Lucky Number Seven

OK, so the Clippers didn't move up in the draft.  In fact, taken in conjunction with the April tie-breaker with the Knicks, the Clippers made the second biggest downward move.  Still, while there is clearly one huge winner in this year's lottery as the Bulls took their 17 ping pong balls to the bank, there are surprisingly few losers. 

The Heat may yet get the player they want in Derrick Rose if the Bulls draft Beasley for need over Rose and his Chicago roots.

The T-Wolves end up with the first pick in the 'Rose and Beasley are gone' draft - they're about where they should be.  They won their tie-breaker with the Grizz, putting them third before the draft.  They were passed by Chicago.  But they ended up picking third.  Chalk.

The Sonics are the biggest losers from a team standpoint.  At the end of the regular season, they had the second best chance at the top pick.  Leap-frogged by the Bulls and the T-Wolves, they moved down two full spots.  But it's not the fact that they dropped two spots so much as the fact that they dropped OUT of the top two.  In a very real sense, there's no difference between the 3rd pick and the 4th pick this year.  And the Sonics need absolutely everything, so it's not like they're going to say 'Damn, Brook Lopez is gone and all we needed was a center!'  When you consider that they essentially won last season's lottery (getting the number two pick while the number one pick was injured), it's hard to feel too sorry for them.

The Grizzlies move down a spot and a half, which given their track record in the lottery must feel like winning.  They always move down at least one, usually two.  The Grizzlies clearly have the worst luck in the history of the lottery.

The Knicks are pretty much where they should be based on record.  They moved up a half spot when they won the tie-breaker with the Clippers, and then down one in the lottery.  Big deal.

The real loser in all of this is Mike D'Antoni.  He chose the Knicks job over the Bulls job a couple weeks ago, knowing full well that there was a lot more talent on the Bulls' roster.  But at the time, it looked like the Knicks would have a top 5 pick, while the Bulls would be picking 9th.  Instead, whoever winds up coaching in Chicago gets to draft a franchise type player in a month and begin reshaping the team immediately.  Meanwhile, D'Antoni will be tasked with doing the best he can while Donnie Walsh trims payroll for two years.  After making a habit of winning 60 games a season in Phoenix, he'll be luck to win 60 combined the rest of this decade.

The LA Times , OC Register and LB Press-Telegram all have some Clippers' lottery coverage today.  Nothing earth-shattering of course - the usual quotes from EB the elder and MDsr.  Dunleavy says that Maggette is likely to opt out, and he's not sure on Brand.  He says they want to keep both of them.  Nothing we didn't know.  Oh, and Art Thompson is still obsessed with Yaroslav Korolev.  Let it go Art.  Let it go.

Although things will certainly change between now and the draft on June 26, it appears the Clippers are likely to be looking at a choice between Eric Gordon, Russell Westbrook and DJ Augustin as the best guards on the board.  Like I said, things can change.  The Grizzlies and Knicks both have tough choices ahead of the Clippers - the Grizz need a big more than they need another perimeter player, and Kevin Love is looking a lot more chiseled according to Chad Ford (Free Preview, Insider required), so maybe he moves up into their sites.  The Knicks have nothing that D'Antoni wants to keep - maybe he'll go for the best Italian available in Danilo Gallinari (D'Antoni apparently used to be a teammate of Gallinari's dad in the old country).  In other words, if things break well in the draft, the Clippers may have more quality guards (like OJ Mayo and or Jerryd Bayless) to choose from.  If not, then even Gordon might be off the board, and it will be a choice of Westbrook (needs to work on his shot), Augustin (too small) and Gallinari (too Eurotrash).  Ouch.

For my part, I'd be content with Bayless, Mayo or Gordon.  Things will change - a lot - in the next 5 weeks.  But as of now, all we can do is hope that one of them is on the board at seven.

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