2019 was the best NBA Draft lottery ever
So much suspense. So much drama. And it all tied together with a satisfying conclusion.
The 2019 NBA Draft Lottery was the most dramatic, unpredictable and nerve-wracking 20-minute mini-show in recent memory. It was a win for fans, for the league, and above all, a New Orleans Pelicans team in flux. It couldn’t have been scripted much better, and dang, all I can think about is how I want more.
With the three worst teams having equal and lowered chances to earn top picks, and the top four picks hand-selected by ping pong balls instead of just the top three, the 2019 lottery was given the space to be the league’s chaotic yet. And it stepped up to the plate.
There were four major storylines coming in:Who would land Zion Williamson. Would the Knicks go No. 1? Would the Lakers get a better pick to trade for Anthony Davis? If not the Lakers, who would?
By the first and only commercial break, we were still wondering those very same things. All of the drama was saved until the bitter end, which was perfect.
The teams were called out from worst to best pick, like usual, and we slowly learned that the Lakers had jumped from 11th-best odds at the top pick, to minimally selecting No. 4. Then came the Grizzlies and Pelicans jumping inside the top-4 with 7th- and 8th-best odds, saving room for only the Knicks to join them at the last second. Three of the worst teams that no neutral wanted to have Zion anyway (the Suns, Cavaliers, and Bulls) were all off the table.
Then the lottery took a commercial pause, leaving the entire NBA universe hanging in limbo. It was the cruelest, most marvelous and gut-punching thing the league could do at that point. The potential outcomes at that stage were endless.
For the Knicks:Are they finally getting Zion, the savior they’ve needed for decades? Actually wait, are they trading Zion for Anthony Davis? And then signing Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving? Can this REALLY be happening?
For the Pelicans:AD AND ZION? Is AD going to stay now? Was this disaster of a season actually the best thing ever?
For the Lakers:LeBron and Zion!?! No Magic, you can’t come back. Trade all the kids and more for AD!
For the Grizzlies:Could they ruin all of the above?
The build-up before the top picks were announced was suspenseful, but felt fair and the payout felt earned. Watching Knicks and Lakers fans have their spirits lifted and crushed in a matter of seconds was as Hollywood as possible. The fate of these franchises were literally within grasp. Zion is the most hyped NBA Draft pick since LeBron James. And that made the outcome that much more spectacular.
And then the team that fired its GM, lost the trust of its superstar, and spent the entire second half of the season figuring out how to peacefully force said superstar to play again, was handed the decade’s greatest gift. Zion not only fell into the Pelicans’ lap, but so did another possible reason for Anthony Davis to rescind his trade request. The spotlight is back on one of the league’s biggest superstars in a way nobody thought possible. A guy who was wiped from the team’s jumbotron pregame video and wore a “That’s All Folks” Looney Tunes to the final game of the season might just come back.
For now, according to The Athletic’s Shams Charania, his request to leave remains, but there’s time.
Like any good drama, there are still unresolved questions. The Lakers add a No. 4 pick to their vault of 20-somethings to move for AD and the Knicks can still find a star at No. 3, but neither situation is as resolved as they would have been had either won the lottery.
This draft lottery was awesome, and I’m more excited for next year’s than I’d ordinarily be. All hail the new tank-less lottery era.