Because it lacks the transparency that would dismiss most rumors of it being rigged, there are boundless conspiracy theories associated with the NBA Draft lottery selection.
Tonight’s selection, for a number of reasons, is the same way.
First, there are a number of franchises who have seen their attendance and, as a result, revenue, drop steadily for a long period of time. A top two pick in this year’s draft could be the most important step in stopping that trend for that particular team.
Second, it could have major implications on this year’s draft. Most mock drafts have John Wall going first in the draft. Wall is an electric playmaker who looks like he is destined to be a premier point guard in the league for years to come. Many mock drafts have DeMarcus Cousins, Wall’s teammate at Kentucky, going No. 4. Cousins has been described as an immature, unathletic big man.
The difference in this year’s draft between the No. 1 and No. 2 picks — most likely Wall and Ohio State’s Evan Turner — and No. 3 and No. 4 — projected by multiple mock drafts to be Georgia Tech forward Derrick Favors and Cousins — is enormous.
With that in mind, let’s rank the lottery teams 1-14 in reverse order for who needs to get one of the top-two picks in tonight’s lottery. The tiebreaker in this exercise will be the team who deserves to win.
Let’s get to it…
14 – Utah Jazz (From NY Knicks)
They already have a franchise point guard in Deron Williams and reached the Western Conference Semis this year. They’re the best team in the lottery, even if Carlos Boozer walks this summer.
13 – Houston Rockets
THe Rockets finished ninth in the West this year despite Yao Ming missing the entire year and Tracy McGrady being ineffective before he was traded. More than likely, Houston will land the 14th pick and probably turn it into one of the seven or eight best players in this year’s draft. Their front office is that good.
12 – Memphis Grizzlies
They’re a young team on the rise with a lot of promise. A player like Turner would probably help them a lot, but at this point they would be probably be best served in acquiring a quality player in the draft who could simply fold into the mix and not take away shots from Z-Bo, Rudy Gay and OJ Mayo.
11 – New Orleans Hornets
Chris Paul missed most of this season because of injury. Though the Hornets are struggling financially, they still possess probably the game’s best point guard and David West, who complements Paul very well. And while a player like Turner (this is a theme — Turner would fit in well with a lot of teams in this year’s draft because he’s so versatile) could probably fit in with New Orleans, I really don’t think the Hornets would want to pay that kind of money to Turner with Paul and West already on the books. Example 1: Tyson Chandler.
10. LA Clippers
The Clip Show won the Blake Griffin sweepstakes last year and when you look at their roster, it’s clear that they’re on the rise. A player like Turner or Wall would do wonders for their franchise, but they have Baron Davis on the roster and a couple of quality swing players. They’re in good shape moving forward.
9. Detroit Pistons
Look, I think it’s common knowledge at this point that the Pistons are going to be bad for a long time. Detroit has one of the most enthusiastic fanbases in the league, but that was before Joe Dumars spent over $100 million on Charlie Villanueva and Ben Gordon. With Isiah Thomas no longer serving as the GM of the Knicks, it’s hard to see how the Pistons are going to escape those two colossal mistakes. They need Wall, but the egregious incompetence by their front office lands them at this spot.
8. Minnesota Timberwolves
I don’t think there’s any question that this is probably the most hopeless franchise in the league. The majority of the NBA season is played when it’s cold outside and there’s nowhere more unappealing for an NBA free
agent to sign than the dead-cold of Minnesota. The T’Wolves know this and have responded by building a nucleus of young players through trades and the draft. The problem with this strategy is David Kahn completely screwed up in 2009, drafting two point guards with the fifth and sixth picks in the 2009 draft when Stephen Curry, the draft’s best perimeter shooter, and Brandon Jennings were both still available. This move continues to be one of the most confounding of all-time and is the reason why Minnesota doesn’t deserve one of the top two draft picks.
7. Toronto Raptors
This is where things get tough. It’s a foregone conclusion that Chris Bosh is going to leave this summer, but Toronto has also screwed things up pretty badly with poor investments in the past. Hedo is an ineffective player and Andrea Bargnani is basically a three-point shooting 7-footer. It can be argued that the only way the Raptors can bring in a top-end talent like Wall or Turner is through the draft, but I feel the Raptors need to hit rock bottom in the post-Bost era to truly appreciate things when they get better.
6. Washington Wizards
Caron Butler and Antawn Jamison were utter disappointments in this year’s playoffs and Gilbert Arenas has been disappointing ever since he inked his unfathomable contract extension. But does a team that signed Arenas to that kind of contract given his bad knee and me-first attitude on offense (not to mention the same team that had two players pull guns on each other) really deserve Wall or Turner? I say no and if the NBA Draft is rigged in any way, there’s no way Washington gets a pick in the top-two.
They hit a home run with Tyreke Evans in last year’s draft. The success he had in his rookie year has been well documented, so for that simple reason the Kings don’t need to win the lottery. They simply need to surround Evans with players who will complement his game.
4. Golden State
The Warriors didn’t screw up the Stephen Curry pick, but their front office has made a number of bad investments (Monta Ellis & Corey Maggette’s contracts come to mind) in the past. They routinely have D-Leaguers playing point guard and putting up crazy numbers because they have a free-wheeling system that is fun to watch, but won’t win them any championships. But Golden State’s crowd is probably the best in the NBA and their fans deserve better. It would initially be fun to see Wall land in Golden State simply because he would put up insane numbers and their fanbase would be energized, but just because the Warriors land a franchise player doesn’t change their front office’s incompetence.
Elton Brand, Elton Brand, Elton Brand. One of the biggest themes in this countdown so far are the poor signings or draft picks GMs have made. Detroit, Washington, Toronto and Philadelphia all fall into this category. The 76ers paid too much for Andre Igoudala and Elton Brand has been a complete disappointment since signing with Philly. But there is absolutely nothing exciting about this team and I feel like they need to add a spark to the franchise. John Wall would serve as that spark.
2. Indiana Pacers
I watch this team 3 or 4 times a year when they play the Bulls and ever since Ron Artest and Stephen Jackson went into the stands and Reggie Miller retired, the Pacers have been the most boring team to watch. Their players are always bland, their crowds seem disinterested and as good of a player as Danny Granger is, he’s probably the most boring star in the league. The Pacers are continuing the effort to rebuild their franchise’s image, but the only way to truly rebuild the image is to prove that you can win with good guys. Wall fits in this category and, if by some miracle the Pacers would win Tuesday’s draft lottery, I think the Pacers could save their franchise by proving their plan was justified.
1. New Jersey Nets
The Nets were 12-70 last year. Their record was historically bad. Their current roster has Devin Harris, Robin Lopez and a bunch of scrubs. But enter the Russian version of Mark Cuban, a move to Brooklyn in 2011 and John Wall and suddenly the Nets are one of the three most likely teams to win the LeBron James sweepstakes this summer. Quite simply, the Nets chances to land LeBron hinge completely and utterly on tonight’s draft lottery. If they don’t win, they can kiss their chances at LeBron goodbye. But if they do, there is a very real chance that the Nets transform from historically bad in 2009-2010 to acquiring one of the league’s best point guards and a reigning two-time MVP in a matter of months.
This post was written by Eric Van Dril, a co-founder of this website who ended his 11-month TTT retirement last week. Check him out on Twitter.