NEW YORK (AP) – The Cleveland Cavaliers continued their remarkable lottery luck Tuesday, winning the No. 1 pick in the NBA draft for the second straight year.
It’s the third time in four years the Cavs will be atop the draft after moving up from the ninth spot. They had just a 1.7 percent chance of winning the top selection.
They drafted Kyrie Irving first in 2011 and will hope to do better with this win than last year, when they took Anthony Bennett, who had a forgettable rookie season.
Even changing up their lottery representative couldn’t change the Cavs’ luck. Nick Gilbert, the son of Cleveland owner Dan Gilbert, was on the podium for the previous two wins, but general manager David Griffin was there this time.
Griffin was carrying one of Nick Gilbert’s bowties, and it was as lucky in his breast pocket as it was with Nick wearing it.
The Cavs can now choose among the likes of Andrew Wiggins and Joel Embiid of Kansas, Duke’s Jabari Parker, or another player from what’s considered a deep draft.
The Milwaukee Bucks fell one spot to second and the Philadelphia 76ers will draft third. The Bucks had a 25 percent chance of winning after a league-worst 15-67 record, but the team with the best odds hasn’t won since 2004.
The expected strength of the class led to speculation that a number of teams were tanking in hopes of getting a high pick. But the Cavs weren’t among them after coming into this season with playoff expectations, and hoping a strong season could help make them attractive to LeBron James if he was interested in returning home as a free agent.
Nick Gilbert said last year he expected the Cavs to be done with the lottery, but they were right back in Times Square after a disappointing season that resulted in them firing Mike Brown after just one year in his second stint with the team. Another top selection surely will make Clevealnd more attractive to prospective coaches.
Irving was an All-Star, but Bennett flopped, Andrew Bynum didn’t work out and was traded, and the chemistry was poor as the Cavs were just 33-49.
But they sure have this lottery thing figured out.
The 2011 win was a stunner, when they moved up from the No. 8 spot with a pick they had acquired from the Los Angeles Clippers. This was even a longer shot, as the Cavs were slotted in the ninth spot.
And by moving up, they hurt the Detroit Pistons, who started eighth but by falling back, had to trade the pick to Charlotte as part of a deal for Ben Gordon.
The Orlando Magic dropped a spot to fourth and will also have the No. 12 pick from Denver. Utah is No. 5 and the Lakers and Boston Celtics couldn’t make the most of rare lottery appearances, with Los Angeles at No. 7 and Boston at No. 6.