The Toronto Raptors don’t have a pick in the NBA draft lottery, but what happens tonight has an impact throughout the league. Who should Raptors fans be cheering for?
The NBA Draft Lottery is here! It’s impact will be league-wide. And although may not be obvious, that includes the Toronto Raptors.
The lottery is an exciting night for many franchises which usually results in disappointment. Everyone thinks they’re going to land the number one pick. Ultimately, even the best team has only a 14-percent chance.
This year, teams will be more disappointed than usual. There are a few prospects to like at the top of the board, but the bell of the ball, and clear first tier, is star prospect Zion Williamson.
The gap between Zion and the next highest prospect — Ja Morant according to most draft boards — is the greatest since Anthony Davis and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist. We’re not sure if their gap will be quite as great at the NBA level, but we are sure that everyone wants Zion at this time.
With so much on the line based on the bounce of a few ping-pong balls, we decided to breakdown what’s best for the Toronto Raptors. Who you should be cheering for, or more accurately, against.
Cheer against: The Sacramento Kings pick
This is the most important pick of the lottery from a Raptors perspective. Luckily, it only has a 1.0-percent chance of becoming the overall pick and only a 4.8-percent chance of landing in the top-four.
No matter where the pick ends up, it negatively impacts the Raptors. The pick will convey to the Boston Celtics if it lands anywhere but number one. For all the problems they suffered this season, Boston finished as the four seed. They also still have plenty of picks to help re-shuffle around their young, talented core.
If it ends up being the first overall pick, it goes to the Philadelphia 76ers. Remember the team who just pushed the Raptors in a thrilling series that needed the first Game 7 buzzer-beater in NBA history? They already will return a talented team next season. Toronto can’t afford to have them add a transcendent talent — or whatever that transcendent talent can return on the trade market.
Cheer against the Kings first and foremost.
Cheer against: The Memphis Grizzlies
The Memphis Grizzlies will eventually need to give a pick to the Boston Celtics. The pick they owe is protected 1-8 in 2019, 1-6 in 2020, and unprotected in 2021.
It’s better for the Grizzlies, and therefore worse for the Celtics, to convey the pick this season. 2019 is projected to be a weak overall class, and if Memphis can get out of this obligation while just giving up the 9th pick, they’ll consider it a win.
Memphis probably isn’t going to be good for a while, especially considering the fact Mike Conley will be on the trade block this summer. Biting the bullet and giving the pick up now limits the upside it can give the Celtics.
The Grizzlies have a 6-percent chance at the number one pick and a 26.3-percent chance at landing in the top-four. If they land in the top-four, the pick will not go to Boston this year.
Cheer against: The New York Knicks
Although the Los Angeles Clippers feel like the primary threat now, the New York Knicks were technically on Kawhi Leonard’s potential landing spot list earlier this summer. Giving them the number one overall pick, makes it a more attractive basketball option.
Also, if Kawhi does decide to stay with the Raptors and the Knicks are able to land two other big-name free-agents (cough… Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant… cough), it’s important to limit their firepower, whether that is Zion Williamson or an asset to trade for Anthony Davis.
The Knicks have a 14-percent chance at the number one overall pick and a 52.1-percent chance at landing in the top-four. Anything other than first is a win for the Raptors.
Ultimately, the lottery likely won’t have a huge impact on the Raptors long-term future. But every transaction and every lucky lottery bounce matters, and there are definitely scenarios that work out better for Toronto than others. Now, we just wait to see what happens.