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NBA Draft Lottery winners and losers feature Hawks, Spurs, Raptors

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Sunday’s NBA Draft lottery was a big day for the bottom teams in the league.

Last year, only four franchises fell below 30 wins. This season, seven were below that mark. These teams went through some serious pain to try and get a top pick. 

Was the losing worth it? With the flattening out 
of the lottery odds that happened in 2019

, the incentive for tanking has declined significantly. That didn’t stop the Raptors and Jazz from making hard pivots midway through their season to improve their draft luck. Other teams (looking at you, Pistons) were flat-out bad while trying their hardest to win as much as possible. 

The payout came on Sunday, leaving some very happy and unhappy teams. Here are the winners and losers from the lottery ball extravaganza. 

MORE: 
Complete two-round 2024 NBA mock draft, updated before the Draft Lottery

The Hawks came into the day with only a 3.0 percent shot at landing the top pick. They cashed in on their longshot bet, winning the right to select first in the draft. It’s their first time with the No. 1 pick since 1975 when they selected David Thompson.

This was supposed to be a summer of big change for Atlanta. The Trae Young and Dejounte Murray duo hasn’t produced great results, and one of them may be out the door. Having the No. 1 pick will certainly be a huge asset in reshaping the team going forward.

The Hawks have instantly become one of the most interesting teams to track this summer. 

The Spurs had a 54.1 percent chance of getting a top-six protected pick from the Raptors. That worked out almost perfectly. The Raptors were pushed down to the No. 8 pick, which they promptly shipped over to San Antonio. 

The Spurs also had a 42.1 percent shot of having their own pick land in the top four. They nabbed that No. 4 pick to go along with No. 8. 

The Spurs have some great options with those picks. Every single decision going forward should be made with a focus on who will fit well next to Victor Wembanyama. They badly need an upgrade at point guard, and there are some nice options in this draft at where they’re selecting. 

Nikola Topic is an intriguing option out of Serbia. He has great positional size at 6-5 and can collapse defenses with his driving ability. Kentucky guards Reed Sheppard and Rob Dillingham are also options, as is defensive ace Stephon Castle out of UConn. 

The Spurs may not have won many games last year, but they have a chance to turn things around very quickly as Wemby gets even better and they add some young talent in this draft. 

MORE: Victor Wembanyama and Spurs have set themselves up for a monster summer

In a normal year, teams would be thrilled about winning the lottery. This is far from the average draft, though. There is still no consensus for the top pick, let alone the top four. The potential for an Anthony Bennett-level bust is extremely high. 

There is a lot of pressure that is going to come for the Hawks, Wizards, Rockets and Spurs. They are probably not going to get those picks right. Worse still, those could be very costly errors. The guaranteed salaries for those picks will be between $7.6 and $10.5 million in Year 1, per RealGM

Picking at the top is still obviously preferred, but this is also a great draft to select in the middle of the lottery. The chances are much higher than normal that the best players from this class will come in that range.

For fans of these franchises, they should not feel too bad about “losing” the lottery, and instead get in the weeds of draft evaluation. This is very similar to Bennett’s 2013 draft in that the best player, who in that class was Giannis Antetokounmpo selected at 15, might come out of nowhere. 

It was a good year for French basketball players. Wembanyama absolutely looked like the real deal, and countryman Rudy Gobert won the Defensive Player of the Year award. 

Two more big man lottery prospects are on their way.
Alex Sarr and Zaccharie Risacher are mocked by Sporting News expert Kyle Irving

at Nos. 1 and 4, respectively. That would have them going to the Hawks and Spurs.

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