Who doesn’t love a good conspiracy theory?
Tonight the fortunes of a few select lucky teams will change when ESPN televises the 2010 NBA Draft Lottery at 8 PM ET. (For people that don’t know Lottery history and how it works click here )
Ever since its inception in 1985, the NBA Lottery conspiracy ranks up there with the JFK Assassination, UFOs, and for the extreme nut jobs, September 11th.
Lee Harvey Oswald, Roswell and Patrick Ewing?
Between 1985-1989, the lottery consisted of each non-playoff team’s logo placed in a separate envelope and positioned in a manually cranked “drum” to further mix-up the process.
In 1985, the draft prize was Georgetown center Patrick Ewing. A player deemed as an instant star that would bolster fan and financial interest, especially in a big market place like New York.
I don’t want to speculate too much on this issue for fear I will end up in the trunk of a car, but view the video above. You will see commissioner David Stern take a deep breath just before he reaches his hand into the bowl and flip over a few envelopes before pulling out what will eventually be revealed as the New York Knicks .
Some theorists say the Knicks envelope was frozen or cooled to allow Stern to easily identify his target (market), while others maintain he felt around the bowl for a bent corner.
Play with the YouTube video and freeze it at 47 seconds. You will see the bottom right corner of the envelope looking like a utility bill that sat on the floor of my car for a month.
Speaking of car, I don’t want to fear for my life every time I turn on the ignition, so I will end my Ewing theory there.
In 1990, the NBA switched to a weighted format that would give teams with the worst records better odds at securing a top pick. Over-sized envelopes were replaced with numbered ping-pong balls.
For the next thirteen years, I had no problem with how the Lottery process turned out, but I began questioning the legitimacy of the NBA Draft Lottery in 2003.
Since then, I haven’t wavered on my opinion, even if other people call ME the nut job.
The prize of the 2003 draft was a high school kid from Akron, Ohio named LeBron James. The Cleveland Cavaliers notably “tanked” a large number of games (17 wins) during the 2002 season to have a shot, 22.5 percent to be exact, at drafting the hometown James.
Now it’s reasonable to assume the Cavs earned the No. 1 pick by having the best odds, but this was the first time since 1990 that the team with the worst record received the top pick.
It also seems ironic it came at a time when the Cleveland franchise was in dire shape, and a local phenom just happened to be the “The Chosen One” that year.
The following year (2004) the Orlando Magic received (25 percent) the No. 1 overall pick with the worst record in the year, selecting high school phenom Dwight Howard .
In 2005 and 2006 there were not any clear-cut elite players at the top of the draft.
So the NBA covered it’s ass by allowing the Milwaukee Bucks and Toronto Raptors, two smaller market teams, to hold the top draft position respectively.
The Bucks went on to draft Andrew Bogut, while the Raptors selected Andrea Bargnani, both solid players, but no where near superstars in the league.
These back to back events allow the NBA to hypothetically claim “see, teams with all odds and backgrounds can claim the top spot and the lottery is truly a random process that works.”
The 2007 NBA Draft Lottery is the third most "shady" in terms of possible rigging since the inception.
The northwestern part of the United States was struggling to attract basketball fans and their revenue at this time. The Portland Trail Blazers and Seattle Supersonics were both on the verge of leaving their cities or collapsing financially.
Two of the biggest draft names since James were the two most coveted that year, Greg Oden (1A) and Kevin Durant (1AA).
The NBA is “Where Amazing Happens” and that’s exactly what happened on May 22, 2007.
The Blazers with a five percent chance won the top pick, while the Supersonics with a nine percent chance, landed the second pick.
While Oden has not lived up to the hype due to injury and the Sonics moved to Oklahoma City with Durant as a star, the Durant-Oden sweepstakes have no doubt turned the franchises in the right direction.
The following year, 2008, was even more bogus in terms of crying foul! The highly touted freshman playing for Memphis was also from Chicago, Illinois.
