In what is a draft with a notoriously weak class, the No. 1 overall pick will be decided by the lottery.
There is no Anthony Davis this year. No Greg Oden. No LeBron James. And most certainly no Michael Olowokandi.
With no surefire, can't-miss stud, the team that lands the top pick will draft based on need instead of value, making the ping pong balls vitally important.
The actual draft isn't until late June, but we'll have a good idea of who will hear his named called first once a team is officially put on the clock on May 21.
NBA Draft Lottery Odds
*Odds and trade notes courtesy of USA Today.
Chance of No. 1 pick
New Orleans Hornets
Portland Trail Blazers*
*If Portland's pick falls outside of the top 12, it will be sent to Charlotte.
**If Toronto's pick falls outside of the top three, it will be sent to the Oklahoma City Thunder via the Houston Rockets.
If Orlando Gets the No. 1 Pick
Then we start what figures to be an unpredictable draft with more unpredictability.
Certain teams will be easy to peg if David Stern rigs the lottery for them, but the Magic could go a number of different ways with this kind of power.
First and foremost, you have to believe Nerlens Noel is out of the question. Nikola Vucevic averaged a double-double this year, while Tobias Harris and Moe Harkless were spectacular in the second half of the season.
Oh, and they're all 22 or younger. They need minutes going forward.
A case can be made to put Harkless and Harris on the wing with Noel and Vucevic down low, but the Magic will also return Glen Davis, Andrew Nicholson and Kyle O'Quinn, all big men who boast intriguing potential.
Besides, some of their most efficient five-man lineups involved Arron Afflalo (at the 2), Harris (3) and Vucevic (5), or Afflalo (2), Harkless (3), Harris (4) and Vucevic (5).
Drafting Noel would take time away from some of Orlando's most talented young players.
While adding Ben McLemore—a guy who isn't a No. 1 option but has an NBA body, trampoline athleticism and a drop-dead gorgeous jump shot—in an instant-offense role off the bench makes sense for the league's fourth-worst offensive team, point guard is also an option.
Beno Udrih is hitting free agency in the summer, and Jameer Nelson, who has two years left on his contract, is 31 and played just 56 games this season.
Enter Trey Burke.
The dynamic Michigan point guard has never really stood out as an option for the top pick, but college basketball's best player is a true leader who makes everyone around him better, takes care of the ball and can knock down the big shot.
It's cliche, but Burke has the "it" factor. He's someone I would trust to run my team, no matter his height.
McLemore is the better prospect, but Burke fills a bigger need on the roster.
If Charlotte Gets the No. 1 Pick
Drafting Noel, a defensive superstar with raw potential on the offensive end, may remind the Bobcats a little too much of Bismack Biyombo, but that shouldn't sway them away from the Kentucky star.
As it stands right now, the Bobcats will enter 2014 with Biyombo, Tyrus Thomas, Byron Mullens and Brendan Haywood as their bigs.
You know it's bad when Josh McRoberts hitting free agency is seen as a serious hit to the roster.
Biyombo and Mullens can thrive in specialty roles off the bench, but if this team is ever going to rise from the cellar of the NBA, that can't be their starting frontcourt.
Noel is a project, and not only will he instantly improve the Bobcats' league-worst defensive efficiency, but he's a freakish athlete who would give Kemba Walker and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist a very intriguing partner in transition.
If Cleveland Gets the No. 1 Pick
I'm inclined to believe that this would also result in Nerlens Noel being the top choice, but it isn't quite as clear.
Most notably, the Cavs already have solid frontcourt depth.
Anderson Varejao looked like an All-Star at the beginning of the season before getting injured, and Tristan Thompson looked like an All-Star down the stretch.
Throw in last year's first-round pick Tyler Zeller, who has carved out a meaty role already, and Cleveland has depth in the middle.
Essentially, it comes down to the future of Varejao, who has two years left on his contract but was a popular trade target before being sidelined.
If the Cavs feel they can trade him still, this pick is likely Noel. If not, it's likely McLemore.
They have Dion Waiters to play next to Kyrie Irving, but McLemore would serve as a better shooter and more efficient scorer, while Waiters could come off the bench as the sixth man, a role more suited to his skill set.
An outside option here would be Otto Porter, a long, intelligent prospect with few weaknesses who could contribute right away at Cleveland's weakest position.
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