NBA Draft Lottery 2012: A System in Need of a Change
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The purpose of any professional sports draft is simple—allow the worst teams in the league to revamp their rosters so that the league can become more competitive. Well, at least in the NFL, MLB, and NHL that’s the case.
The NBA’s current lottery system is failing to create a level playing field for all 30 of its teams.
Consider this: since 1985—the year the NBA established a lottery—the worst team in the league has received the top draft pick only three times.
The Charlotte Bobcats have a 25 percent chance of winning the rights to Kentucky center and 2012 National Player of the Year Anthony Davis, far and wide the number one prospect in this year’s draft class.
Think about the talent difference between just the first and second picks. Anthony Davis is that “once-in-a-generation” player analysts are always talking about. Isn’t it wrong that he could potentially go to a team that just missed the playoffs while the Charlotte Bobcats, who had 13 less wins than the next worst team, could go empty-handed?
The Bulls Strike Gold
2011 MVP Derek Rose
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In the 2007-2008 season, the Miami Heat posted an atrocious 15-67 record. They were that year’s worst team in basketball. But did they win the lottery? No.
Instead, a ping-pong ball featuring the Chicago Bulls logo ascended into Commissioner Stern’s hands as if the Basketball Gods were punishing every other eligible team.
A 1.7 percent chance—those were the odds of that tiny white ball being picked. Those were the odds of last season’s MVP, Derrick Rose, landing in Chicago, and making them NBA Finals contenders for the next decade.
The Orlando Magic—It's Their Name for a Reason
Shaquille O' Neal
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A similar flash of magic occurred back in the 1993 draft to none other than…the Orlando Magic. The previous season, the Magic held the top pick, selecting big-man Shaquille O’ Neal.
The pick did exactly what drafts are made out to do; it lifted a 21-win Magic team up to a record of 41-41. The only problem was that in the next year’s lottery, the Magic waved their wands again. SHAZAM!!
Projected to receive the 11th pick, Orlando surpassed nine worse teams, leaping all the way to the number two pick. They selected Chris Webber and traded his rights to Golden State in exchange for a package of players including future all-star Penny Hardaway.
Shouldn’t we be fixing something here?
The Need for a Change
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Look at the magnitude of impact previous number one picks have had on the NBA.
Think about how devastating a blow it would be to see Charlotte’s deserved prize slip away from their grasp. Haven’t they been through enough?
The current lottery system is flawed; there’s no debating it. The NFL is truly an “Any Given Sunday” league, but the NBA is not. The NBA has entered a new era in which “Dream Teams” form in the league’s largest markets while the smaller markets are left behind, unable to throw the millions upon millions of dollars necessary to sign the top free agents.
Look at the Western Conference Finals.
It’s comprised of two small market teams who found their way to the top not by paying loads of cash, but by drafting the very best players. Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, and Manu Ginobili all have played their entire careers in San Antonio. Kevin Durant, James Harden, and Russell Westbrook were all drafted by Oklahoma City.
The NBA has to stick up for these little guys, or else teams like the Bobcats may never reach double-digit wins again.