Wild NBA Draft Lottery Awards Hawks No. 1 Overall Pick & Rockets’ James Harden Trade Is The Gift That Keeps On Giving

Atlanta Hawks
ESPN

Not that the 2024 NBA Draft is littered with surefire superstar prospects, but high future draft picks can certainly be used as trade fodder. So however they spend these premium assets, the Atlanta Hawks and Houston Rockets emerged from Sunday’s draft lottery as the biggest winners by far.

While the Wizards were tied with the Pistons as the odds-on favorite to get the No. 1 overall pick, Detroit fell all the way to No. 5, as Washington got clipped for the top spot by Atlanta in a truly stunning development.

If you just played the odds based on how the ping pong balls were supposed to fall, Houston should’ve gotten the ninth or 10th pick. Instead, they rocketed up the order into the No. 3 slot.

Tough scene out here for the Chicago Bulls, whose play-in victory over Atlanta ultimately helped the Hawks get the pick of the litter in this year’s draft (h/t Barstool Chicago). The Bulls can’t really do much with the 11th pick except pray that they hit on a decent rotational player.

What Chicago and Detroit are experiencing are relatively minor forms of heartbreak compared to the Brooklyn Nets. They’ve swung all kinds of trades in recent years for superstars, only to watch them get the f**k out of Dodge with very little to show for it.

Selfishly, as a resident of the greater New York City area, this all but guarantees that getting tickets to Nets games will be that much easier for the foreseeable future. They will not be competitive, the prices should plummet, and seeing great players from other teams will be all the more delightful. It’s what I’d call The John Fisher Corollary. That’s an inside-baseball joke for folks who know baseball and can stay awake for a game when they aren’t at the ballpark.

So what does all this really mean for the greater NBA landscape, and the Hawks and Rockets in particular? Well, were I in charge, I’d still trade Trae Young this summer. Young needs a change of scenery. Atlanta needs to build around a different player who’s more efficient and provides a bigger presence on defense. I don’t think that true superstar cornerstone will be this year’s No. 1 overall pick. Early speculation is that the Hawks could take a flier on France’s 7-foot-1 center Alexandre Sarr to replace Clint Capela, who’s entering a contract year.

If Atlanta could swing a trade (or trades) with Young and Capela’s expiring contract, suddenly teaming up Sarr with Dejounte Murray and a couple of other All-Star-caliber players to go with the Hawks’ current core looks pretty appealing on paper.

Then you have the Rockets, with a proven coach in Ime Udoka and a youth movement that’s already looking great. Do you spend the third pick in a weak draft class on another largely unknown young player, hoping to nail it? Or do you trade that and bring a veteran to Houston who can be more dynamic and authoritative as a player/talent/leader than the likes of Fred VanVleet and Dillon Brooks? I couldn’t tell you, but it’ll be compelling as hell to see how the Rockets play this hand with an unexpectedly favorable deck.

This 2024 NBA Draft needed some spice beyond speculation about Bronny James, and whether him getting drafted might result in a package deal where LeBron comes to play with him. A stunning lottery was a great plot twist to shake things up.

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