Derrick Rose was fresh off leading the Tigers to a National Championship game and was head and shoulders the biggest name in the draft.
Enter the Chicago Bulls, who had yet to recover from the retirement of Michael Jordan, yet were still in a big market with a huge following.
It took Stern all of two seconds to realize that a player like Rose would instantly help his hometown franchise similar to the way James did in Cleveland.
The Bulls had just over one and a half percent chance of obtaining the top pick, (or the same odds the Cubs have of winning the World Series). Sure enough, Chicago was revealed ahead of teams like Minnesota, Memphis, Milwaukee and Charlotte.
The bottom line: the NBA Draft Lottery needs to be fixed. No, not the kind of “fixed” in my conspiracy theory, but a complete overhaul.
Take the fourteen teams that did not make the playoffs and give each executive ONE logo engraved ping pong ball or envelope to bring to the LIVE lottery show. One by one, each person representing the franchise would put the item in the “Wheel of Fortune” like machine, so there would not be any controversy.
Allow some of those “Make-A-Wish” foundation kids to pull out the envelopes from 14 to one, eliminating any bias, as well as giving helping charity at the same time! It’s a win-win.
Not only would this correction make the draft process more fair, but it would also improve the integrity and quality of NBA games during the regular season. Teams would no longer tank to “improve their odds” in the NBA Draft Lottery, and the last month of the season wouldn’t be a complete joke to teams.
Here are the odds of the 2010 NBA Draft Lottery:
1. New Jersey Nets – 25.0 percent
2. Minnesota Timberwolves – 19.9 percent
3. Sacramento Kings – 15.6 percent
4. Golden State Warriors – 11.9 percent
5. Washington Wizards – 7.6 percent
6. Philadelphia 76ers – 7.5 percent
7. Detroit Pistons – 4.3 percent
8. Los Angeles Clippers – 2.8 percent
9. Utah Jazz (from NY Knicks) – 1.7 percent
10. Indiana Pacers – 1.1 percent
11. New Orleans Hornets – 0.8 percent
12. Memphis Grizzlies – 0.7 percent
13. Toronto Raptors – 0.6 percent
14. Houston Rockets 0.5 percent
The top prizes in this year’s draft are Kentucky point guard John Wall (who I’m not sold on) and Ohio St. combo guard Evan Turner (who I am sold on).
Utah, Memphis, Indiana, Memphis and Toronto shouldn’t even bother bringing a lucky hat, rabbits’s foot, or jock strap to the lottery tonight. You aren’t moving up.
If the New York Knicks were in place of the Indiana Pacers at No. 10, the odds would increase from 1.1 percent to 51.1%. Sorry Larry, the Pacers are just not important.
The New Jersey Nets are a lock to secure the No. 1 overall pick. I will be shocked if they are not given the opportunity to select Wall in June. I don’t think they tried losing on purpose this year, I think they just sucked.
The Nets are in a high-market area (YES Network , although I am pretty sure I saw their games on Comedy Central last year), will be under new ownership Mikhail Prokhorov, and are two years from playing in the Barclays Center in Brooklyn.
In fact, I need to find a sports book I can bet on the NBA Lottery.
Here are my predictions for tonight:
1. New Jersey Nets
2. Sacramento Kings
3. Philadelphia 76ers
The 76ers are in a big-market and could use a big name to bolster interest. Another interesting name in the lottery are the Houston Rockets . With the departure of Tracy McGrady, Yao Ming and the China fans need something to cheer about, can they overcome the 0.5 percent odds with a little help?
I also see the potential for the Golden State Warriors and Detroit Pistons making leaps as well. It would not shock me to see the Minnesota Timberwolves fall as low as they possibly can.
I played ESPN’s Lottery Mock Draft and got:
1. Nets: Wall,
2. Warriors: Turner,
3. 76ers: DeMarcus Cousins
Then again, who am I? Just another bum on the streets of Washington D.C ranting about conspiracy theories?