Winners, losers of draft lottery after Dubs nab Wolves' pick originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea
Finally. No more odds to calculate. No more pick swaps to be determined. The 2021 NBA Draft Lottery came and went Tuesday, and now we have much more clarity about how the draft will ultimately proceed on July 29.
There weren't any major surprises in the draft lottery that would feed the efforts of conspiracy theorists, but there were moments of elation for several teams, and matching disappointment for others. Ultimately, teams will still have to make the right selections, but some are now in a much better position to do so.
Here are some winners and losers from the 2021 NBA Draft Lottery:
Winner: Toronto Raptors
The first (latter) half of the draft lottery went chalk, as none of the teams that were slotted for pick Nos. 8 through 14 jumped into the top four selections. The Raptors were the first team to buck that trend.
Toronto was slotted seventh going into the lottery, but jumped up three spots to the fourth overall pick -- the largest jump made by any team in the lottery this year. That's a huge boon to the Raptors, who are entering a critical offseason and could very well lose Kyle Lowry in free agency. With the fourth pick, they could potentially add his replacement in Jalen Suggs. Regardless, they're in a great spot.
Loser: Cade Cunningham
The 2021 draft class is widely regarded as one of the best in two decades, and Cunningham is the consensus top prospect within it. He projects as a perennial All-Star and a franchise-changer. But if you were to ask him his ideal landing spot, chances are it was not Detroit.
It's fantastic for the Pistons, no doubt. He'll immediately step in as one of their best players, and is a tremendous building block for that franchise. But Cunningham is going to need a lot of help. The Pistons have one of the worst rosters in the league, and they're certainly not a marquee free-agent destination. Cunningham is a phenomenal prospect, but if it's Detroit, he won't be entering a phenomenal situation.
Winner: Cleveland Cavaliers
The Cavs got lucky in the draft lottery. Some things never change.
The franchise that has landed the most No. 1 picks in NBA draft lottery history didn't add another to that tally, but came pretty close. Cleveland was slotted fifth going into the lottery, but jumped up to the third overall selection.
Outside of the first pick, that's a near-ideal scenario for the Cavs. Assuming they re-sign Jarrett Allen, they already have the center position locked up moving forward, so they can focus on the premier wing prospects at the top of the draft. Jalen Green seems like a perfect fit and probably will be the frontrunner for Rookie of the Year if that's how it works out.
Loser: Minnesota Timberwolves
Andrew Wiggins is a far more impactful and important player in the modern NBA than D'Angelo Russell is. Full stop. That was already a one-sided trade in the Warriors' favor, and the draft lottery was going to determine just how much of a steal it was.
In addition to Wiggins, the Warriors also got Minnesota's top-three protected 2021 first-round pick, meaning that if it landed outside of the first three overall selections, it would convey to Golden State. That's precisely what happened, as the T-Wolves pick landed seventh in the lottery, meaning the Warriors will have the seventh and 14th overall selections in the 2021 NBA Draft.
On one hand, it wasn't the worst possible scenario for the T-Wolves. Had the pick landed fourth overall, then it would have been an absolute disaster for them. But while the seventh pick is definitely more palatable, it still stings a lot. That's one fewer young lottery pick to add to their core, not to mention one fewer asset, and there's no reason to expect Minnesota to be a significantly improved team next season in what remains an extremely stacked Western Conference.
The T-Wolves had already lost the Wiggins-Russell trade. On Tuesday, they lost it even more.