Kristaps Porzingis initially entered the 2014 NBA draft, and the Magic – who held the No. 12 pick (which they ultimately used to trade up for No. 10 pick Elfrid Payton) – tried to entice him to remain in the draft.
They tried to get Porzingis to stay in the draft that year. He was guaranteed at the pick they used Elfrid Payton.
Porzingis knew he could have been picked. He didn’t feel he was ready. He wanted to come over ready.
Of course, Porzingis withdrew from the draft and then declared again in 2015. Orlando, which held the No. 5 pick, was the highest-picking team known to show early interest in Porzingis. But that obviously wasn’t enough, as the Knicks grabbed him at No. 4. The Magic settled for Mario Hezonja at No. 5.
This exposes a limitation of the NBA’s lottery-reform proposal. There’d still be value in tanking down in the standings, even if the difference in lottery odds is minimal. Teams whose number combinations are not selected are still slotted in reverse order of record. That’s why New York picked ahead of Orlando, and the difference was obviously immense.
By the way, we always hear about how close teams were to drafting a future star. We never hear about the times the Magic coveted a bust but were saved when another team drafted him ahead of them.