George Berry: The NBA draft lottery that could change the future of basketball

Duke's Zion Williamson is the most anticipated prospect since LeBron James.
Duke's Zion Williamson is the most anticipated prospect since LeBron James. Photo credit: Getty

OPINION: While attention turns to the NBA playoff conference finals, beginning Wednesday, not-so-successful teams and their fans wait with baited breath for another event - the NBA draft lottery.

So how does it work?

The draft lottery, scheduled for 12:30pm (NZT) Wednesday, determines the order of selection for the first 14 picks of next month's 2019 NBA draft. The selection process is simple and traditional - 14 ping-pong balls (numbered 1 through 14) are placed in a lottery machine to then be pulled out at random.

The first four picks are selected by this method, then the next 10 are decided by the remaining teams’ season records.

Many casual basketball fans overlook this event and even diehard fans may turn a blind eye to it some years too, but this year’s draft lottery is probably the most anticipated since LeBron James’ 2003 draft.

That's because of another groundbreaking player could emerge to change the future of NBA basketball, as we know it.

His name is Zion Williamson.

Williamson has been on the radar of NBA scouts since his high-school career, where videos of the American (17 years old at the time) doing 360-degree dunks and leaping to the rim from the free-throw line went viral.

Williamson’s since spent a year at Duke University, finessing his opponents with his 2m (6ft 7in) height and whopping 129kg frame.

A player of that weight would usually be unattractive to NBA scouts, but what Williamson can do on a basketball court with his sheer strength, skill and physicality has almost never been seen before.

Zion Williamson highlights:

The 18-year-old’s been universally lauded by sports analysts and players, and is dead-set to be number one pick in the draft. Williamson’s even received praise from ‘The King’ himself.

“For his size, how strong he is, to be able to move like the way he moves, he’s very impressive," LeBron James said.

"I mean, everybody can see the athleticism. That’s obvious, that’s ridiculous, but the speed and the quickness that he moves with at that size is very impressive.”

Below the hype of Williamson on the projected draft boards are other extremely talented young stars that are sure to have the top four-teams licking their lips at what their futures in the league may look like going forward.

With all that in mind, here are the official odds for the bottom 14 teams.

  1. 1. New York Knicks (17-65) - 14 percent
  2. 2. Cleveland Cavaliers (19-63) - 14 percent
  3. 3. Phoenix Suns (19-63) - 14 percent
  4. 4. Chicago Bulls (22-60) - 12.5 percent
  5. 5. Atlanta Hawks (29-53) - 10.5 percent
  6. 6. Washington Wizards (32-50) - 9 percent
  7. 7. New Orleans Pelicans (33-49) - 6 percent
  8. 8. Memphis Grizzlies (33-49) - 6 percent
  9. 9. Dallas Mavericks (33-49) - 6 percent
  10. 10. Minnesota Timberwolves (36-46) - 3 percent
  11. 11. Los Angeles Lakers (37-45) - 2 percent
  12. 12. Charlotte Hornets (39-43) - 1 percent
  13. 13. Miami Heat (39-43) - 1 percent
  14. 14. Sacramento Kings (39-43) - 1 percent

The NBA draft is scheduled for Wednesday, June 19 in New York.

George Berry is a Newshub sports reporter.

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