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As the NBA begins its trajectory toward the restart of the regular season, it’s evident that change isn’t just good, it’s necessary.
Commissioner Adam Silver oversaw the protocols for teams to follow while in the “bubble” at ESPN’s Wide World of Sports Complex at the Disney campus near Orlando, Florida.
From the outset, players’ situations have been a bit of a moving target, so the league has had to pivot on the fly to account for those various instances.
And while the games are set to begin with a must-see double-header on Thursday, the NBA has had to make another adjustment, this time to the 2020 draft lottery, moving it up from Aug. 25 to Aug. 20, according to The Athletic and Stadium’s Shams Charania.
With the new date locked in, teams hoping to reverse their fortunes are now laser-focused on the hope that the ping-pong balls bounce their way.
This season, there’s no Zion Williamson to contend for, but there are three prospects vying to come off the board with the No. 1 pick: LaMelo Ball, Anthony Edwards and James Wiseman.
No matter which team wins the lottery, though, there are a slew of great players in the top 14 to choose from on draft night, which is slated for Oct. 16.
Here’s the latest look at the lottery and odds ahead of the NBA restart in Florida.
Projected Draft Order and Lottery Odds
1. Golden State Warriors (15-50); 14.0 percent chance for No. 1 pick; 52.1 percent for top-four pick
2. Cleveland Cavaliers (19-46); 14.0 percent; 52.1 percent
3. Minnesota Timberwolves (19-45); 14.0 percent; 52.1 percent
4. Atlanta Hawks (20-47); 12.5 percent; 48.1 percent
5. Detroit Pistons (20-46); 10.5 percent; 42.1 percent
6. New York Knicks (21-45); 9.0 percent; 37.2 percent
7. Chicago Bulls (22-43); 7.5 percent; 32 percent
8. Charlotte Hornets (23-42); 6.0 percent; 26.3 percent
9. Washington Wizards (24-40); 4.5 percent; 20.3 percent
10. Phoenix Suns (26-39); 3.0 percent; 13.9 percent
11. San Antonio Spurs (27-36); 2.0 percent; 9.4 percent
12. (Tie) Sacramento Kings (28-36); 1.3 percent; 6.2 percent
12. (Tie) New Orleans Pelicans (28-36); 1.2 percent; 5.7 percent
14. Portland Trailblazers (29-37); 0.5 percent; 2.4 percent
Will the Ball be in the Knicks’ Court?
At this point, it’s no secret that the New York Knicks have eyes for LaMelo Ball, and it’s equally known that he wants to play for New York.
For the Knicks to land the 18-year-old, it’s going to come down to one of two things: Either they get lucky at the lottery or swing for the fence on a draft-day trade.
However, they could also beaten out all together by another team looking for a point guard with a high ceiling and built-in star power.
According to Bleacher Report’s Jonathan Wasserman, multiple teams are looking at moving up or down based on where they land in the lottery:
“The question is whether there will enough teams willing to trade an asset to move up. The belief is that if teams are looking to move up, it will be a franchise trying to land [LaMelo] Ball. The New York Knicks are assumed to be interested in him. The Chicago Bulls and Orlando Magic would also make sense as teams with needs for a passer and assets to trade.”
The Knicks made headlines at the weekend with the reported hiring of Tom Thibodeau to a five-year deal as their new head coach, per ESPN’s Adrian Wojnorowski.
With the 62-year-old running the show from the sidelines, New York will need the right player to run the show on the court. It’s hoping that can be Ball.
At 6’7″, the young lead guard comes equipped with an elite trifecta of otherworldly court vision, passing ability and ball-handling skills.
His shot needs work, as evidenced by his shooting 38 percent shooting from the floor (25 percent from three), but he was still able to separate himself while playing on the offensive end for the National Basketball League’s Illawarra Hawks.
In 12 games in Australia, he averaged 17 points, 7.4 rebounds and 6.8 assists. More important than that, though, he showed he can lead a team and handle the spotlight.
Those attributes will come in handy with the Knicks, who still hold the title as the NBA’s most valuable franchise and play in Madison Square Garden, the Mecca of Basketball.
That’s exactly the reason why Ball’s father, LaVar, wants him to land in the Big Apple.
The ubiquitous patriarch of the Ball family told The Undisputed in March that his son needs to be in New York (h/t USA Today):
“The best fit, in my eyes, is New York. The New York Knicks because I know Melo. Melo is a big-city guy. He likes that. He’d love it. So everybody’s talking about the city type of thing. Cleveland, he already lived in Cleveland. He don’t like that cold weather like that—especially if you’re not going to be inside with a lot of bright lights.
“So I think it’s about time for New York. I kind of feel like they’re going to get the first pick, on the fact that they missed it so many times and it’s time for it to happen to them.”
Luck is what it comes down to for the Knicks. If they land the No.1 pick, it’s a done deal; if they don’t, they had better get ready to make a deal.
They’ll likely be looking to package players such as Kevin Knox, Frank Ntilikina, Elfrid Payton and Dennis Smith Jr. with picks to move up to get Ball.
Mortgaging the future for one player can be risky, but for New York—which hasn’t sniffed the playoffs since 2013 when they lost to the Boston Celtics in the Eastern Conference semi-finals—it’s a gamble worth taking.
Follow Maurice Bobb on Twitter, @ReeseReport