Before two of the NBA’s best squared off in the Eastern Conference Finals last night, the 14 teams that missed the playoffs were watching lottery balls decide their futures. The Orlando Magic won the Draft Lottery for the fourth time in franchise history, and will hold the No. 1 overall pick in next month’s 2022 NBA Draft.
According to most mock drafts, there is no consensus top pick, but the Magic will likely choose between Auburn’s Jabari Smith, Gonzaga’s Chet Holmgren and Duke’s Paolo Banchero. All three are dynamic frontcourt players who would add to Orlando’s rising young core of Cole Anthony, Mo Bamba, Wendell Carter, Jr., Markelle Fultz, Jalen Suggs and Franz Wagner.
The previous three times the Magic won the Draft Lottery turned out to be legendary scenarios. In 1992, Orlando got the top slot and drafted some guy you may have heard of named Shaquille O’Neal from LSU. The next year, the Magic again won the Draft Lottery and Michigan’s Chris Webber was the consensus No. 1 pick. Orlando did not want another big man, so they drafted the coveted Webber and then traded him to the Golden State Warriors for then-little-known point guard Penny Hardaway from Memphis, along with three future first-round picks.
The most recent time the Magic won the Draft Lottery was in 2004 – a year after LeBron James went to Cleveland – when high schooler Dwight Howard was the top player available. Howard went on to have a Hall of Fame career and helped lead Orlando to six-straight playoff berths from 2007-2012, including an appearance in the 2009 NBA Finals.
Selections Set for Thursday, June 23 in Brooklyn
Rounding out the top three picks were the Oklahoma City Thunder at No. 2 and the Houston Rockets at No. 3. It is likely that Smith, Holmgren and Banchero go 1-2-3 in some order or another, although experts are saying Purdue’s Jaden Ivey should also be included in that conversation.
The Thunder boast the most draft capital of anyone in the NBA, with the rights to the Los Angeles Clippers’ No. 12 overall pick – which they received as a part of the deal that sent Paul George to Hollywood in 2019. Oklahoma City also has the Phoenix Suns’ No. 30 overall pick from the trade that sent Chris Paul to The Valley in 2020, and then their own second-round pick at No. 34 overall.
There were a few other interesting tidbits from the night as well. The Indiana Pacers slotted in at No. 6. The last time the Pacers had the sixth selection? Indiana chose Indiana State’s Larry Bird in the 1978 NBA Draft. The Sacramento Kings had the biggest jump, having the seventh-worst record this season but ending up with the No. 4 pick. The Los Angeles Lakers appeared at No. 8, and that selection will go to the New Orleans Pelicans as part of the 2019 trade that sent Anthony Davis out west.
The 2022 NBA Draft will take place on Thursday, June 23 at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York.