The NBA Draft lottery is always filled with excitement, disappointment, great outfits, even better reactions and the potential for franchises to have their trajectory altered for better or worse over the next decade. Tuesday was no different, as teams moved up and down the board, and the Boston Celtics landed the No. 1 overall pick via the Brooklyn Nets. First, the order of the first 14 picks in the June 22 draft:
Now, here are seven takeaways.
1. Danny Ainge, you're on the clock
The Celtics, winners of 53 games, the No. 1 seed in the East, and having just advanced to the Eastern Conference Finals after dispatching the Wizards in seven games, also went into the draft lottery with the highest odds of landing the top pick, thanks to a 2013 trade of Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett to the Brooklyn Nets in exchange for the Nets' 2014, 2016 and 2018 picks, along with the right to swap picks in this year's draft. The Nets finished this season with the worst record in the league, and had to watch as Boston won the lottery on Tuesday. Pierce, who was part of the trade that helped the Celtics land the number one overall pick, delighted in the result.
And look what I leave behind for the Celts on my way out #1 pick����������- Paul Pierce (@paulpierce34) May 17, 2017
Markelle Fultz, a freshman out of Washington, is expected to be the first player drafted this year, but Celtics general manager Danny Ainge was -- as usual -- keeping his cards close to the vest afterwards, saying the Celtics haven't decided who the best overall player is yet. Boston now has the opportunity to add a potential franchise player in the draft, or they can take the first overall pick into the trade market and see if it can land them some immediate help. The Celtics have been linked to trade rumors for superstars in need of a change of scenery for years, most recently Jimmy Butler and Paul George.
Because of Boston's recent success, there has been less pressure for Ainge to deliver on his plan to turn the Celtics into championship contenders. Now, the clock is on, and what Boston does with the No. 1 overall pick will be scrutinized for the next several years. For the pessimists, remember that in 2003, the Detroit Pistons were in the Eastern Conference Finals when they landed the No. 2 pick in the draft, but went on to take Darko Milicic ahead of Carmelo Anthony, Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade. That said, all you can do is put yourself in a position to upgrade the roster, which the Celtics have done. Now we wait and see.
2. For the rest of the East, the challenge becomes tougher
For seven years running, teams in the Eastern Conference have been chasing down LeBron James, in Miami and now in Cleveland. The Cavaliers are far and away the best team in the East, but a handful of teams have fancied themselves the second-best. Boston has now firmly established themselves as the frontrunner to challenge the Cavs for the next few years. But how will this lottery impact summer decisions for teams like Toronto, Washington and Atlanta? The Raptors are facing a luxury tax crunch and have Kyle Lowry's free agency looming over them. The Wizards have a great backcourt, found a starting five that got them within a game of the conference finals this season, but need to shore up their depth. The Hawks disappointed this season, and could go in either direction this offseason should they choose to rebuild or continue adding pieces to their current core. For all of these teams, they're now not only chasing Cleveland, but trying to keep pace with Boston as well.
3. The Lonzo Ball era in L.A. is now closer to becoming reality
The Lakers vaulted into the top three and landed the second overall pick despite coming in with less than a 50 percent chance of doing so, avoiding a disastrous scenario where they would have handed their first round pick over to the Sixers if they didn't end up in the top three. Now, the speculation of Ball to the Lakers begins. Immediately after the draft lottery results, it was reported that multiple teams have already put together trade proposals to acquire D'Angelo Russell, the second overall pick by the Lakers in 2015, as he might be expendable if Los Angeles does choose to go with Ball with the second overall pick.
Lonzo (and his father Lavar) have been open about wanting to play in L.A., so get ready for Big Baller Brand to hit Hollywood. Also, Magic Johnson's smile:
4. The shadow of Sam Hinkie continues to loom in Philly
Draft lottery night has become an annual celebration for Sixers fans (at a party on Tuesday, Sixers fans raised a banner for former general manager Sam Hinkie and one fan proposed to his girlfriend). Because of a trade made by Hinkie with Sacramento that netted them a pick swap in this year's draft, the Sixers will have the third overall pick, instead of the fifth. Just like last season, when the Sixers won the draft lottery, current general manager Bryan Colangelo will have his predecessor to thank for his draft position. The Sixers have one of the most intriguing young cores in the league with Joel Embiid, Ben Simmons and Dario Saric, and now they'll get to add a top-three pick. Oh, and Sixers owner Josh Harris publicly thanked Hinkie after the draft lottery results.
5. The Kings land two top-ten picks, but it could have been better
0.0% chance for the No. 1 pick, this is my favorite graphic ever. pic.twitter.com/MOqkaAXevK- Mitch Goldich (@mitchgoldich) May 17, 2017
This screengrab of Kings head coach Dave Joerger having 0.00% chance to land the No. 1 overall pick pretty much defines how the last decade have been in Sacramento, who will draft fifth instead of third because of a pick swap with Philadelphia. The Kings did land the 10th overall pick as well from the Pelicans as a result of the DeMarcus Cousins trade. In a loaded draft, having two picks in the top ten would be reason for optimism for any franchise. But this is Sacramento, and who the Kings pick might depend on who owner Vivek Ranadive decides is the next Steph Curry, which means you can go ahead and ignore all the mock draft results for the Kings because they have rarely made sense on draft night.
6. The Knicks received no reward for another disappointing season
If any franchise could have used a frozen envelope draft lottery conspiracy to vault to the No. 1 pick, it would have been the Knicks, who suffered through another disappointing season and appear to be ready to move on from Carmelo Anthony, with questions about Kristaps Porzingis' future with the team lingering heading into the summer as well. In a draft where the Celtics and Lakers ended up picking in the top two, the Knicks -- who had the seventh-best odds to land the No. 1 overall pick -- fell to eighth. At least Clyde Frazier wore one of his best suits though:
How is it possible for a human to have THIS much swagger? pic.twitter.com/vt5s2k6XI0- CBS Sports (@CBSSports) May 17, 2017
7. The Suns and Magic can't afford to miss on their picks
The Suns had the second-highest odds of landing the number one pick, and a better than 55 percent chance to be in the top-three, but ended up falling to fourth. Phoenix is stocked with young talent led by Devin Booker, but they are in need of a talent infusion in the crowded West if they want to start thinking about the playoffs anytime soon. For a franchise that's missed the playoffs for seven straight seasons, nailing this pick will be critical for Phoenix. The same could be said for the Orlando Magic, who will draft sixth and have a roster of young players with ceilings and veterans carrying significant salary and no particular path to contention. Orlando has missed the playoffs for five straight seasons and their plan to rebuild after the Dwight Howard trade has gone sideways, as they went backwards this season, going from 35 wins to 29 wins. A top-three pick would have been the easiest path to landing a game-changing player for these two franchises, but the Suns and Magic have to hope that this is the draft that will turn their fortunes around.