There was no lottery magic and thus no lottery leap for the Miami Heat Tuesday night.
The team with the worst odds of winning the weighted-lottery coming in (0.5 percent), the Heat will pick right where it was slotted to – at No. 14 – in next month’s NBA Draft, which will be held June 22 at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y.
The Boston Celtics, which open the Eastern Conference Finals at home against the Cleveland Cavaliers Wednesday night, will draft first followed by the Los Angeles Lakers and Philadelphia 76ers. The Phoenix Suns, who had the second-worst record in the league last season, will pick fourth.
Boston came in with the best odds of winning the draft. They own the top pick thanks to a 2013 trade they made when they shipped off All-Stars Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce for multiple Brooklyn draft picks including the right to swap the 2017 pick.
“This is pretty good – this is a good time to be a Celtics fan,” said Celtics co-owner Wyc Grousbeck, who represented the team at the lottery. “I wish the draft were today. We could get a little help for tomorrow night. But this is a great night.”
With only a 1.8 percent chance total of reaching the top three, the Heat, which finished 41-41 and missed the playoffs on a head-to-head tiebreaker with the Chicago Bulls, would have become the luckiest team in NBA Lottery history had they somehow managed to crack the top three.
Now, instead of choosing among the likes of franchise-changing talents like Washington point guard Markelle Fultz, UCLA point guard Lonzo Ball, Kansas forward Josh Jackson or Duke’s Jayson Tatum, the Heat will be left to choose from the middle of the first round where Vice President of Player Personnel Chet Kammerer believes Miami can still draft a rotational-type player.
“This is a very good draft,” Kammerer last week at the NBA Combine in Chicago. “I think it’s very good at the top of the draft. I don’t know if the players at the top of the draft are going to make a huge difference their first year or two because they’re so young. But I think down the road this could end up being a really special draft.
“There’s so much potential and so many boxes you check off from their character, their skill level, their athleticism. They have combinations of players high in the draft that I think are going to be really good NBA players.”
The group the Heat could be looking at closely includes five quality big men or stretch fours: Gonzaga’s Zach Collins (7-0, 232), Texas’ Jarrett Allen (6-10, 233), Wake Forest’s John Collins (6-9 ½, 225), Cal’s Ivan Rabb (6-10, 220) and UCLA’s TJ Leaf (6-10, 222). Among the potential available wings and shooting guards are North Carolina’s Justin Jackson (6-8, 200), Indiana’s OG Anunoby (6-8, 232), Louisville’s Donovan Mitchell (6-3, 211), Duke’s Luke Kennard (6-5 ½, 196) and Terrance Ferguson (6-7, 185), who played overseas this past season in Australia.
Heat general manager Andy Elisburg represented the team during the actual lottery drawing, which occured about an hour prior to ESPN’s televised broadcast of the unveiling of the draft order. Hall of Famer Alonzo Mourning, Vice President of Player Programs, represented the Heat on stage.
In its nine previous lottery appearances, Miami had never gained ground and instead had dropped position in a handful of those drawings.
“We’re in purgatory,” Heat president Pat Riley said last month a few days after the Heat’s season ended. “What I mean by that, either win a championship, make the playoffs or get the first pick in the draft. Everybody else is in purgatory. That’s where we are right now. It’s sort of between heaven and hell. That’s where we are. But we like 12 through 20.”
Fultz, projected by most to be the No. 1 pick in the draft, attended Tuesday’s lottery.
Ball, who has drawn criticism because of his father LaVar and because the family’s new shoe line Big Baller Brand is selling its most expensive pair for $495, did not attend attend the lottery.
“Personally, I think I just can fill up the stat sheet in any way,” Fultz said when asked on the broadcast why he thinks he’s the best player in the draft. “... I think I'm a good teammate too.”
The Lakers figure to face tremendous pressure from fans in Southern California to keep Ball at home in L.A.
Los Angeles entered Tuesday’s lottery with only a 46.9 percent chance of keeping its pick. Had the Lakers fallen out of the top three its pick would have gone to Philadelphia.
“I feel good,” Lakers President of Basketball Operations Magic Johnson told ESPN moments before the lottery drawing. “Whether we keep [the pick] or not, we’re going to be a successful franchise and if we’re able to keep it we’re going to get a talented young player.”
NBA DRAFT ORDER