By Dennis Berry
The 2011 NBA Draft Lottery was held Tuesday night before the opening game of the Western Conference Finals. The 14 NBA teams that did not make the NBA playoffs get the chance to win the top overall pick in the upcoming draft.
The NBA draft lottery is different from other major league drafts. Instead of the team getting the top pick overall, it is left to chance. The NBA uses ping pong balls to set the order of the draft. The team with the worst record has a 25% chance to get the top pick.
This has caused some controversy over the years with media and fans believing that it is fixed. They like to point to the first draft lottery in 1985. That is the year the New York Knicks got the top overall pick in the draft lottery. This lead to them selecting Patrick Ewing out of Georgetown and building a team around him.
This year the Minnesota Timberwolves had the worst record in the NBA at 17-65. With that record they had a 25% chance of getting the first pick. The Cleveland Cavaliers were second at 19.9% and followed by the Toronto Raptors at 15.6%. The Cavaliers had two chances at the top pick, with a draft pick acquired via trade gave them another 2.8% chance at the top pick. Utah also had two shots at the top pick.
In the end, it was the Cleveland Cavaliers being the big winner in the draft lottery. The Cavaliers won the top overall pick in the draft. Not only did they get the top pick, but Cleveland also gets the fourth selection in the draft. For a team that won only 19 games last season after losing LeBron James to free agency, this is an opportunity to remake the franchise.
The Minnesota Timberwolves will pick second and the Utah Jazz third. As mentioned earlier, Cleveland picks fourth and then Toronto has the fifth pick.
Cleveland is the obvious winner in the draft lottery this year by getting two of the first four picks. Utah is the next big winner. They get a top three pick and also have a pick waiting for them at 12.
The question turns to what Cleveland does now. They have the best chance to improve their team. They can go draft a combo of the top players considered in this draft. This may not be a strong draft class, but Cleveland as the best chance to get the best talent with their first two picks. Or they can use one of the picks as trade bait for a proven player to bring in.
Cleveland owner Dan Gilbert was at the lottery and did not give any clues as to what Cleveland will do with their picks. One thing is for sure, Cleveland hit the jackpot in the 2011 NBA Draft.