The Cleveland Cavaliers could make a lot of noise during the 2018 NBA Draft Lottery.
On Tuesday night, the Cleveland Cavaliers will be in an exciting situation. If everything works out and they can get a top-three pick, then that initial level of excitement will be blown out the building.
If the lottery odds hold as-is, Cleveland will still have a top 10 pick which is great. However, it certainly was not what was expected when the franchise dealt Kyrie Irving to the Boston Celtics this past offseason and they got the Brooklyn Nets pick as part of their return.
According to Tankathon, Cleveland is currently eighth. They have a 9.9 percent chance of getting a top three pick and a 2.8 percent of winning the first overall pick. Teams slotted three-eight have a win/lose difference of just four games. With that in mind, the chances of Cleveland moving up, even just a couple of spots, may be pretty solid.
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So, prior to the official lottery occurring, here are the predictions for the 2018 draft lottery order:
14- Denver Nuggets. Denver is not a lottery team if they were playing the east but because they do not, they have a chance of moving up instead, even though the likelihood is very little. 13 and 12 – Los Angeles Clippers. The Clippers dealt Blake Griffin and as part of their return netted them Detroit’s first rounder if it does fall between one and four per ESPN. For L.A., it does not so they get back to back picks.
11- Charlotte Hornets. They are a team that cannot get out of their own way. Poor draft decisions save for Kemba Walker has impacted them greatly. They also seem like a team that could make a trade come draft night given the need to reset parts of their roster. If a trade gets made, maybe Cleveland is the trade partner. The Cavs could send off Tristan Thompson or one of their guards as part of a deal.
The 10th pick could go to either the Philadelphia 76ers or the Boston Celtics via the Los Angles Lakers. While it may not matter now for Cleveland what happens with this pick, long-term it very could. Philly and Boston are two of the best in the east and if LeBron James leaves then we can say goodbye as the class of the east.
Neither team needs another young rookie but one of them gets one. Even if James returns it will become more difficult as he ages. In this scenario, the 76ers gets the pick as it lands between 6-14 per ESPN.
The ninth pick holds as-is with the New York Knicks drafting there. Luck finds its way to the Cavaliers again as they move up from eight and are guaranteed a top three pick. Instead, the Sacramento Kings slide down to eight.
The Chicago Bulls ends up at seven and the Orlando Magic finish at six. Meanwhile, the Dallas Mavericks drop from three to five and the Memphis Grizzles drop from two to four. I know, it does not happen but this is the year: Two teams projected in the top three drops!
As a result, the Cavaliers are three, Atlanta Hawks are two, and the Phoenix Suns are first. Arizona center DeAndre Ayton is destined for the Suns. Atlanta could go with Real Madrid guard Luka Doncic, Michigan State PF/C Jaren Jackson Jr., Texas center Mohamed Bamba. Those are the same options for Cleveland in this scenario.
Regardless of whom they select here, the Cavs get a promising star in this draft.
Going back to the actual lottery, if Cleveland only moves up minimally or not at all, there is still a chance that one of the top prospects could end up with the Cavs given the needs of other teams.
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Not counting Ayton because I don’t envision a legit chance of drafting him, if Cleveland doesn’t end up with Doncic, Bamba, Jackson Jr., or Alabama guard Collin Sexton then it could be a disappointing draft night. Michigan State’s Miles Bridges also could be in that discussion.