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Tuesday night, the NBA held its annual Draft Lottery to determine the order of the first 14 picks. Though the night didn’t produce any huge surprises, it provided plenty of intrigue as one of the most talked about high school classes in history inches closer to loading the Association up with one and done players.
After watching the results, we take a look at the night's five biggest winners.
1. LAVAR BALL
It would be easy to go with the Celtics or the Lakers as the biggest winner of the night - and we’ll get to them - but you know who won the Draft Lottery? LaVar Ball and the Big Baller Brand.
Regardless of the how the ping pong balls fell, UCLA star and former top five high school prospect Lonzo Ball was almost assuredly going to be selected among the top three picks. However, because Los Angeles secured the No. 2 pick overall they are now in prime position to select Ball - assuming Boston picks Markelle Fultz - and what could be better for a player whose father is on an endless promotional tour of his children and the shoe and apparel company that they are launching?
Through sheer willpower, the eldest Ball has made himself and the Big Baller Brand a national story. Now with the very real chance that Lonzo could end up in Los Angeles, it’s likely that all things Ball will remain the biggest story leading into the Draft. Call him a genius, call him a madman, call him anything you like really but outside of the Lakers getting the No. 1 pick, things couldn’t have possibly played out better for LaVar Ball.
2. THE LOS ANGELES LAKERS
Now let’s get to what landing the No. 2 pick means to the Lakers as a franchise. Given it was basically a 50-50 proposition that they would even end up with a pick in this year’s Lottery - if they had landed outside the top three, Philadelphia would have gotten their pick - just having a pick is huge.
Looking at the Lakers' roster, what they need most is a young playmaker to play alongside their other young talents like Brandon Ingram, DeAngelo Russell and Julius Randle. Now, they will get one no matter who the Celtics pick first. Most likely, the Lakers are going to end up with the local product Ball and the amount of excitement that picking him will create will be off-the-charts.
3. THE BOSTON CELTICS
How about Danny Ainge and the Boston Celtics? Their 2013 deal with the Brooklyn Nets that sent the Nets' aging stars Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce has already netted them two first-round picks. Now, it’s afforded them the No. 1 pick in this year’s draft and they are still owed the Nets' first-round pick in 2018. It’s been theft at the highest level and one of the most fruitful trades in the history of pro sports. To think that a team who finished first in their conference also has the first pick in the Draft is crazy.
More than likely the Celtics like Markelle Fultz here and he’s a great fit for their team. But, if they want to have fun they could sure act interested in taking Lonzo Ball to see if they can force the Lakers into making a panic deal.
And look what I leave behind for the Celts on my way out #1 pick😂👌🏾🙏🔥— Paul Pierce (@paulpierce34) May 17, 2017
4. DE'AARON FOX
Moving on to the actual players that might get drafted, I think that Kentucky’s De’Aaron Fox could end up a winner. There’s always the chance that Philadelphia could take an elite wing like Josh Jackson or Jayson Tatum at No. 3, but what they would appear to need most is a playmaker at the point guard position -- or even a shooter but it might be a reach to go for Malik Monk here. The Sixers talk about trusting the process and the process could just work out to the benefit of Fox and bump him up a few slots in the Draft.
Should that happen, it would actually work out to the advantage of whichever player Phoenix takes between Jackson and Tatum. The Suns can use a prolific wing and by getting picked by them, it keeps either Jackson or Tatum from having to play for Sacramento. The guy they don’t pick? Well, enjoy Sacramento.
5. THE CLASS OF 2016
Finally, the class of 2016 is the huge winner here. Ever since the summer between their freshman and sophomore years of high school they were touted as one of the best classes in the last 25 years. It played out during last year’s college season and now it looks like it will play out in the NBA Draft. It could be reasonably argued that the top 10 prospects in the NBA Draft are freshmen and it wouldn’t be out of the question for 15 members of the class of 2016 to be drafted before the completion of the first round.