For the second time in 3 years, the Cavaliers will have the No. 1 pick in the NBA draft.
“It’s huge for us,” Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert said after Cleveland won the draft lottery. “This is our 3rd year running in the lottery. Hopefully, it’s our last for a long, long time.”
The Cavaliers chose LeBron James No. 1 overall in 2003 and took Kyrie Irving No. 1 overall in 2011.
The 2013 draft is scheduled for June 27 at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y.
The Orlando Magic, who had the best opportunity to receive the No. 1 pick at 25 percent in the lottery draw, will choose second. The Washington Wizards got the No. 3 pick despite having just a 3.5 percent shot at the No. 1 overall pick.
Cleveland, still reeling from James’ call to head to Miami, now has had some good luck. The Cavaliers had a 15.6 percent chance of getting the top pick.
“Two out of 3 years — we’ll take it,” Gilbert related. “For us, it’s about the city of Cleveland, giving them more hope as we build the franchise and attempt to get to the level we all want it to go to.”
The lottery included the NBA’s 14 non-playoff teams with possibilities for the number one picks weighted based on regular-season records. Orlando posted a 20-62 record and was guaranteed a top-4 pick.
The top overall prospect is arguably Nerlens Noel, the Kentucky freshman recovering from a torn anterior cruciate ligament with a projected return date around Christmas. Noel injured his left knee Feb. 21, and his defined NBA talent — defense — isn’t going to make a queue of trade suitors. NFL spreads
However, he’s just 19 years old, and at 6-foot-10, he brings obvious potential because of his athleticism and length. Best-case scenario: Noel is an instant protector of the rim with his penchant for blocked shots and rebounds and eventually develops a modest offensive game.
“I feel I should be the top pick because I’m a great teammate, I really care about where I’m going to play and I am going to give all my heart and 100 percent effort to get my team back to the promised land, which is where everyone would like to be,” he said before the lottery.
A shooting guard hasn’t been selected first since the 1975 NBA Draft, but David Thompson could be joined by Kansas freshman Ben McLemore, whom some NBA executives describe as a “safe” choice. But McLemore, 6-5, 200 pounds, with enough range to adjust quickly to the NBA game, didn’t stand out in a good way at last week’s draft combine in Chicago.
“Just coming from nowhere, coming from nothing, just being able to have the chance get a No. 1 spot is just a blessing,” McLemore said. “I’m going to work for it the same way as (Noel). He’s going to work for it, and I’m going to work for it. It absolutely is neck-and-neck.”
Other potential top picks include Michigan sophomore point guard Trey Burke and UCLA freshman small forward Shabazz Muhammad.