Well, it's that time of year again. NBA draft lottery time where the closed-door corruption rears its ugly head.
The worst teams, the ones that need the best players, get screwed over via the NBA draft lottery system, and the league wonders why they have the same old bottom feeders in the lottery each year.
What sense does it make to weigh a system that looks like this:
No. 1 pick: 25 percent
No. 2 pick: 21.51 percent
No. 3 pick: 17.77 percent
No. 4 pick: 35.72 percent
Yes, you read that correctly, the team with the worst record, in this case, my Minnesota Timberwolves, woeful winners of all of 17 games this year and 15 the previous year, actually have the best chance at picking fourth.
Again, what sense does that make?
If anything, if you absolutely must have an asinine and archaic lottery that none of the other major pro sports use, (NHL only has the top five but not all non-playoff teams, thus the percentage is higher that those that actually need the top picks, get them) you would weigh it the exact opposite way in order to discourage "tanking," yet still have some sort of suspense.
No. 1 pick: 35.72%
No. 2 pick: 25%
No. 3 pick" 21.51%
No. 4 pick: 17.7%
This way, a team like the Timberwolves or Cavs can try to tank, yet in the end, still be guaranteed nothing, thus the purpose of the lottery. They should have the greatest chance at the top picks working from the best and on down. This way, should they actually pick fourth, we could at least say, "Hey, you only had a 82.3% chance at fourth and wouldn't you know it, that actually happened."
This way, as it is now, what good reason should Wolves fans like myself actually get excited? We can see what is likely to happen and given the Wolves woeful lottery history, http://www.startribune.com/sports/wolves/121968294.html, under a system where they've never improved their draft position, not even picking so much as second, let alone first, why should we have reason for optimism tonight?
So whose going to be the surprise team that moves up into the top three that really doesn't deserve it?
You know someone that doesn't deserve it is going to jump into the top three, as this happens every year. I am hoping it's Charlotte as they could really use the needed publicity and ticket sales from a star player such as Williams who would take departed former star player Gerald Wallace's place in the lineup and rotation.
Alas, Charlotte only has 17 ping pong balls, or a 1.7 percent chance. But what I like is the primo talent in this weak draft would be kept in the Eastern conference where it could not come back and hurt the Wolves the same way Utah, a divisional rival with two lottery picks thanks to their own and the Nets one acquired in the Deron Williams trade, could if they were to win.
Based on sheer numbers alone (two picks out of the 14 lottery teams) look for them to possibly move into the top three.
Another team to watch is the Sacramento Kings with 76 ping pongers or a 7.6 percent chance of winning. If you believe in conspiracy theories and given the Wolves history and the corrupt feel the controversial behind-closed-doors lottery brings every year in screwing at least one team over, the Kings are prime to steal a top three spot, if only to try and keep them in the Sacramento market.
With a good young core of Tyreke Evans (SG), Jason Thompson (PF) and DeMarcus Cousins (C) adding a point guard like Irving would really rocket them up the Western conference standings not to mention sell a lot more interest and tickets in the team.
Finally, if you like real long shots, why not try the Milwaukee Bucks who have already had lotto luck in the past (2005) when they won it and used it to select Aussie forward/center Andrew Bogut. This would actually help the Wolves since, like the Wizards, they would not be expected to take a point guard given they have Brandon Jennings and the Wizards, John Wall. If the Wolves must lose the lottery to someone, let it be either of these two teams.
So what the Bucks only have a 1.1 percent chance of winning? That's the exact same percentage the Bulls had in 2008 when they weaseled hometown boy Derrick Rose in controversial manner. Having the Kings or Bucks win the lottery wouldn't fit the David Stern big-city favoritism many fans subscribe to however.
It does no good for these teams to win it
Golden State: they have Monta Ellis at SG and Stephen Curry at the point. Irivng isn't needed there, and if they got second, adding Williams to an always young and raw core that currently consists of David Lee, Dorrell Wright, Al Thornton, Epke Udoh and Andris Biedrins makes no sense as he'd put up big numbers in a rotational role, but the team wouldn't win because the team, like the Wolves, plays players out of position and drafts best player available over actual need, thus they never improve.
If only the Wolves were this smart. They don't even draft best player available; they draft whatever they feel like, which is often at the disgust of the fans.
Holy Big Man Batman! Can you see why this team is a joke? Check out all the PF/SF types.
