ATLANTA — Orlando Magic fans will want the Denver Nuggets and New York Knicks to play badly this season.
The reason: the 2014 NBA Draft, which is projected to be the most talent-rich draft in a decade.
As part of the trade that sent Dwight Howard to the Los Angeles Lakers, the Magic received a 2014 first-round draft pick from the Nuggets.
The Nuggets already owned two 2014 first-round draft picks: their own pick and, because of a prior trade, the Knicks' pick.
Denver will convey to Orlando the less favorable of those choices.
If both the Knicks and Nuggets miss the playoffs and wind up in the 2014 NBA Draft Lottery, "less favorable" would be determined once the lottery is conducted on May 20. (By the way, since the Nuggets will keep the more favorable pick, it would be impossible for the Magic to secure the draft's No. 1 overall pick from Denver.)
If New York and/or Denver make the playoffs, "less favorable" would be decided strictly by their regular-season records. In this scenario, if the Knicks finish this season with a better record than the Nuggets, the Magic would receive the Knicks' pick. If the Nuggets finish this season with a better record than the Knicks, the Magic would receive the Nuggets' pick.
Denver has struggled so far, while New York has been a mild disappointment.
The Nuggets hold a 1-4 record, and their second-leading scorer from last season, Danilo Gallinari, is still rehabbing from reconstructive knee surgery.
The Knicks are 2-3, and they recently suffered a significant blow when Tyson Chandler, their starting center and linchpin on defense, fractured his right fibula. Chandler is expected to miss the next four to six weeks.
The Magic, of course, also retain their own 2014 first-round draft pick. So, barring any additional moves, Orlando will have a total of two first-round picks in June.
Saturday night's game between the Magic and the Atlanta Hawks featured two head coaches who are descendants of the famed San Antonio Spurs tree.
Magic coach Jacque Vaughn played three seasons for the Spurs and spent the 2010-11 and 2011-12 seasons as a Spurs assistant coach. First-year Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer worked as a Spurs assistant coach for 17 seasons.
They spoke highly of each other as tipoff approached Saturday.
"He's a student of the game," Budenholzer said of Vaughn. "He's a worker. His attention to detail is off the charts, both as a player and as a coach. His people skills, his relationship skills — I could go on and on, to be honest with you, about Jacque."
Vaughn said: "He coached me and I coached with him, so I have nothing but admiration and extreme respect for his approach to the game, his knowledge of the game. We spent many huddles together trying to figure things out."
Budenholzer spent his first two seasons with the Spurs as a video coordinator. In that way, his career path parallels that of the Magic's lead assistant coach, James Borrego.
Borrego started with the Spurs as a video coordinator in 2003 and later was promoted to assistant coach.
The Magic have employed the same starting lineup in all seven of their games this season: Jameer Nelson, Arron Afflalo, Maurice Harkless, Jason Maxiell and Nik Vucevic. Last season, the Magic used 27 different starting lineups.
'Goose' is loose
The Hawks activated former Magic big man Gustavo Ayón prior to Saturday's game.
Ayón missed almost five weeks because of a right-shoulder injury.