Now that the regular season is over, the NBA universe can turn its attention to the playoffs, which start on Saturday. But for fans of the 14 non-playoff teams, the focus is now on the upcoming NBA Draft and the offseason. With that in mind, the percentages for the upcoming NBA Draft Lottery are set, so here’s a look at the teams, their chances at getting the No. 1 pick and the needs of the teams most likely to win the lottery.
1. Minnesota Timberwolves (17-65), 25 percent
Despite taking three point guards in the 2009 Draft (they drafted and traded Ty Lawson) don’t be surprised if Minnesota drafts a point with the top pick this year. Duke’s Kyrie Irving would be a fit, as Jonny Flynn hasn’t worked out and while Ricky Rubio might be headed stateside, there is no guarantee of that. There are only two or three potential stars in this draft – and if Harrison Barnes returns to North Carolina that number drops by one – and Irving is one of them.
2. Cleveland Cavaliers (19-63), 19.9 percent
The Cavs need a floor leader as Baron Davis isn’t the long-term answer. Irving will definitely be the pick if the Cavs win the lottery. Barnes would be considered, as would Arizona’s Derrick Williams, but Irving is the man here.
3. Toronto Raptors (22-60), 15.6 percent
The Raptors do have a good, young nucleus and they could use help at the forward position. Williams will get consideration, as will Kentucky’s Enes Kanter and Lithuania’s Jonas Valanciunas. European forwards have fared well north of the border and the Raptors could use another to compliment former No. 1 pick Andrea Bargnani.
4. Washington Wizards (23-59), 11.9 percent
After winning the lottery last year and snagging John Wall, the Wizards have their floor leader, now they need pieces to help him. The Wizards would likely lean towards Williams with the top pick, but if they end up picking fourth (where Williams would likely not be available) look for them to take one of the European big men.
5. (tie) Utah Jazz (from the New Jersey Nets, 24-58), 7.6 percent*
The Jazz snagged this pick in the Deron Williams trade and would like to select his successor with it. If they get the No. 1 pick Irving is a lock to go here. If not, the Jazz clearly have needs all over so they could really go in any direction. Brandon Knight and Kemba Walker could both work at the point as well, and will be available within the top 10.
No. 5 (tie)
Anaheim Sacramento Kings (24-58), 7.5 percent*
The Kings have shown interest in Walker but with Tyreke Evans in the fold it’s unlikely they’d go with a point guard at the top of the draft. Williams would be a good fit. If they pick fifth, a big body to complement DeMarcus Cousins up front would be the likely choice.
7. Detroit Pistons (30-52), 4.3 percent
The Pistons need help everywhere, including at the coaching spot. They took Greg Monroe with the No. 7 pick last year and he really blossomed as the season went on. Detroit could really use some punch on the perimeter (again, Irving would likely be the guy with the No. 1 pick), but if the Pistons stay at No. 7 I would expect them to add size.
8. Cleveland Cavaliers (from the Los Angeles Clippers, 32-50), 2.8 percent
All the Cavs had to do to get this pick was absorb Baron Davis’ ridiculous contract. They probably won’t win the lottery from this pick, but if they don’t get Irving with the other, this could be a spot to take a second-tier point guard like Walker or Knight.
9. Charlotte Bobcats (34-48), 1.7 percent
The Bobcats have a decent backcourt with D.J. Augustin and Gerald Henderson, but could use help on the wing with Gerald Wallace now in Portland. A wing guy like Barnes would be a fit – the North Carolina connection wouldn’t hurt with Michael Jordan running the team – but most indications are that he’s going to return to school. That would put the focus on Irving and Williams at the No. 1 spot, and either would work. If they end up picking ninth, look for someone like San Diego State’s Kawhi Leonard to sneak up into the top 10.
10. Milwaukee Bucks (35-47), 1.1 percent chance
The Bucks already have their point man in Brandon Jennings, so if they win the lottery they’d likely either trade down or take Williams. If they end up at the back of the top 10, a good shooting guard would probably be the main target. But those aren’t readily available in this incredibly weak draft class, so a versatile power forward is probably the top need. One of the European big men or even Kentucky’s Terrence Jones could be fits.
11. Golden State Warriors (36-46), 0.8 percent.
12. Utah Jazz (39-43), 0.7 percent.
13. Phoenix Suns (40-42), 0.6 percent.
14. Houston Rockets (43-39), 0.5 percent.
*NBA will determine (by coin flip) which team gets the fifth-highest percentage and the right to pick fifth if neither team wins the lottery.