Detroit Pistons: they already have Rodney Stuckey at the point, and the only other talented young piece worth building around is Greg Monroe. Why should Irving be wasted here? No one cares about this has-been team. Now if you want to talk Williams, that would fill a need as he'd slide in to replace an aging Tayshaun Prince, but in the end, would anyone care? Does anyone actually watch this team whose had their 15 minutes?
Washington Wizards: have John Wall, JaVale McGee and Andray Blatche as good young players, again, adding Williams would actually make the most sense at PF as they have only Maurice Evans holding down that spot by default only. It's certainly to be had.
Cleveland Caviliers: Meh. They had a seven-year run with so-called "King James" and never got it done. Next. Besides, local hero Jared Sullinger makes more sense next year and could fit right in the starting lineup next year and help sell tickets. This team does have two lottery picks as well—their own and the L.A. Clippers in the Baron Davis deadline deal. Based on numbers alone, could they be moving up? If they did, I wouldn't care because they are in the East and could use some help, but I am a little "Caved out" given all the years they were on national tv. It's someone else's turn but feel free to take third on down.
I'm actually making more of a case as to why teams need the second pick, overall more than the first, more proof Stern should just let the Wolves finally have their moment.
If the Toronto Raptors would win it, I would be okay with it as Toronto is a small market and much like the John Wall-hype last year, could actually use the added attention, and Irving would be a nice fit. Jose Calderon is a nice player, but certainly expendable, yet keeping him on the team as a veteran mentor makes them that much deeper and after picking Bargnani and DeRozen in recent drafts; this team could be on the rise real quick in the post-Bosh era.
Back to the Wolves impact
Should the Wolves fall to fourth or third like most fans expect, I want them to take either Kemba Walker, Alec Burks or Enes Kanter—the Turkish big man. While there is some risk, Kanter could pull a Rubio and never come over; you can't argue the team wasn't drafting on need, but then again, they haven't hit on any of their point guards in recent years either which still remains their biggest need.
Burks, the Colorado SG fits the Wolves second-most glaring need perfectly, and his 20.5ppg are nothing to sneeze at, I just don't trust the level of play in the Big 12 nor the fact they didn't make the NCAA talent to showcase him or his talents, but again, you can't argue they wouldn't be addressing a need if it came to this.
Finally, I think Kemba Walker could be Ray Allen 2.0. Both went to UCONN, both are SG's that can hit the big shot. Fifteen years after the botched Stephon Marbury for Allen draft-day deal, we have a chance to right a wrong and given Walker's leadership and big shot ability, no way he lasts till the Wolves at 20. Pick 20 will probably either be traded for a veteran (finally!) since it makes no sense to incorporate another rookie into a losing environment and on one of the youngest teams in the league, or better yet traded to some sucker team like Phoenix or New Orleans in hopes they miss the playoffs next year when Nash and Paul leave, respectively.
When Allen was drafted, I thought he was a lawyer as he had a very "legal" sounding name. Seriously, "Ray Allen?" Sounds so corporate, still 15 years later and we could have had half the Celtics current core.
If Stern had any heart, he'd give the Wolves their much-needed pick and PR boost. In a state where the Vikings finished last in the NFC North, the Gophers the last in the Big 10, the Twins well on their way to last in the league and the Wild who fired their coach and haven't made the playoffs in three years (an eternity in Minnesota hockey), Minnesota fans need something to get them buzzing; this would be a small consolation prize.
Still, there is no guarantee the enigma David Kahn would actually take Irving given his desire for Rubio and serious admittance he'll actually come here which he's basically staked his reputation to. I'd expect him to blow it as I have zero confidence in him on draft day given the 2009 and 2010 drafts, but I'd settle for Walker, Burks or Kanter.
Just don't give me Bismarck Biyombo. No more foreign imports. Draft American where the game is more polished.
After the Rubio disaster, the Wolves need a player they know is coming over and one they know that can play. All reports are Kanter can do both, even though he's foreign and unlike Biyombo, was going to play college ball until a scandal prevented that. All accounts are he would have tore up the SEC whereas Biyombo couldn't even dominate the Spanish league, and I hadn't heard of him until two weeks ago.
How sad and pathetic is it, when you can actually predict these things along with your own team's demise (getting screwed over?). Only one scenario (winning it) can prevent Wolves fans from criticizing the system yet again, as even the second pick in the draft would likely mean Irving isn't coming (unless Milwaukee or Washington win it) and thus, the Wolves would have got the shaft yet again.
Based on numbers alone, it doesn't look good for Wolves fans. I just hope the fall isn't too far, nor painful.
Information and statistics from ESPN.com and the Star Tribune and Jerry Zgoda's blog directly conributed to the content of this article.
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