Hornets win draft lottery, will pick No. 1 in NBA
AP Basketball Writer
NEW YORK (AP) – 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 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 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.
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.
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.
“We’ve had a lot of good stuff happen to us in the last few weeks,” coach Monty Williams said, referring also to the sale.
The Hornets also have the No. 10 pick.
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.
Sacramento rounds out the top five of the draft, to be held June 28 in Newark, N.J.