The Cleveland Cavaliers got the top pick in next month’s draft after posting the second-worst record in the National Basketball Association in their first season since LeBron James left.
The Minnesota Timberwolves, who were last in the regular-season standings, will choose second in the first round, followed by the Utah Jazz.
The Cavaliers went 19-63 last season. A year earlier, they topped the NBA with a 61-21 record in James’s last campaign before he joined the Miami Heat as a free agent. Cleveland also will have the fourth selection at the June 23 draft after securing the Los Angeles Clippers’ lottery pick through a trade that also sent Baron Davis to Cleveland.
“Shocking events took place last summer and it was a slow, long, painful haul to get through it,” Cavs owner Dan Gilbert said after the televised lottery. “Maybe this will be the final straw in getting over the hump, getting to the other side, and having a lot of hope for the future.”
The New York Knicks (42-40) will have the 17th pick in the first round, while the New Jersey Nets (24-58), who gave up their spot in the lottery to the Jazz, will choose 27th in place of the Los Angeles Lakers.
The Timberwolves went 17-65 during the regular season, giving them a 25 percent chance to earn the top pick. Minnesota has never won the top selection in the 14 times it has participated in the lottery.
The Jazz, who went 39-43 for the 10th-worst record in the NBA this season, also get the 12th pick from the Nets following a trade that sent guard Deron Williams to New Jersey.
Duke University point guard Kyrie Irving and University of Arizona forward Derrick Williams are considered the top prospects this year, according to scouts at ESPN and NBAdraftnet.com.
The 6-foot-2 Irving was limited to 11 games during his freshman season at Duke because of a foot injury, averaging 17.5 points and 4.3 assists.
The 6-foot-8 Williams averaged 19.5 points and 8.3 rebounds as a junior at Arizona this past season and was voted the Pacific-10 conference’s player of the year.
“Williams is going to make a pretty big impact in the NBA,” ESPN analyst Jay Bilas said. “It is going to be a transition for him because he doesn’t really have an accepted position -- he’s a tweener. But he plays above the rim, he can knock down the standstill shot and he’s got that great athleticism to be able to get around you.”
Turkish forward/center Enes Kanter, San Diego State forward Kawhi Leonard, University of Kentucky guard Brandon Knight and University of Connecticut guard Kemba Walker are among the other top players available in the draft.
FIRST-ROUND DRAFT SELECTIONS ============================ 1. Cleveland 2. Minnesota 3. Utah 4. Cleveland 5. Toronto 6. Washington 7. Sacramento 8. Detroit 9. Charlotte 10. Milwaukee 11. Golden State 12. Utah 13. Phoenix 14. Houston 15. Indiana 16. Philadelphia 17. New York 18. Washington 19. Charlotte 20. Minnesota 21. Portland 22. Denver 23. Houston 24. Oklahoma City 25. Boston 26. Dallas 27. New Jersey 28. Chicago 29. San Antonio 30. Chicago