyn's if the Nets don't end up in the top three.
Milwaukee Bucks
Record: 31-35
Odds: No. 1: 0.7% | No. 2: 0.83% | No. 3: 1.01% | Any top-3 pick: 2.54%
Point guard Brandon Jennings is eligible for an extension this offseason but the early signs are that he'd rather test the market as a restricted free agent next summer (he told in mid-February that he was "doing my homework on big-market teams.") The Bucks also face more immediate uncertainty with forward Ersan Ilyasova, who enters free agency in July after having a breakout year. But there are plenty of needs beyond those potential roster holes, most notably the void left by Bogut at center and the absence of a top-tier small forward (Mike Dunleavy has one season remaining at $3.75 million). Jones and Barnes likely will be gone, but Sullinger and Zeller could still be available if, as expected, the Bucks get the 12th pick. Or, of course, they could for the defensive-minded bunch in Leonard or Melo.
Phoenix Suns
Record: 33-33
Odds: No. 1: 0.6% | No. 2: 0.71% | No. 3: 0.87% | Any top-3 pick: 2.18%
It's a testament to Steve Nash that a team with so many pressing needs did so well, but that list could get longer with his possible departure as a free agent. Phoenix would lose more than a point guard, though, as Nash, who was drafted by the Suns in 1996 and traded to Dallas after two seasons, has been the beloved face of the franchise since returning as a free agent in 2004. If ever there was a team that is likely to opt for the best player available, in other words, this is it. This draft is light on point guards, but Lillard and Marshall would be nice picks if they fell that far (Wroten would be an additional option). Perimeter scorers abound, too, and a dynamic shooting guard in Ross, Lamb, Rivers or Syracuse's Dion Waiters could help offset the decline in offense from the potential loss of a Hall of Fame floor leader. The Suns of recent years were at their best when power forward Channing Frye and small forward Jared Dudley were coming off the bench, so finding a prospect worthy of replacing one of them in the starting lineup would be a move in the right direction as well.
Houston Rockets
Record: 34-32
Odds: No. 1: 0.5% | No. 2: 0.59% | No. 3: 0.72% | Any top-3 pick: 1.81%
The Rockets simply must find a way to make their way out of this perpetual mediocrity, but drafting midway through the first round on a consistent basis is a tough way to get that done. What's more, they face free-agent situations both this summer (point guard Goran Dragic, shooting guard Courtney Lee, centers Marcus Camby and -- with a $1.5 million buyout option -- Samuel Dalembert) and next (shooting guard Kevin Martin) that make it tough to assess the greatest position of priority. Translation: Take the best available player. The beauty of this draft, according to many of the league's personnel men, is that the player selected in the teens could wind up being the All-Star. It's both deep and difficult to project. Henson could be a worthy addition if he lasted until the end of the lottery, while Leonard and Melo could help protect the paint too. Otherwise, one of the top shooting guards is likely to fall, be it Lamb, Rivers, Ross, or Waiters (Beal, I've been assured, will not).

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