2011 NBA Draft Lottery: Which Teams Got Screwed?
Let's be honest for a moment here—the NBA draft lottery is a system that, intentionally or not, is designed to slingshot some teams to the top of the draft and screw others in the process.
The lottery first came about in 1985, after years of teams supposedly tanking as a means of getting closer to the top of the draft. The system has changed considerably over time, with the NBA moving toward a weighted lottery in 1990 that has stuck ever since.
In the 26 years since the institution of the draft lottery, only four times has the team with the worst record ended up with the top pick in that year's draft—an astonishingly low ratio that speaks to the way that the lottery can not just level the playing field, but flat-out uproot it.
The 2011 NBA draft lottery featured as much movement up and down as ever, as 12 franchises crossed their fingers and prayed for Kyrie Irving or Derrick Williams on draft night in June, with the Cleveland Cavaliers emerging "victorious."
Whose hopes got dashed in the process? Read on to find out.
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That pallid face Minnesota general manager David Kahn was wearing on the ESPN broadcast of the NBA draft lottery was not just him reacting to the nausea-inducing pseudo-drama induced by the world's sports leader, though it could have played a part.
Rather, Kahn's disappointment was the result of his Timberwolves getting shoved out of the top spot in the 2011 NBA draft by the Cleveland Cavaliers, who now own two of the top four picks.
The T-Wolves have been in the lottery 16 times, twice with the worst record, but never have they left Secaucus, New Jersey with the first-overall pick in their possession.
Not that it matters all that much this year, as both Kyrie Irving and Derrick Williams would represent redundancies on a Minny roster that already has Jonny Flynn and Ricky Rubio (stashed abroad as he may be) at the point and Michael Beasley and Wesley Johnson at the swing spot.
Thus, the best that David Kahn can hope for is that some team comes calling, either for the pick or for whichever player gets displaced by the shiny new draftee.
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The Toronto Raptors had the third-best odds to get the top pick but ended up falling back two spots to fifth-overall in the draft.
That still leaves general manager Bryan Colangelo with plenty of options at the point and up front to choose from to improve his team, though now landing players like Enes Kanter and Brandon Knight, both of Kentucky (less so in Kanter's case), becomes less of a sure thing to shore up the Raptors' deficiencies up top and down low.
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Like the Raptors, the Washington Wizards fell two spots to sixth overall after coming into the draft lottery with the fourth-best odds to win the top pick.
Of course, the Wizards were likely never going to seriously consider drafting Kyrie Irving with last year's top pick, John Wall, firmly entrenched at the point, though slotting a player like Derrick Williams alongside Wall would've given Washington a terrific tandem to build around.
Instead, the Wiz will have to settle for someone like Kawhi Leonard of San Diego State or Jan Vesely of the Czech Republic—not that there's necessarily anything "wrong" with either prospect, but, like any team looking for a small forward in this year's draft, Derrick Williams would easily have been the most preferred option.
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The Sacramento Kings had high hopes for a good day at the draft lottery, especially with Mayor Kevin Johnson attending as the team's representative, but came away somewhat disappointed.
The Kings dropped two spots, from fifth to seventh overall, making general manager Geoff Petrie's job of acquiring a steady backcourt mate for Tyreke Evans that much more difficult, though far from impossible, as Kemba Walker and/or Brandon Knight may very well still be available when Sacramento has the podium on draft night.
The Pistons did not have all that much hope to move up from the seventh spot, though they obviously would have preferred anything to a one-spot drop to eighth.
Detroit could use some toughness along the front line to complement Greg Monroe as well as a strong lead guard with a pass-first mentality.
Unfortunately for general manager Joe Dumars, point guards Kemba Walker and Brandon Knight will likely be gone by the time the Pistons are up to pick, as will muscular Turkish center Enes Kanter.
That being said, Detroit may still have an excellent shot at landing Bismack Biyombo, the raw but rough-and-tumble forward from the Congo who's been shooting up draft boards in recent weeks.
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There really are no winners coming away from the 2011 NBA draft lottery. By all accounts, the pool of available talent is so shallow and devoid of potential superstars that even the Cavaliers and the Timberwolves figure to be right back in the lottery next year, once again in search of a face for their respective franchises.
The threat of an impending lockout of the 2011-2012 NBA season drove a number of particularly talented prospects away from this year's draft and back to school for another year of seasoning.
Not that the draft would have been THAT much better even with Harrison Barnes, Perry Jones, Terrence Jones and Jared Sullinger in the mix.
And even if they were, the teams that would have drafted them wouldn't have known if they had taken a good player, since the NBA might very well keep its players from stepping on the hardwood if the owners and the players don't craft a new collective bargaining agreement before the current one comes due on July 1.
In the end, expect to see many of these same teams sending their nervous representatives back to NBA Studios around this time next year, wishing, hoping and praying that the lottery will yield not just a better pick, but a better crop of players to select from.