Blazers win draft lottery
SECAUCUS, N.J. (AP) ” The Portland Trail Blazers beat the odds and won the right to settle the Greg Oden-Kevin Durant debate.
With just a 5.3 percent chance of winning the No. 1 pick, the Blazers won the NBA’s draft lottery Tuesday night, earning the right to draft a potential franchise player from what’s considered to be an excellent class.
Represented by Rookie of the Year Brandon Roy, the Blazers got a head start on landing next year’s top rookie. They will almost certainly choose between Oden, the Ohio State center, or Durant, Texas’ high-scoring forward.
Both players are likely headed to the Northwest, as Seattle also moved up into second. Atlanta got the third pick ” and needed it. Falling out of the top three would have meant sending the pick to Phoenix.
Memphis and Boston, which had the worst records in the league and the best chance of landing in the top two, slipped to fourth and fifth, respectively.
With Oden and Durant highlighting a draft that includes the core of Florida’s consecutive NCAA championship teams, the June 28 draft in New York is expected to be one of the NBA’s best in years.
“Tonight we’re looking at what’s probably going to be the deepest draft in a couple of decades,” commissioner David Stern said earlier Tuesday.
The presence of the two freshmen superstars added more hype than usual to this year’s lottery. There were nearly 100 media credential requests, far more than usual.
It also led to speculation that some teams didn’t try their best to win games, hoping to improve their chances of landing a top-two pick. Because of all the tanking talk, Stern said he wants NBA owners to look at the lottery this summer to see if a new system is needed.
But the losing didn’t pay off. The Grizzlies had a 25 percent chance of winning No. 1 after finishing with the league’s worst record, but they will pick fourth in Jerry West’s last draft with the team. Ten years after missing out on Tim Duncan, Boston had more lottery heartbreak, falling from the No. 2 spot. Milwaukee will go sixth.
Oden averaged 15.7 points, 9.6 rebounds and 3.3 rebounds while leading Ohio State to the national championship game, even though he was limited for much of the season while recovering from right wrist surgery.
Durant was even better in his only season at Texas, becoming the first freshman in NCAA history to win player of the year honors. The 6-foot-9 forward led the Big 12 with 25.8 points and 11.1 rebounds per game, and was the AP national player of the year.