NBA Rumor: Draft Lottery

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Regardless, there’s no doubt the Timberwolves will take the major victory anyway, as landing the No. 1 pick gives the franchise a ton of flexibility, be it to acquire their next franchise cornerstone to fit alongside Karl-Anthony Towns and D’Angelo Russell or to trade down for multiple assets. What’s interesting is that even with the huge win in this year’s draft lottery, the Wolves still hold the honor of statistically being the unluckiest team in lottery history. That’s how bad their luck had been before this year.

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With Minnesota moving up for the first time, that leaves just the Dallas Mavericks, the Detroit Pistons, the Denver Nuggets and the Miami Heat as the only teams who have never moved up from their pre-lottery position. On the other side of the spectrum, the three luckiest teams in lottery history are the Philadelphia 76ers, the Oklahoma City Thunder and the Charlotte Hornets, who have moved up eight times and three times apiece respectively.

They consider Lacob unusually lucky, for various reasons. He told them, semi-facetiously, something to the effect of: “I don’t do lotteries. I do championships.” When ESPN’s Ramona Shelburne asked Lacob about that cheeky line, he chuckled. “This is gonna be like the ‘light years’ thing,” Lacob said. “I did say that. But when you’re in last place, you shouldn’t really have much to say.” Stephen Curry was the next and obvious choice. He had one request, Golden State higher-ups said: Ask Klay first. Thompson apparently passed.

“We couldn’t be more pleased to land the first overall pick in this year’s draft, marking only the second time in franchise history,” said Timberwolves President of Basketball Operations Gersson Rosas. “We are excited for the possibilities ahead of us to bring in a high caliber player now that we secured the first overall selection. As a front office, we are proud of what we’ve built here in Minnesota so far and we are looking forward to continuing to build upon that foundation in this year’s draft.”

“I’m glad I could represent for the state of Minnesota at the draft lottery the same way we plan to show out for our fans when we get back on the court,” said Timberwolves guard D’Angelo Russell. “The number one pick is exciting to have, it makes me think back to when Karl and I got drafted 1,2 in the 2015 draft. There’s so much buzz and energy during the draft as a player and I really look forward to seeing what Gersson and the front office will do to build upon our 2020-21 roster with this pick. I know we’re ready to compete and I can’t wait to see who joins us next.”

Now that the Wizards have lost their first two games at Disney World, that rule is coming back into the forefront. The Wizards are currently tied in the loss column with the Hornets, who aren’t in Orlando but are locked in with the eighth-best lottery odds. What that means is if the Wizards continue to lose, they can’t gain more ping-pong balls for lottery night, which is set for Aug. 25. And now there is a distinct possibility they could have worse odds than a team with a better win percentage than them.

It would be a cruel twist for the Wizards, who need as much help as they can get in this year’s draft as they hope to find another blue chip prospect to add to their burgeoning young core. Making that pick count is especially important given their salary cap situation with John Wall and Bradley Beal on the books, which has left them with fewer resources to work with. They could get another key rotation player on a rookie contract. The good news is that the lottery rules were changed more permanently before last year’s drawing in order to create more parity in the annual event. It smoothed out the odds to discourage tanking and the results in its first year were as-intended.

I’ve asked a handful of sources about this. They continue to provide the same answer: The league has plenty to figure out and the answers aren’t easy. Each time there seems to be a workable solution, another problem emerges. But it seems like the usual off-season events — draft, free agency, summer league — have been pushed down the priority list. The primary focus centers on a return-to-play strategy — if possible. Once that decision is made, there should be more clarity on other issues.

BTIG analyst Brandon Ross wrote on Monday that trades and player moves this summer could have a “significant impact” on the Knicks as well as Madison Square Garden Co. and MSG Networks. “The situation is much more pressing for MSG Networks, which is fighting strong industry headwinds with a weak product carrying a high price tag,” Ross said in a note to clients. “If the Knicks can transform into a winner, ratings should follow, and MSGN’s affiliate negotiations should become easier and advertising revenue could increase substantially.”

