NBA draft lottery winners and losers: Magic, Kings, Thunder boost fortunes with favorable draws
Orlando won the No. 1 pick but wasn't the only winner of the NBA draft lottery.
The Orlando Magic are on the clock.
The ping pong balls bounced in Orlando's favor Tuesday night and landed the Magic the No. 1 pick in the NBA draft for the fourth time in franchise history. Things are starting to look up for the Magic, who had a 14% chance of winning the top pick, after going 43-111 the past two seasons.
"It feels great. I'm so happy for our fans," said president of basketball operations Jeff Weltman. "They really stuck with us. And nights like this help, where you can really show the fruits of why you go through these phases and these cycles. And hopefully, they're really excited by this."
Orlando wasn't the only big winner of the lottery. A few other teams saw their draft prospects boosted Tuesday by a favorable draw. On the other side, some teams' fortunes were dealt a setback.
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The next step in the draft process is the scouting combine, which begins Wednesday in Chicago. The 2022 draft is still over a month away on June 23, which gives us plenty of time to parse the biggest winners and losers from the lottery results:
Sacramento was the biggest riser of the night, jumping up to No. 4 after entering the lottery in the No. 7 spot. Adding a top prospect from this class next to De'Aaron Fox and Domantas Sabonis could go a long way to helping the Kings snap a 16-year playoff drought that is the longest in NBA history.
Orlando was one of three teams with the best odds of landing the top pick, but actually winning it is a big deal for a team with a young core developing around last year's two first-round picks, Jalen Suggs and Franz Wagner. Any of the top prospects — Paolo Banchero, Jabari Smith, Chet Holmgren — could accelerate the Magic's rebuild.
Landing the No. 5 pick is a decent consolation, but the Pistons have to be a bit disappointed after entering the lottery with top-three odds. They should still draft a quality player, but they may miss out on the top big men who could pair nicely next to point guard Cade Cunningham, last year's No. 1 overall pick.
A year after slipping two spots in the lottery, Oklahoma City rose two spots and nabbed the No. 2 pick to go with No. 12. The Thunder needed to land a high pick to help justify all the losing of the past couple seasons, and No. 2 is a worthy reward. Plus, the last time the Thunder franchise picked second, it got a guy named Kevin Durant.
The Blazers hoped star Damian Lillard would be a good luck charm as their lottery representative, and they had a decent chance to move into the top four (37.2%). Instead, they slid down a spot to the No. 7 pick, and Lillard appeared to be a bit disappointed by the drop.
It was known going into the lottery that the Lakers did not control their own first-round pick, but seeing it officially convey at No. 8 to the Pelicans (as part of the Anthony Davis trade) was one final insult to a disappointing season.
The Pelicans were the beneficiaries of the Lakers' misfortunes this season and landed a surprise top-10 pick that more than makes up for not having their own 2022 first-round selection. After trading for C.J. McCollum at the deadline, bringing back Zion Williamson and adding a top prospect could make the Pelicans a serious contender next season.
Winner: Top prospects
Top prospects are always winners by virtue of being top prospects. The teams picking at the top of the 2022 draft also work in their favor. All the teams in the top five — yes, even the Kings — have promising young players and reasons for optimism. The top players in this year's class will be stepping into hopeful and encouraging situations.
Follow Matt Eppers on Twitter @meppers_.