Lottery Changes Little for Gators

Tuesday night's NBA Draft Lottery was a great night for the Pacific Northwest and a horrible one for Boston. While Portland and Seattle are celebrating that they will get the top two players in the draft – Greg Oden and Kevin Durant – the Celtics are mourning another lottery gone bad.

The weighted lottery also created one other big winner and big loser. The loser is Memphis which had the worst record in the league yet dropped to the fourth pick. The winner, Atlanta which keeps its pick at three (four or lower would have gone to Phoenix) and also gets pick # 11 from Indiana. If I were the Hawks, I would see if #3 plus # 11 might get them number one.

As for the Gators in the draft it doesn't change much. Florida's triumvirate of Joakim Noah, Al Horford and Corey Brewer all seem certain to be top ten picks, though one may slide to # 11. That means plenty of money and plenty of opportunity for them to get on the court as rookies.

The NBA Draft is still more than a month away, but just about everyone who follows the game is ready with their early projection at least as far as the lottery is concerned. I certainly didn't want to be left out, so here goes. This is my look at how the top twelve will play out.

# 1 Portland --- Greg Oden ----- Leave me out of the group that believes this is a tough call. Oden is a clear # 1 pick and gives Portland a great combo with NBA rookie of the year Brandon Roy. The big kid from Ohio State will be a force from day one and will succeed Tim Duncan one day as the best big man in the league.

# 2 Seattle --- Kevin Durant ----- The not-so-super Sonics need more than just one guy and if Atlanta is willing to deal for Durant they should take # 3 and # 11 in a heart beat. If no great deal is offered, the choice is clear.

# 3 Atlanta --- Mike Conley ----- This is a clear "need" pick for the best point guard in the draft for a team that passed on Chris Paul and Deron Williams in recent years. They would like to trade down several spots and still make this pick, but I'm assuming that doesn't happen. If they pick another forward General Sherman just might come back and finish the job. Conley will be a terrific pro and they can get a quality big guy at # 11.

# 4 Memphis --- Yi Jianlian ----- A solid pick that may well be a precursor to dealing Pau Gasol. Jianlian is just about seven feet tall and has excellent athletic ability. He'll handle the transition from China better than Yao Ming did because he already speaks decent English.

# 5 Boston --- Brendan Wright ----- The North Carolina product has a similar skill set to Durant, but nowhere near the work ethic and intensity. If he finds that drive and passion the Celtics might not have to look back on this lottery as they do the one that cost them Duncan a decade ago.

# 6 Milwaukee --- Al Horford ----- The Bucks need someone to get in there and bang to compensate for the competitively challenged Charlie Villanueva. Having Horford available at # 6 is a pleasant surprise. Taking him won't make the team selecting next happy at all.

# 7 Minnesota --- Joakim Noah ----- With Horford off the board, Minnesota goes for the best Gator available. Noah and Garnett give them an interesting tandem and a franchise that seems headed in the wrong direction gets an infusion of energy and personality is desperately needs.

# 8 Charlotte --- Corey Brewer ----- The Bobcats might have chosen Roy Hibbert here if the Georgetown big man had stayed in the draft. Instead they get "Spiderman" and he's also a good fit for the Bobcats.

# 9 Chicago --- Spencer Hawes ----- Hawes fills the Bulls' need for a low post scorer, but the plodding big man will slow them down, too. Hawes might end up being the next Bryant "Big Country" Reaves, which is not terrible, but nothing special.

# 10 Sacramento --- Julian Wright ----- The Kings are determined to rid themselves of Ron Artest (hello, Isiah?) so drafting a replacement makes sense. Wright, a superior athlete has great potential and he gets the nod over Jeff Green who is the superior player.

# 11 Atlanta --- Jason Smith ----- This might be a reach, but I think Smith makes a lot of sense for a team that has the personnel to be more of a transition basketball team. The seven-footer from Colorado State is an excellent athlete and not afraid to bang around. He doesn't have the offensive skill of more highly rated Spencer Hawes, but he fits what the Hawks want to become.

# 12 Philadelphia --- Jeff Green ----- The Sixers probably want to trade out because what they really need is one of the top four or five power forwards in the draft and they are all gone. Still, Green is big enough to give them some rebounding and low post scoring and has plenty of "upside".

So that's how I see it at this stage. Brewer could very well go sooner, but if the Hawks take Conley it shakes everything up. We shall see.

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