How Different Lottery Teams Should Use the First Pick, If They Get It

ATHENS, GA - FEBRUARY 19: Georgia guard Anthony Edwards examines the court during the first half of a college basketball game against Auburn on February 19, 2020, at Stegeman Coliseum in Athens, GA.
Austin McAfee/ Getty Images)

The 2019 draft lottery was the first with the new odds system, which was put on full display. It saw the Pelicans, Grizzlies, and Lakers jump from their projected picks of 7,8, and 12 to the top 4. The newly enforced system means that mid to late lottery teams have a much higher chance of obtaining a top pick. 

This year’s draft has no clear number one pick, meaning that the selection heavily depends on which team receives the pick. Some teams could even look to package the pick for a star player. Here is what each team not headed to Orlando should do if they are lucky enough to get the number one pick. 

Golden State Warriors: Trade for Another Star 

The Golden State Warriors are in a completely different situation from every other team on this list. With their all-stars back from injury next season, they should be contending for a title. They could utilize their number one pick by trading it for a superstar that fits their win-now mentality. They could use a package built around the first pick and Andrew Wiggins to try and acquire star names. Potential targets would be Bradley Beal, Joel Embiid, or even Giannis Antetokounmpo, assuming he does not sign a max extension. Depending on the caliber of the player they target, they may have to add young players like Eric Paschall, or future draft picks into the trade. 

Cleveland Cavaliers: Trade Down for Deni Avdija

The logic behind the Cavaliers trading down is purely based on roster fit. The two top players this year, LaMelo Ball and Anthony Edwards, are both guards. With Darius Garland and Collin Sexton both being 6’1and below-average defenders, there may not be a place in the lineup for either of these prospects. Trading down would land them a prospect who fits their team better, while also gaining future assets. 

Someone who fits in perfectly is Deni Avdija. The Israeli forward is an improved defender, who can guard multiple positions and has also made strides as a shooter. His playmaking and overall feel for the game could make him the perfect small forward to slot into this roster. Assuming Andre Drummond picks up his player option, a lineup of Garland, Sexton, Avdija, Love, and Drummond could push for the playoffs in the Eastern Conference. 

Minnesota Timberwolves: Draft Anthony Edwards

You could also make a strong case for the Timberwolves to take LaMelo Ball here, Anthony Edwards may be the better pick. Edwards would slot right into the shooting guard spot, and give Karl Anthony-Towns and D’Angelo Russell a third scoring option. This pick may not benefit the Wolves instantly, in a few years they could be a fierce big three with the potential to go deep into the playoffs. While Ball could also fill in that role of a secondary playmaker, his perimeter shooting and defensive woes would throw the Wolves off here, as those are their two biggest weaknesses. 

Atlanta Hawks: Draft Anthony Edwards

This may be the most straightforward decision for any team on this list. Edwards is a Georgia native who also attended the University of Georgia. He would fit perfectly alongside Trae Young in the backcourt, and form a solid core alongside Young, John Collins and Clint Capela. He could operate as a much needed secondary playmaker to Young, and his athletic prowess would give the Hawks another dangerous offensive option. With DeAndre Hunter at Small Forward and the likes of Kevin Huerter and Cam Reddish on the bench, they could be a top Eastern Conference team in coming years. 

Detroit Pistons: Draft LaMelo Ball

Wherever the Pistons land in the lottery, they should simply pick the best player available. Detroit are in a bad situation, and is in desperate need of some young talent. Derrick Rose in his contract year could serve as a perfect mentor to Ball, before departing and handing him the keys to the offense.

This selection would be similar to when the Atlanta Hawks drafted Trae Young back in 2018. Ball is an exciting Point Guard that will attract fans, and hopefully bring a troubled franchise back on track in the coming years. The Pistons would need to acquire many more pieces to have a bright future, but Ball could be the starting point of a turnaround for the Michigan franchise. 

New York Knicks: Draft LaMelo Ball

LaMelo Ball fits every one of the New York Knicks needs. Since Frank Ntilikina and Dennis Smith Jr have not worked out, the Knicks desperately need a point guard. LaMelo is a high potential combo guard, who will immediately become the face of the franchise. He would be no stranger to the high pressure given in New York, as he’s been under the spotlight since 9th grade. Although the Knicks need much more than just LaMelo to start competing again, it is a good starting point. A solid young big three would be formed alongside RJ Barrett and Mitchell Robinson, who have shown potential this past season. 

Chicago Bulls: Trade Down for Tyrese Haliburton or Killian Hayes

The Bulls had a very interesting season, ending below expectations as the 11th seed. Zach LaVine had a 25 PPG season, and rookie Coby White showed a drastic improvement after the all-star break. However, both of these guards are limited in terms of their playmaking and facilitation, which is where either of these prospects would come in. 

Tyrese Haliburton has a higher floor and will benefit Chicago more in the short term, but Killian Hayes offers more potential. Both are 6’5 guards with facilitation skills to be either a primary or secondary ball handler. Both would be a perfect fit next to White and allow LaVine to focus solely on scoring, not facilitating. 

Charlotte Hornets: Draft Anthony Edwards

The Charlotte Hornets are in a very tricky spot. They have Most Improved Player candidate Devonte’ Graham alongside Terry Rozier on the roster. Thus, a point guard may not be the right move for them. Anthony Edwards could be the young star that the Hornets desperately need. Furthermore, he would not need to play the role of a facilitator. He could focus on his main strength, which is scoring from all three levels. It could also improve the efficiency of Graham and Rozier. The pair would not have to take as many ill-advised shots with another scorer to share the load with.