Nothin' but Net: Making sense of the lottery

The future of 14 teams hang in the balance Tuesday night when the Draft Lottery takes place.

Generally, winning the lottery is a good thing.

That is not the case Tuesday night.

The lottery was created to help the poor get rich, or at least respectable. It was the Robin Hood of competitive sports drafting systems. That is, except for the years when commissioner David Stern rigged it for the New York Knicks to take Patrick Ewing and last year when the NBA-owned New Orleans Hornets (now Pelicans) won the sweepstakes for Anthony Davis.

And make no mistake, winning last year's lottery was a jackpot. Davis finished second in the rookie of the year race and is a franchise cornerstone.

The Orlando Magic are the winners (aka losers) this year. They finished with the worst record in the NBA and have the most ping-pong balls in play. They have a 25 percent chance of snatching that coveted No. 1 pick.

Whoever that shall be.

The 2013 NBA Draft is being labeled one of the worst in recent memory. It's reminding people of the 2000 NBA Draft. Fifty-eight players went that night about 12 years and 11 months ago. Three made an All-Star appearance - No. 1 Kenyon Martin, No. 19 Jamaal Magloire and No. 43 Michael Redd.

(Martin went first, but can you name the picks 2-4?)

(Stromile Swift, Darius Miles and Marcus Fizer. Ouch.)

So this year's draft is being compared to that group of dreck.

The Magic, as well as maybe 8-10 of the lottery-bound teams, would likely peg Nerlens Noel, the 7-foot center from Kentucky, with the first pick. He came out after his freshman year in Lexington and is by no means the slam dunk Davis was in the same spot 12 months prior.

Noel is a defensive force, much like Davis. Noel blocked shots in college, he rebounded in college and his offense began to improve a bit while in college.

Of course, Noel's anterior cruciate ligament also snapped in college. He didn't work out for any teams and won't because he's nowhere near ready for any basketball activities.

So, the presumptive No. 1 pick in the 2013 NBA Draft can barely walk. The injury is not the only red flag with Noel. He weighs less than most point guards do and in fact weighs less than most college kids' backpacks. Noel could've used the "freshman 15."

But that is the best of the best.

Another name you'll hear for the No. 1 pick is Ben McLemore, the shooting guard from Kansas. He's an above-average shooter and athlete, but won't transform your franchise. Remember, that kind of makeover is theoretically possible - Kevin Durant went second in the draft.

Georgetown's Otto Porter or Michigan's Trey Burke could sneak into the top spot under the right circumstances. Or the wrong ones.

This draft has some great potential eighth men in rotations, but not much more. Noel could emerge into a defensive specialist. McLemore can definitely shoot, and that's something in short supply in the NBA.

A guy like Victor Oladipo of Indiana is someone who could carve out a niche in the league as a maximum-effort player. His offense has improved over his time in Indiana, but he's not a building block for the future (sadly, after Noel, I like him the most).

There's no major impact guy in this draft. The players will probably amount to more than Swift or Miles or Fizer, but that's not the largest compliment one can pay an NBA player.

We will still watch both the lottery on Tuesday, then the draft on June 27. We always do. As fans, there still gleams the ray of optimism. "Our team won the lottery!" You believe your team, which generally stinks if it's in the lottery, can turn it around with this new member of the team.

Just warning you, that probably won't happen. Not in this draft.