The NBA draft order and Zion Williamson's likely home were both decided by the results of Tuesday's draft lottery. Here are some winners and losers from a chaotic night:
Meanwhile, when agent Rich Paul went public with Anthony Davis' trade request during the season, the Pelicans appeared to have hit rock bottom under former GM Dell Demps. Less than four months later, New Orleans still has Davis, has a championship-winning executive at the helm, and has the opportunity to draft another transcendent talent in Williamson.
Reports have already surfaced that Davis' desire to leave town hasn't changed, but that's almost beside the point. Convincing Davis to commit to New Orleans was always going to be a tough sell for Griffin, with or without lottery luck. But Davis - even entering a contract year - gives the Pelicans one of the most attractive trade chips in recent NBA memory. The haul they could fetch in return for him could be used to put a formidable supporting cast of young talent and valuable assets around Williamson for years to come.
Maybe it's basketball karma for the way coach Alvin Gentry's team continued to fight well after the Davis drama torpedoed its season. Or maybe it means karma doesn't exist given how spectacularly the Pelicans mangled prior opportunities with superstars such as Davis and Chris Paul. Whichever side you fall on, it's clear that Griffin and the Pelicans hit the jackpot on Tuesday.
There was so much hope just 24 hours ago. The league-worst New York Knicks, who've been wandering in the NBA wilderness for the better part of two decades, were going to win the lottery and acquire the franchise's first homegrown superstar since Patrick Ewing. Or they were going to turn that lottery win into Anthony Davis, which would help lure big-name free agents such as Kevin Durant come July.
Instead, New York finds itself in position to select third overall, likely to land either Ja Morant or R.J. Barrett after the Grizzlies pick one of them. Many franchises would kill for that consolation prize, and the Knicks can still make a seismic splash in free agency. But at least for one night, the lottery felt like the beginning of another dry summer in The Mecca. That's a hopeless feeling Knicks fans know all too well.
The Grizzlies entered the lottery with just a 12.3 percent chance at a top-two pick and a 42.6 percent chance of losing their selection altogether, as it would convey to Boston if it fell outside the top eight. But rather than facing tough decisions, the Grizzlies exited the lottery with a great problem to have - deciding which of Morant or Barrett will join Jaren Jackson Jr. in their suddenly promising future.
The Lakers, meanwhile, entered the lottery with only the 11th-best odds and a less than 10 percent chance of landing in the top four. Despite the low odds, L.A. ended up with the No. 4 pick.
The historic yet dysfunctional Lakers still don't have a president of basketball operations, and there's no reason to trust the current management structure. Their prolonged coaching search was an utter disaster, with all due respect to Frank Vogel. And yet, the following is also true: This franchise has LeBron James, a solid young core, the No. 4 pick, and a plethora of cap space.
Even while the organization is in shambles, that's a terrifying reality for the rest of the league.
You could add the Hawks, Wizards, and Mavericks to this list for having the odds go against them. But Atlanta still left the lottery with two top-10 picks, Washington's fall from No. 6 to No. 9 is not catastrophic, and Dallas only had a 26.2 percent chance of keeping its top-five protected pick, anyway. (The Mavs' No. 10 selection now conveys to Atlanta because of the 2018 draft-night deal that landed Luka Doncic.)
Cleveland, Phoenix, and Chicago were the real losers. The league's second-, third-, and fourth-worst teams had favorable odds to land a potentially franchise-changing talent. Instead, they were elbowed down to the Nos. 5, 6, and 7 picks, respectively.
What do the Cavs have? Collin Sexton showed signs of growth as his rookie season dragged on, but Cleveland has by far the fewest high-ceiling players of this bunch. Meanwhile, attracting high-profile free agents to this franchise will be nearly impossible without LeBron, and after battling the Knicks for the worst record this season, the Cavs just fell to the No. 5 pick in a draft that has, at most, three potential game-changers. Ouch.
Anti-tanking purists, rejoice!
In the first season of the NBA making the lottery odds of the three worst teams equal, and expanding the lottery to determine the top four picks rather than the top three, the league's six worst teams all fell from their pre-lottery draft slots.
Whether Tuesday's results will actually suppress the incentive to tank remains to be seen, but the first lottery tweaks in 14 years achieved the desired results, and the ramifications could reverberate for years to come.
Boston's season has been over for a week now, yet the Celtics keep finding ways to take Ls.
At the height of Celtics mania in October, most assumed this team would be competing for a championship while owning as many as four first-round picks. One of those picks, which belonged to Sacramento, was even expected to be in play near the top of the lottery (though if it went No. 1, it would convey to Philadelphia).
Instead, the bumbling Celtics were sent packing in the second round, the Kings hung around the West playoff race all year - leaving Boston with the No. 14 pick from that deal - and the Grizzlies jumped from No. 8 to No. 2 on lottery night, meaning their top-eight protected pick remains in Memphis and the payoff gets kicked down the road.
The Celtics still own the No. 14, No. 20, and No. 22 picks in the draft, but lottery night could have turned into so much more. All the while, their biggest rival in a potential Anthony Davis sweepstakes - the Lakers - might've found a way to bulk up their own offer.
The possibilities of going to a mega-market such as New York, Chicago, or Los Angeles eventually gave way to the reality of New Orleans, but it's not entirely fair to say Williamson lost in this, even if he may be disappointed right now.
The Lakers, the Bulls, and especially the Knicks haven't exactly proven to be well-run organizations lately. Meanwhile, the lottery could have also landed Williamson in non-glamour markets like Cleveland, Memphis, or Minnesota.
The guy has the tools to be an immediate star - both on and off the court, he's going to be the No. 1 pick in the NBA draft, and he's about to be a very, very wealthy teenager. Calling him one of the lottery's losers wouldn't be right.