How will NBA draft lottery results affect off-season?

 
 
Updated 5/16/2019 6:13 AM
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  • Duke's Zion Williamson arrives for the NBA basketball draft lottery Tuesday, May 14, 2019, in Chicago.

    Duke's Zion Williamson arrives for the NBA basketball draft lottery Tuesday, May 14, 2019, in Chicago.

  • Duke's Zion Williamson, with brother Noah Anderson, before Tuesday's draft lottery in Chicago.

    Duke's Zion Williamson, with brother Noah Anderson, before Tuesday's draft lottery in Chicago. Associated Press

The draft lottery that shook the NBA produced some obvious winners and losers.

Let's run through the list to help speculate how Tuesday's anti-tanking lottery will impact the off-season.

Winners

New Orleans: The most obvious reaction is to assume the Pelicans winning the top pick and the right to draft Zion Williamson increases the chances that Anthony Davis will stay in town.

Don't be so sure. It's possible the Pelicans will collect Williamson and head into the final year of Davis' contract with a very interesting roster. But it seems unlikely to play Davis, Williamson and Julius Randle at the same time.

So getting Williamson might actually encourage New Orleans to move on from Davis. The Lakers jumping up to the No. 4 pick provides an ideal trade chip. The No. 4 pick, plus maybe Brandon Ingram and Kyle Kuzma, for Davis could set the Pelicans up for a nice long run of competitiveness.

L.A. Lakers:

The Lakers' ultimate plan of adding Davis plus a significant free agent remains in play. They moved up from the 11th-worst record to snag the No. 4 pick.

New York:

No, the Knicks didn't win the ultimate prize, but they were the only one of the four worst teams to stay in the top four. At No. 3, they're probably looking at Duke's R.J. Barrett, who has some star potential. A whiff in free agency would be more troubling for New York.

Memphis:

The Grizzlies will be in position to maneuver, either by trading veteran point guard Mike Conley or maybe auctioning off the No. 2 pick to the Ja Morant fans around the league.

Losers

Bulls:

The Bulls, Cavaliers and Suns all dropped three places, but the Bulls are the worst off, picking seventh. It's not the end of the world. Someone who will become a very good NBA player will be available at No. 7, now it's up to the Bulls to identify him.

Pressure is growing for the rebuild to show some progress next season, but at least the Bulls have a decent nucleus and some cap space to play with.

Speculation about Clippers point guard Patrick Beverley increased when he responded to a pro-Chicago tweet Tuesday. He's the kind of fiery competitor the Bulls need, but he's a starter on a playoff team. Unless the Clippers spend all their money on Kawhi Leonard, Beverley might be tough to reel in.

The process:

The anti-tanking lottery rules worked exactly as planned, leaving no incentive for teams to bottom out in hopes of getting the top pick. The Bulls are a perfect example. The past two seasons have been brutal, and they have two No. 7's to show for it.

Here's hoping the NBA manages to find a little parity in this era of superteams. The Bucks and Blazers reaching the conference finals for the first time in a combined 37 years isn't a bad start.

Zion Williamson:

The jury is out, but TV viewers got to watch his reaction to New Orleans winning the lottery and some have speculated he wasn't happy.

There's no avoiding the fact playing in a small market limits a player's visibility. It doesn't eliminate it, though. Russell Westbrook's brand has done just fine while spending his entire career in Oklahoma City.

No one has tried to force a trade from the team that drafted him since Steve Francis refused to go to Vancouver in 1999, so it's a longshot to think Zion might try to avoid the Pelicans. The Grizzlies made a terrible trade sending Francis to Houston and moved out of Vancouver shortly after.

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