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As the basketball world turns its focus to the conference finals, which begin Sunday in Boston between the Cavaliers and Celtics in the East and Monday in Houston with the Warriors and Rockets squaring off, the focus on several teams will be on what happens Tuesday.
That night in Chicago, the NBA Draft Lottery will be held and teams such as the Phoenix Suns, Memphis Grizzlies, Dallas Mavericks and Atlanta Hawks, especially, will have their eyes focused on how the Ping-Pong balls bounce.
All four of those teams have better than a 13-percent chance of landing the top pick in what is projected to be a talented, deep draft.
Phoenix (25.0 percent) and Memphis (19.9 percent) stand the best chance of garnering the top pick, with Dallas (13.8 percent) and Atlanta (13.7 percent) next in line.
Cleveland, via owning the Brooklyn Nets’ first-round pick, has the eighth-best odds at landing the top selection at 2.8 percent.
Veteran forward Harrison Barnes of the Dallas Mavericks realizes what happens Tuesday in Chicago could be huge for the franchise.
The Mavericks have never won the Draft Lottery since its inception in 1985.
“In one sense it’ll be great,” Barnes told mavs.com. “I think people will be definitely excited to have the No. 1 pick, but on the other side I think it’s to be determined what that means. I think if we make the playoffs (next season) and we go from that, I think it’ll be great.
“But to say, ‘Oh, this is great for our long-term future for those fans who have been faithful, who have been coming out every single night, who have been cheering us on for the last two years — and to not really have anything to cheer for come postseason time — I think they would like to see, regardless of what pick we get, somebody that comes in and can obviously help and help us get to the playoffs.”
Dallas caught a break last year. In a draft class that featured several highly touted point guards, four were taken before the Mavericks landed North Carolina State’s Dennis Smith Jr. with the ninth overall selection.
Though the Philadelphia 76ers took Markelle Fultz out of Washington at No. 1, the Los Angeles Lakers selected Lonzo Ball of UCLA at No. 2, the Kings grabbed De’Aaron Fox at No. 5 and the New York Knicks tabbed Frank Ntilikina out of France at No. 8, Smith had the best rookie season of all of them.
Smith averaged 15.2 points and 5.2 points per game for the Mavericks, mixing in a bunch of highlight-reel poster dunks.
Barnes is well aware how fortunate Dallas was to have Smith available when it came to make its first-round pick a year ago. The 2018 Draft will be held June 21.
“At this point, it’s all speculation what pick can you get and what’s going to happen,” Barnes said. “After you get your pick, I think then that’s when — for us, because we’re a lottery team — you start to pay more attention to it.
“You start to realize, ‘OK, with this number, what are the picks that are probably going to be in our range?’ If you have a top-five pick you have to have a lot more room.
“Last year at nine was a little different and we got lucky. We’ll see what happens this year.”