Evaluating Early Favorites to Become the NBA Draft #1 Overall Pick

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At this point of the season, winning actually lies in losing for many NBA teams. True victory comes from tanking, getting the most lottery balls for the draft, and hoping that they can nab the top selection come May and then take whichever prospect is considered the most franchise impactful comes that Thursday night in June. As it stands right now, the Golden State Warriors, New York Knicks and Cleveland Cavaliers are the three teams tied for the best chance (14%) of landing the #1 overall pick.

The Warriors have fallen from grace in a hurry, and it’s worth noting that they have a 48% chance of landing the fifth pick in the draft. Their rapid free-fall wasn’t anticipated by many who make free NBA predictions against the spread as their dynasty is still in fresh in all our minds. Of course, the Cavaliers win the NBA Draft lottery ping pong balls game unlike any franchise in league history.

new york knicks nba draft lottery

And of course the Knicks, as we already chronicled, are a major mess that is going to take several NBA Drafts and multiple free agent cycles to resolve. But who is going to be there awaiting his name getting called first overall on draft night?

We went through several NBA mock drafts and we found that the most popular prospect in the penthouse suite is Memphis freshman center James Wiseman. The teenager who has been unfairly scrutinized by the NCAA is slotted #1 overall in My NBA Draft.com,  Tankathon #8 and Yahoo!.

Another freshman, Georgia shooting guard Anthony Edwards, is top pick in the NBA Draft.net mock. And another freshman guard, North Carolina point man Cole Anthony is top dog according to NBC and Sporting News. You’ll notice one major name missing here- LaMelo Ball. The USA point guard, who is currently plying his trade internationally with Illawarra, has been considered by many to be a top pick prospect.

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Of course, there will be plenty of debate on this between now and June. There’s a whole lot of time to over-analyze all of this, and the NBA Draft stock market is just like the NYSE on Wall Street; plenty of volatility and ebbs and flows.

Paul M. Banks runs The Sports Bank.net, which is partnered with News Now. Banks, the author of “No,  I Can’t Get You Free Tickets: Lessons Learned From a Life in the Sports Media Industry,” regularly appears on WGN CLTV and co-hosts the “Let’s Get Weird, Sports” podcast on SB Nation

You can follow Banks, a former writer for NBC Chicago.com and Chicago Tribune.com on Twitter here and his cat on Instagram at this link.

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