The new homes for Nerlens Noel, Trey Burke, and Ben McLemore will depend on the ping-pong balls of the 2013 NBA Draft Lottery.
The lottery will be held May 21, and is typically at halftime of a playoff game, somewhere between the second round and the conference finals. It will also be the final draft for Commissioner David Stern, taking place on June 27 at Madison Square Garden.
The 6-foot-10 Kentucky freshman Noel is still the top-rated player by most experts even though he’s rehabbing a torn anterior cruciate ligament that forced him to miss the final two months of the season. Before he went down, Noel was averaging 10.5 points, 9.5 rebounds, and 4.4 blocks in what would be his only season with the Wildcats.
Noel could land with the Orlando Magic or the Charlotte Bobcats, with each sitting at an NBA-worst 20-61 and their final games will decide who has the best chance for the No. 1 overall pick. However if they tie, a coin flip could decide the 19-year-old’s first NBA team.
Cleveland and Phoenix also have an excellent shot to nab the top selection, but having more balls in the lottery machine doesn’t necessarily guarantee a higher pick. In 2008 the Chicago Bulls had a 1.7 percent chance of landing the top pick, and that translated into MVP point guard Derrick Rose.
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Charlotte had the worst winning percentage of any team in NBA history last season and ended up with the No. 2 overall, just missing out on Kentucky's Anthony Davis. The Bobcats may have better luck this go round.
Some other key dates to keep in mind are May 16-17 for the NBA Combine, as well as the early entry deadline of April 28.
The deadline is especially important for college players that are unsure whether they are ready for the NBA. Guard Tim Hardaway Jr. joined his Michigan teammate Burke by declaring himself for this year’s draft today, and it remains to be seen if fellow Wolverines Glenn Robinson III and Mitch McGary will also make the jump.
Players can also withdraw by June 17, assuming they haven’t hired an agent, and go back to school for another year.