Hornets win NBA Draft lottery

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Hornets win NBA Draft lottery

NEW YORK -- New owner, and now a new star player coming to New Orleans.

And yet another loss -- in a historic season full of them -- for Michael Jordan and the Charlotte Bobcats.

The Hornets, recently sold by the NBA to New Orleans Saints owner Tom Benson, won the NBA's draft lottery Wednesday and the No. 1 pick overall -- which they almost certainly will use to pick Kentucky star Anthony Davis.

At least that's what the consensus college player of the year is expecting. Moments after the Hornets won the lottery, Davis said he was looking forward to playing professionally in the place where he led the Wildcats to a national championship in April.

The good news for the Hornets comes after a difficult season in which they traded All-Star Chris Paul.

"Just a first step for us to winning it all," Benson said in a TV interview after the lottery.

The Hornets moved up from the fourth spot, where they had a 13.7 percent chance, to earn the pick.

"Everything was surreal once they announced the fourth pick," said Hornets coach Monty Williams, who represented the team on stage. "I said, 'This is pretty cool.' I knew my wife and kids were home praying that things would go well and they did."

The Bobcats, after going 7-59 for the worst winning percentage in NBA history, fell to the No. 2 pick. Washington will pick third and Cleveland fell one spot to fourth.

Charlotte had a 25 percent chance of grabbing the No. 1 pick, but instead will have to take the best player after Davis, possibly his teammate, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist.

The team with the worst record hasn't won since Orlando drafted Dwight Howard in 2004.

"We will still take the best player available and when you win seven games you have a lot of holes," Bobcats general manager Rich Cho said. "From a competitive standpoint and for anyone who has played sports or been competitive, you want to win and be No. 1. We know we're still going to get a good player."

Cho and team vice chairman Curtis Polk said they hadn't heard from Jordan, the Bobcats owner.

"Being No. 2 isn't terrible. We'll be fine," Polk said.

The league bought the Hornets from owner George Shinn in December 2010 and the sale to Benson was completed in April. The NBA was criticized for the conflict of interest of a league owning a franchise, particularly when commissioner David Stern blocked a trade that would have sent Paul to the Lakers in December, then approved another that landed Paul with the Clippers.

The ownership uncertainty hindered the Hornets, but they were in a celebrating mood Wednesday after earning the No. 1 pick for the first time since 1991, when they were still in Charlotte and took Larry Johnson.

General manager Dell Demps said he pumped his first in the room where the drawing took place after seeing that the balls had been drawn in the Hornets' favor.

"When our combination came up, it was an exciting feeling," he said. "I got an incredible rush. ... We knew what the odds were. We hoped for the best. It was nothing we could control. We're just happy."

The Hornets, who went 21-45, also have the No. 10 pick. They played hard at the end of the season even as it reduced their lottery odds, winning eight of their final 13 games with a young roster.

"Obviously, we're very excited," Demps said. "This is a great day for the city of New Orleans, our fans. ... This is the start of a new beginning."

Though they didn't officially say it, it's expected to start with Davis, one of the most dominant defensive college players in years who was Most Outstanding Player of the Final Four even as he went 1 for 10 from the field in the championship game. He blocked a record-tying six shots and had 16 rebounds and three steals in the Wildcats' 67-59 victory over Kansas.

"Davis is not LeBron. He's not Tim (Duncan). But they were young once and Tim had four years of college," Williams said.

The Nets were the other big loser when they stayed in the No. 6 spot. They owed their pick to Portland for this season's Gerald Wallace trade unless they moved into the top three.

The Cavs beat the odds last year and moved up to take Kyrie Irving, the eventual Rookie of the Year, and tried to follow the same formula. Nick Gilbert, the 15-year-old son of owner Dan Gilbert, was back on the podium in his bow tie, and the Cavs' traveling party that included Dan Gilbert, and former Browns quarterback Bernie Kosar and current Browns players Josh Cribbs and Joe Haden sported the same dress.

But there was no repeat, as the Cavs went backward this time.

"Still feel very good about (number)4 pick," Dan Gilbert wrote on his Twitter page. "We are getting a great player there and good additions wour other 3 picks. I believe."

Sacramento rounds out the top five of the draft, to be held June 28 in Newark, N.J.

