Nearly a quarter of the way through the season, we’re taking a first look at the NBA Draft Lottery odds to see who could be the big winners.
As the NBA playoff races are beginning to take shape, so too is the bottom of the standings and the race for the top pick in the 2023 NBA Draft. Victor Wembanyama, the 7-foot-5 French big man with exceptional defensive upside and guard skills, is the presumed No. 1 pick. But this projects to be a deep class with plenty of star upside, looking at players like Scoot Henderson, the Thompson twins and more.
With the caveat that we’re just approaching the end of the first quarter of the NBA season, the NBA Draft Lottery odds hold the potential for plenty of chaos, with five picks changing hands and a handful of preseason contenders in position for a huge talent upgrade.
Who is on top of the current NBA Draft Lottery odds?
There are a number of interesting wrinkles here, including teams like the Heat, Warriors, Nets and Lakers falling in the lottery, despite entering the season with championship aspirations. Any of those teams could eventually move out of the lottery and shake things up but right now the present potential for a veteran team to add a game-changing rookie and jump right back to the top of the standings next season. That is, except for the Lakers…
The Pelicans have to be loving the Lakers right now
The Pelicans have the right to swap picks with the Lakers this season (as well as the Lakers’ pick next season outright). As the Lakers have struggled the Pelicans have to be thrilled with their chances of adding another high lottery pick. Although they didn’t actually make all of these selections, the Pelicans’ roster currently has seven former lottery picks.
No. 1 — Zion WilliamsonNo. 2 — Brandon IngramNo. 5 — Jonas ValanciunasNo. 8 — Dyson Daniels and Jaxson HayesNo. 10 — CJ McCollumNo. 13 — Kira Lewis Jr.
This 2023 Lakers pick swap is a product of the Anthony Davis trade and the Pelicans have already turned the draft assets from that deal into Jaxson Hayes and Dyson Daniels, and as pieces of the trades that brought back CJ McCollum and the pick that became Herbert Jones. Add another top 5 pick to that in a loaded class and the winner of the Davis trade becomes a bigger and bigger question.
The Jazz are playing their way out of the lottery but won’t be out completely
The Jazz were expected to be in the running for the No. 1 pick after trading Rudy Gobert and Donovan Mitchell. However, they’ve gotten off to a 12-7 start (best record in the West) and the odds of them trading players like Jordan Clarkson or Malik Beasley for additional picks seem to be shrinking. But even if the Jazz’s own pick doesn’t fall in the lottery, they’ll still likely be well-represented.
The Jazz have Minnesota’s first-round pick this season which is currently in the lottery as the Timberwolves have face-planted out of the gate. Gobert was supposed to be a game-changer for them but they’re currently at No. 10 in the Western Conference and FiveThirtyEight gives them just a 55 percent chance of making the playoffs. Utah also has the 76ers’ No. 13 pick, which they would technically get from the Nets in return from Royce O’Neale as part of a trio of pick swaps.
Utah’s own selection would currently be the No. 27 pick, giving them three first-round picks with the current standings.
The Magic could be the draft’s biggest winners
Orlando won the No. 1 pick in last year’s draft and selected Paolo Banchero, who has looked like the frontrunner for Rookie of the Year. But even though they only have the fourth-worst record in the league, the Magic actually have the best odds of the No. 1 pick this season because they also own the Bulls’ pick this year from the Nikola Vucevic trade. Those two picks give the Magic a combined 17.7 percent chance at No. 1.
If the Magic do somehow win the lottery it would be, incredibly, the second time in franchise history they’ve had back-to-back No. 1 picks. In 1992, they won the No. 1 pick and selected Shaquille O’Neal. The next year, they won the lottery again and selected Chris Webber, trading him for the draft rights to Anfernee Hardaway.
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