NBA Should Bring Back Draft Lottery Drama

Rodd CaytonCorrespondent IMay 20, 2009

MEMPHIS, TN - MARCH 29:  Tyler Hansbrough #50 of the North Carolina Tar Heels shoots the ball over Blake Griffin #23 of the Oklahoma Sooners in the first half during the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament South Regional Final at the FedExForum on March 29, 2009 in Memphis, Tennessee.  (Photo by Joe Murphy/Getty Images)

The Los Angeles Clippers have the first pick in the upcoming NBA Draft. Not that they haven't earned it, but hearing about it afterward sort of takes away some of the potential excitement of the moment.

I think the Association needs to change its draft lottery and a couple of other things before it can truly be at its best. Right now, the lottery is my concern.

Remember back in 1985, when the lottery would determine who would get the first pick and take Georgetown center Patrick Ewing? Seven teams were in it (the Clippers had traded away their pick), each having an equal shot at the top prize.

The envelopes containing the team, logos were sealed and mixed, then placed on a board. One by one, the envelopes were opened, least-fortunate team first, and the drama built. Who would get Ewing?

Turns out the Knicks got him, but the point is it made for excellent television. It began going downhill a few years later, with the envelopes being used only to determine the first three selections, with teams without top-three picks simply drafting in reverse order of finish.

But it was still good TV.

Then, came the ping-pong balls.

Each team's logo was placed on a number of ping-pong balls, with the NBA's worst team getting the most balls and the best non-playoff team getting the fewest. The balls went into a hopper, and the first ball drawn out determined who got the first pick. It took place behind closed doors, providing no excitement.

Now, it's even worse. The balls have numbers on them, and four of 14 are drawn. Depending on which four numbers are drawn, someone is happy, but not me. It's done behind closed doors and the drama is not present.

I'd rather go back to the envelopes. Even just to determine the first three picks. Failing that, the only reasonable solution is the original ping-pong ball setup, but in reverse.

I'd have the first ball drawn out get the 14th pick, and the last team to have a ball selected gets that year's Ewing or Blake Griffin. To those concerned about "fairness," how about 14 balls for the Suns and one for the Kings?

The best thing about that setup is the buildup it lends itself to—the whole world could watch the drama, mouths agape.


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