See, the lottery’s format back then was different than it is today. There were 11 non-playoff teams in ‘93. And the rules didn’t derive from any complicated algorithms, handing the three organizations with the league’s worst records 14 percent odds each, then slightly worse percentages down the line, as they do today. “(Today’s system) is impossible to explain to anybody but an MIT mathematician,” Williams joked. “I have sat in the back room now for four or five years. And I see it unfold and have no idea what’s going on.”

Williams likes to think former NBA commissioner David Stern changed the rules in his mind before he’d even shook hands with the Magic exec after winning a second consecutive season. “I had to bite my lip after we won because nobody in that room was happy for us. Nobody,” Williams remembered. “You watch the video; you’ll see shock but no dancing. I tiptoed up to the stage, but David Stern was not happy to see me. He was not happy. (He was) like, ‘How did this happen to my lottery? This is not why we put it in there.’”

The Knicks, Cavaliers and Phoenix Suns each have a 14 percent chance of landing the top pick on Tuesday night. All three clubs also have a 40 percent chance of landing a top-three pick and a 52 percent chance of landing a top-four pick. The Knicks will pick no lower than fifth since they finished with the league’s worst record (17-65). Perry on Monday said, no matter where the Knicks land, their meetings with individual draft prospects will play a key role in whom they decide to select.

Question: How nervous are you for the teams, and do you sense the drama in that room? Kiki VanDeWeghe: Absolutely. The interesting thing is everybody is in the same spot. It’s an interesting dynamic. The other teams are competitors with each other. But they are all in this room sequestered together — all really nervous and excited at the same time. It’s an interesting atmosphere. It’s very cordial because everyone is in this together. The cell phones are put away, there’s no way to communicate with anybody. We’re a group amongst ourselves. We know a little bit ahead of everyone else what the results are.

Q: What is it like knowing the blockbuster news before the rest of the world? Kiki VanDeWeghe: The minutes are really long. I can tell you that. Once you find out what the results are — it’s so important to what it means to a franchise — that they’re dying for everyone else to know. In some respects, the teams want to make sure, hey, we didn’t get the top pick, we did get the top pick. All those things you’re dying to communicate. It’s a very long half-hour.

Q: How do you feel the lottery reform worked in changing the odds for the worst three teams? Vandeweghe: If you look at us over the years, ever since the lottery was instituted, we’ve adjusted them five times. The idea of having the three teams with the least wins, they have 14 percent [chance of winning the first pick] — the odds smoothing out a bit. I think it is good. It’s a fair way to do it. Is it perfect? There probably is no perfect [way]. It’s a work in progress. That’s one of the great things working here we‘re always trying to improve things. That comes from the top with Adam [Silver, NBA commissioner]. Always trying to innovate and make sure, even though this is a fantastic year and the playoffs are great and we’re seeing some of the best talent we’ve ever had on the basketball court. How can we make it better?

Ex-Knick Kiki VanDeWeghe is the NBA’s executive VP who is in his sixth season moderating the behind-the-scenes actual ping-pong-ball lottery drawing and has an interesting viewpoint of how the NBA draft lottery works. He gives his thought about the process, the anticipation and the changes ahead of the drawing Tuesday to determine the order for the June 20 draft — when Duke star Zion Williamson is expected to be the No. 1 pick. Question: How nervous are you for the teams, and do you sense the drama in that room? Vandeweghe: Absolutely. The interesting thing is everybody is in the same spot. It’s an interesting dynamic. The other teams are competitors with each other. But they are all in this room sequestered together — all really nervous and excited at the same time. It’s an interesting atmosphere. It’s very cordial because everyone is in this together. The cell phones are put away, there’s no way to communicate with anybody. We’re a group amongst ourselves. We know a little bit ahead of everyone else what the results are.



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