Archive for the ‘NBA Draft’ Category

Luck is one of the most difficult concepts in the world to explain. At times, it can imply coincidence, fortune or destiny. Other times, it can signify adversity, hardship and cruel inevitability.

Good luck can be Cupid, a capricious but well-meaning trickster that arranges a chance meeting. Bad luck can be a Siren, a salacious femme fatale that tempts our emotions but ultimately betrays our trust.

It can be fickle, mercurial and whimsical. Above all, it is unpredictable. One thing I would like to see before I die is the face of someone who just realized that they won a huge lottery jackpot. It would be a tremendous mix of disbelief, shock and terror.

If I won, I wouldn’t leave the house for weeks to avoid anything that could potentially kill me. I wouldn’t even eat. The amount of paranoia I would have would make John Nash feel like a carefree hippie. I think that’s why it usually takes lottery winners so long to come forward. They’re not consulting wealth advisers or deciding whether to take the lump sum or annuity. They’re cowering in a corner in an instinctual effort to survive. Speaking of the lottery, this woman’s lawyer may be the most gullible man in the world. That’d be a great new series of commercials for Dos Equis.

The recent Mega Millions jackpot got me thinking about an annual rite of summer in the NBA; the team that defies the odds and moves up to the #1 or #2 pick in the draft. In the last decade, only twice has the worst team in the league actually ended up with the #1 pick, Cleveland in 2003 (LeBron James) and Orlando in 2004 (Dwight Howard). This fact lends credence to the NBA’s weighted lottery system, which has severely limited the effectiveness of late-season tank-a-thons. That being said, here is a list of the most fortunate teams of the last decade:

2002: Houston moves up from #5 to win the top pick, selecting Yao Ming and going on to some successful seasons before his 7-6 body gave out. The biggest storyline of this upset, in my opinion, was Golden State missing out on Yao. The Bay Area had an Asian population in 2002 of about 1.3 million. Yao would have ignited this fan base and created a revenue gold mine for the Warriors in California and Southeast Asia.

2003: Cleveland, with the league’s worst record, won the lottery and selected LeBron James. Detroit, who owned the rights to Memphis’ top pick, moved up to #2 from an expected #6, only to take Darko Milicic. Somewhere, Joe Dumars just woke up in a cold sweat.

2004: Terrible draft overall. #1, Dwight Howard, goes to the worst team, the Orlando Magic. The Clippers move up from #5 to #2, then trade it to the expansion Charlotte Bobcats for the #4 and the #33, which is turned into Shawn Livingston and Lionel Chalmers. Same Lionel Chalmers as this deal involving Marko Jaric and a certain unprotected Timberwolves 1st round pick in 2012 now going to New Orleans. Ouch.

2005: Milwaukee moves up from #6 to steal the top overall pick and takes Andrew Bogut.

2006: Toronto snags the #1 pick, moving up from #5. They select Andrea Bargnani, allowing Adam Morrison to fall into Michael Jordan’s lap at #3.

2007: In theory, the most improbable top two ever. Here’s the math: Portland (5.3% chance of#1 pick) x Seattle (9.7% chance of #2 pick) = .0051 = .51%, meaning that combination would happen approximately once out of every 200 trials. Greg Oden went #1 and perennial MVP candidate Kevin Durant goes #2 to Seattle. Any Blazers can now feel free to stop reading and drink a beer.

2008: The most statistically improbable top two ever, only because of the Bulls 1.7% chance of getting #1 affecting everything else . The Chicago Bulls channel the luck of the South Side Irish to win the Derrick Rose sweepstakes, taking pole position from the NBA-worst Miami Heat. Already with one MVP, the Rose selection could go down as one of the great heists in NBA history. We would all feel worse for the Heat if not for this bombastic monstrosity of a video.

2009: The Los Angeles Clippers move up from an expected #3 to take Blake Griffin at #1. Memphis moves up to #2 from #6 and take James Harden. Wait, they took who? To make things worse, here’s a video of James Harden dunking on Hasheem Thabeet. I bet Thunder GM Sam Presti immediately sent a postcard of this image to Grizzlies’ GM Chris Wallace, simply saying “Thank You.”

2010: Third-most statistically improbable top two of all-time after 2007 and 2008. Washington (10.3% chance of #1 pick) x Philadelphia (6.0% chance of #2 pick) = .0062 = .62%. Washington selects John Wall and Philly takes Evan Turner. Right now, it looks like this luck won’t impact the franchises as much as the 2007 picks.

2011: Not much significant movement, with Cleveland moving up to #1 from #2 and selecting Kyrie Irving.

As the saying goes, “Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity.” As a fan of the Minnesota Timberwolves, who have dropped in the lottery three consecutive years, I couldn’t agree more. I prepare myself to lose the lottery, and look forward to the opportunity to complain about it afterwards. This year, however, I will not be forced to succumb to the annual vagaries of the ping-pong balls. Thanks to the aforementioned Marko Jaric deal, the Timberwolves have no 1st round pick and will thus spare me the malcontent of another disappointment. Good thing too, because, as one of the deepest drafts in the last decade, Murphy’s law would have struck will unparalleled evil and no remorse.


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