LeBron James breaks Michael Jordan's record by becoming NBA's all-time leading playoff scorer

LeBron James breaks Michael Jordan's record by becoming NBA's all-time leading playoff scorer

The LeBron James vs. Michael Jordan debate tends to heat up around playoff time, and The King fueled the fire Thursday with his latest accomplishment.

After sinking a 3-pointer in the third quarter of Game 5 against the Boston Celtics, the four-time NBA MVP surpassed Jordan for most postseason points in league history with 5,989. Jordan scored 5,987 points in 179 games while it took James 212 to surpass that mark.

Before the game, James said that chasing Jordan has been a personal goal of his and left the debate to media members.

The SportsTalk Live panel talked about those comments, and joined in on the debate in the video above.

Swanigan's, Diallo's decisions and how it affects Bulls' NBA Draft

Swanigan's, Diallo's decisions and how it affects Bulls' NBA Draft

The deadline for underclassmen to pull their names out of the NBA Draft passed on Wednesday at midnight.

There were a few surprises, and a handful of decisions had an effect on how the Bulls will go about next month's draft.

Staying in the draft

Caleb Swangian, PF, Purdue: The sophomore All-American surprised many by keeping his name in the draft. Swanigan actually tested the waters after his freshman season but returned to the Boilermakers in 2016. He averaged 18.5 points, 12.5 rebounds and 3.0 assists in 35 games, earning Big Ten Player of the Year honors and was a National Player of the Year candidate. It's no secret the 6-foot-9 Swangian can score  - he had 15 games of 20 or more points - and showed some ability to shoot from deep, making nearly 45 percent of his 85 3-point attempts. Quickness and conditioning will be the real test for the 245-pound Swanigan, who has already lost significant weight since high school. Questions about his defense (he had just 27 steals and 36 blocks in two seasons) also stand out. With Nikola Mirotic's future in Chicago unknown, the Bulls could be in the market for depth at power forward. He wouldn't be an option for the Bulls at No. 14, but if he slides out of the first round he could be an option at No. 38.

D.J. Wilson, PF, Michigan: After averaging just 6.1 minutes as a sophomore, Wilson burst onto the scene as a junior, averaging 11.0 points and 5.3 rebounds in 30.4 minutes for the Wolverines. He did his best work during the postseason; during Michigan's Big Ten Championship run and Sweet 16 appearance, Wilson averaged 15.6 points on 54 percent shooting, 5.0 rebounds and 2.0 blocks. Standing 6-foot-10 with a 7-foot-3 wingspan, Wilson leaves some to be desired on the defensive end but has the ability to play as a combo forward - he had a 3-inch growth spurt after high school. Like Swanigan, Wilson won't be an option for the Bulls at No. 14 but could be a second-round option. He'd give the Bulls a similar look to what Bobby Portis does with a little more versatility on the wing.

Going back to college

Hamidou Diallo, SG, Kentucky: The NBA Draft's biggest mystery could have been a home-run selection for the Bulls in the first round. Alas, Diallo has decided to play a year under John Calipari at Kentucky and likely boost his draft stock. Having not played since December, where he played at a prep academy in Connecticut, so there wasn't much film of the 6-foot-5 leaper. Still, after Thon Maker went No. 10 to the Bucks last year there was thought that a team would take a gamble on a high-upside mystery.

Andrew Jones, PG, Texas: There was little surprise that Jones, a five-star recruit who put together a solid freshman season, returned. He's still a bit raw as a prospect despite having elite size (6-foot-4) and solid athleticism, and another year running the point with incoming five-star recruit Mo Bomba could really improve his draft stock. The Bulls clearly have a need at the point (less if Rajon Rondo returns) and if Jones had made the leap he likely would have been around at No. 38. Even still, Jones is a player to keep an eye on during next year's draft, assuming Cameron Payne and Jerian Grant don't make significant improvements.

Moritz Wagner, PF, Michigan: There's a need on every NBA team for a stretch forward with 3-point potential. But those teams will have to wait at least another year after Wagner decided to return to Michigan for his junior season. Like Wilson, who kept his name in the draft, Wagner had an excellent postseason run for the Wolverines. That stretch included a 17-point effort against Minnesota and a career-high 26-point outing in a win over Louisville. He weighed in at just 231 pounds and only averaged 4.2 rebounds per game, so adding some strength to his game will help his draft prospect for next year. He could have been an option for the Bulls at No. 38.