NBA draft lottery’s 3 big winners and 3 big losers

These are the winners and losers of the 2018 NBA Draft lottery.

Ping pong balls have magical powers in the world of the NBA. On Tuesday night, they decided to grace the Phoenix Suns with the No. 1 overall pick in the 2018 NBA Draft.

The Suns have been in the lottery for eight straight years, but this is the first time in franchise history they’ve picked first overall. With an intriguing young core already in place, this pick presents the opportunity for Phoenix to accelerate its development curve and get back in the business of winning basketball games.

The Suns were the biggest winner of the lottery by virtue of winning the No. 1 pick. Other interested parties weren’t as lucky. Here are the biggest winners and losers of the 2018 NBA Draft lottery.

Winner: Luka Doncic

Arizona center Deandre Ayton was the player who most often appeared at No. 1 overall in mock drafts heading into the lottery. That might change now that Phoenix has officially landed the top pick.

The Suns hired Igor Kokoskov as their next head coach earlier this month. Who is Igor Kokoskov? He’s a former Utah Jazz assistant who was also Doncic’s head coach on the Slovenian national team in EuroBasket, where the team made a surprise run through the tournament to win the gold medal.

Yes, it’s easy to point out Ayton has connections to the state, too. But the Suns made an outside-the-box coaching hire with strong ties to Doncic when the franchise knew it would be picking near the top of the draft. Given that Phoenix has put the future of the team in Kokoskov’s hands, Doncic now seems like the favorite to go first overall.

Loser: Conspiracy theorists

This was not a good lottery for the tinfoil hat crowd. The top three picks went to small market teams in Phoenix, Sacramento and Atlanta. Meanwhile, the Chicago Bulls fell a spot in the lottery and the Knicks held steady at No. 9.

But hey: if you’re going to rig the lottery, you can’t rig it every year. Take solace in that, conspiracy theorists.

Winner: Sacramento Kings

The Kings were seventh in the lottery standings and jumped all the way up to No. 2. This will be the 12th straight year the Kings have picked in the lottery, but it’s the first time they’ve ever ended up in the top-three.

Well, the Kings did land at No. 3 last season, but that just so happened to be the year they had to pick swap with the 76ers. Sacramento would go down the No. 5 and take De’Aaron Fox, which may work out just fine. But the player who went No. 3 — Boston’s Jayson Tatum — already looks like a star.

The Kings look like they have the easiest call in the draft. Either Doncic or Ayton will go No. 1, and Sacramento gets the honor of taking the player leftover. Not bad.

Loser: Chicago Bulls

The Bulls were 3-20 overall with the league’s worst record at one point last season. Then Nikola Mirotic returned from his broken face, Chicago promptly reeled off a seven-game winning streak, and the Bulls’ lottery odds were instantly shot.

The Bulls were gunning for the No. 1 overall pick in this draft from the moment they decided to trade Jimmy Butler to Minnesota. It turns out they fell a spot after the lottery, and won’t pick until No. 7.

The worst part for the Bulls? If they would have lost the coin flip tiebreaker with the Kings, they’d be picking at No. 2:

Winner: Marvin Bagley

Bagley was always projected to be a high pick, but now it feels like there’s no doubt he’ll either go No. 3 to Atlanta or No. 4 to Memphis.

Atlanta already has a high-motor, inside scoring savant in its front court in John Collins, who the team drafted last year. That would make Bagley seem redundant on the same team, but the Hawks reportedly like him:

Sitting at No. 4 is the Memphis Grizzlies, where Bagley would be a great fit next to Marc Gasol. Gasol could protect the rim on defense and space the floor a bit on offense, easing Bagley’s transition to the league on both ends of the floor.

Loser: Dallas Mavericks

The Mavericks just can’t catch a break in the lottery. The silver lining is they found a pretty good player in Dennis Smith Jr. last year at No. 8. The pressure will be on to do it again picking fifth this year.

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