The Cavaliers didn’t get the grand prize. Nor did they get one of the big consolation prizes.
Represented onstage by the previously lucky Nick Gilbert, the son of team owner Dan Gilbert, Cleveland wound up with the fifth pick Tuesday at the NBA Draft Lottery in Chicago.
That means the Cavs won’t be getting Duke forward Zion Williamson, the consensus No. 1 pick, as the New Orleans Pelicans, slated to choose seventh if the revamped lottery went according to form, got the first selection despite having just a 6 percent chance.
Barring a trade or something totally unexpected, the Cavs also won’t get Duke swingman RJ Barrett or Murray State point guard Ja Morant, widely regarded as the next-best players in the June 20 NBA Draft.
By picking fifth in what is considered a mediocre draft class beyond the top three, Cleveland will likely be choosing from among players like Virginia’s DeAndre Hunter, North Carolina’s Coby White and Nassir Little, Texas Tech’s Jarrett Culver, Vanderbilt’s Darius Garland, Texas’ Jaxson Hayes, Duke’s Cam Reddish, Oregon’s Bol Bol and France’s Sekou Doumbouya.
The Cavs, along with the New York Knicks and Phoenix Suns, entered the lottery with a league-high 14 percent chance of getting the No. 1 pick. The Knicks wound up with the third choice and the Suns, who picked first last year, fell to sixth.
Memphis, which had just the eighth-best odds coming in, wound up with the second pick. The Los Angeles Lakers moved up from 11th to fourth.
In addition to their 14 percent chance at No. 1, the Cavs had a 13.4 percent chance of picking second, a 12.7 percent chance of picking third, a 12 percent chance of picking fourth, a 27.8 percent chance of picking fifth and a 20 percent chance of picking sixth.
That means Cleveland, which tied Phoenix for the second-worst record in the league at 19-63, ended up with the pick it had the highest percentage chance of landing.
The Cavs had great luck in the lottery in previous years, getting the No. 1 pick in 2003 (LeBron James), 2011 (Kyrie Irving), 2013 (Anthony Bennett) and 2014 (Andrew Wiggins, who was traded to the Minnesota Timberwolves in the deal that brought Kevin Love to Cleveland).
There were rumors before the lottery that the league-worst Knicks (17-65) were open to trading the No. 1 pick, if they got it, to the Pelicans in exchange for disgruntled All-Star power forward Anthony Davis.
Now that New Orleans already has the top choice, it potentially could deal Davis to New York and have the opportunity to select Barrett or Morant at No. 3. Under the direction of former Cavs general manager David Griffin, the Pelicans also may be able to convince Davis that teaming with the 6-foot-7, 285-pound Williamson makes it worth staying in New Orleans.
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