NBA Draft Lottery Part II: Five Teams That Desperately Need To Win

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NBA Draft Lottery Part II: Five Teams That Desperately Need To Win
(Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)

First off, if you get a chance, first read my initial Part I article "Recapping a History of NBA Lottery Conspiracies, Fixes, and Spin"  to get a brief recap of tonight's annual NBA Draft lottery history.

With that, I present five teams that desperately could use good luck:

 

1. Minnesota Timberwolves

Forget the fact they've never even won a lottery. They've never even been close. Top Three is the best they could get and in one particular year, 1992. A draft which included LSU's Shaquille O'Neal and Georgetown's Alonzo Mourning, the lowly team coming off a typical 15-67 season, a full six games worse than their next closet competitor, the Orlando Magic, not only failed to draft next, but fell all the way to third and selected Duke's Christian Laettner.

Consider the Joe Smith under-the-table fiasco that saw the team lose five first round draft picks only to see two later returned, stellar Stephon Marbury prematurely break up potential dynasty-in-the-making in 1998 with 22 year old Kevin Garnett and 28 year old Tom Gugliotta for greener pastures of New Jersey, the death of Malik Sealy, and numerous Brandon Roy-for Randy Foye mistakes, and its easy to empathize with a team in disarray.

Mix in the cold climate, small market, history of awful drafts, and dwindling attendance...

Oh, and did I mention they are not only five years removed from the post season but are also currently searching for a General Manager after the third candidate, recently turned down the job? If any one franchise could use a real shot in the arm tonight it's them, if only to revitalize a skeptical fan base.

 

2. Memphis Grizzlies

Like Minnesota, Memphis has never won a draft lottery despite not only being close on numerous occasions, but  they constantly held some of the league's worst season and individual records. In 1999, they had the best odds, yet drafted second and Steve Francis, who immediately forced a trade to Houston. Some luck. Did I mention, this team also relocated from Vancouver, Canada to Tennessee?

2001 they fell to sixth despite having the fourth worst record. 2002 they picked fourth despite having the third worst record. If anything tonight, they'll probably move down. Most famously, despite having the league's worst record in 2007, the Grizzlies miss out on both Ohio State's Greg Odom and Texas' Kevin Durant.

If any team can empathize with the Timberwolves, its the hard-luck Grizzlies. Too bad for such a basketball state.

 

3. Toronto Raptors

Much simpler here. All economics. In these economic times, the Canadian dollar is weakening. Need proof? Listen to any Baseball Tonight episode with a highlight of the first place Toronto Blue Jays and the words "if they fall out of it" will likely come up as in "look for Roy Halladay to be traded if they fall out of it."

ESPN and others are already writing Chris Bosh off as out the door and most likely to a destination with cap space and big money like New York, which Toronto seemingly cannot offer or compete. An unexpected win (such as the 2006 draft) tonight would likely pair him with the prize Blake Griffin forming an instant box-office draw this team, city, and ultimately, Country need—and maybe keep Bosh north of the border. 

Memphis, Minnesota, do you have the weight of an entire Nation on your shoulders?

 

4. Sacramento Kings

First off, let's just mention the 2002 NBA Western Conference Finals that many believe was stolen away from them by the rival, big market Los Angeles Lakers who subsequently called them "The Queens." Many Kings fans will go so far as to say the title the Lakers eventually won should have actually ended up in Calfornia's capital city.

Include the departures of solid veterans over the years: Mike Bibby, Chris Webber, Vlade Divac, Hedo Turkoglu, Peja Stojakovic and mention that most all went to star elsewhere and you're prime for a demoralized fan base in need of luck.

Don't forget the rumors that their owners, the quirky Maloof Brothers could be shopping the team to another venue such as Las Vegas and you've got real problems here. Don't forget this team was gutted of one of its leading scorers, and most productive players, John Salmons, at the deadline for scraps, and jokes have been made of prizes given "if you can name three Kings currently on the roster."

Finally, they finished with the league's worst record, at 17-65 for a reason. Doesn't that count for anything? Griffin to Martin would be a nice start and rebuilding.

 

5. Oklahoma City Thunder

When you have a WNBA-ish nickname you need to catch a break. Seriously though, adding a homegrown player in Griffin to the league's newest and smallest market would create unique opportunities to grow.

However, it would immiedately incite controversy (see Part I of my series on conspiracies). Adding a sure thing in Griffin to Jeff Green, Kevin Durant, and Russell Westbrook turns this thing around in a hurry-possibly to the playoffs as a bubble team.

 

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