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TOPIC: NBA Lottery

NBA Lottery 1 week 4 hours ago #349088

  • jerseyshorejohnny
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The Zion Williamson Lottery Is the NBA’s Mega-Millions

Almost half the league has a shot at the biggest phenomenon since LeBron James. But no team has better than a 14% chance. Not even the New York Knicks.



May 14, 2019 / Wall Street Journal

The New York Knicks have spent the last couple of decades being awful at basketball. But for the last year, being awful at basketball has actually been their strategy, and they executed it to perfection. They did everything in their power to lose as many games as possible this season.

Their reward for being so terrible: slightly better than terrible odds of landing Zion Williamson.

The entire NBA will be standing around to watch a bunch of ping-pong balls on Tuesday night because this is the draft lottery that can change the league. It’s the Mega Millions of the NBA. There are 1,001 ways for a team to win the Zion Williamson sweepstakes, and the 14 teams in the lottery can still delude themselves into believing they’re about to land the most coveted basketball prospect since LeBron James, the only player who also happens to be a sneaker bulldozer.

No team has better odds than the Knicks. But only the Knicks could have picked the worst possible year to be purposefully horrible. Because this year, for the first time, the worst team in the NBA doesn’t have sole possession of the best lottery odds.

Until last season, the NBA’s worst team had a 25% chance at the No. 1 pick, and that team happened to win the last four lotteries. But in an effort to disincentivize teams from tanking, the league gave the three worst teams an equal 14% shot at the right to draft Williamson. The Knicks, Cleveland Cavaliers and Phoenix Suns still have a few hours left to rub their rabbit’s feet, while the Chicago Bulls (12.5%), Atlanta Hawks (10.5%) and Washington Wizards (9%) are hoping they sacrificed enough games to please the basketball gods.


Most people look at low-probability events and trick themselves into thinking they can never happen. Knicks fans have looked at this low-probability event for the last year and managed to come away thinking that it’s definitely going to happen.

The Knicks’ quest for Williamson began as an accident and turned into a mission. They once had visions of actually being good at basketball this year, but those went kaput the season before, when Kristaps Porzingis tore his ACL. Then the Knicks did everything within their power to finish at the bottom of the league.

They preached the concept of player development more than most college teams. They stopped playing Enes Kanter and cut him only to watch him play a key role for the Portland Trail Blazers in the playoffs. They traded a rehabbing Porzingis and their leading scorer Tim Hardaway Jr. to clear salary-cap space at the trade deadline.

Those moves gave the Knicks two types of hope. One was quantifiable: all that tanking left them with a 1-in-7 chance at Williamson. The other remains a mystery: what they’ll do with their mountains of cash this summer. They hope to land a pair of top free agents, but hope has never really worked for the Knicks. If they win the lottery, though, they could be a more attractive destination to stars like Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving. In other words, if they want the improbable to happen this summer, they may need something even more improbable to happen on Tuesday night.




It’s not just the Knicks. Williamson appears to be the type of generational talent who could turn the fortunes of any team that takes him. He’s a one-man stimulus plan.

John Beilein, the Michigan coach who took over Cleveland this week, will have lucked into the NBA’s most interesting coaching job if the Cavaliers win the lottery. The Suns could add Williamson to the league’s most tantalizing collection of young talent. The Wizards could land someone with unanimous approval ratings in Washington. The Dallas Mavericks (6%) have visions of him with Luka Doncic, and the Atlanta Hawks (10.5%) are dreaming about Trae Young throwing alley-oops to basketball’s largest trampoline. The New Orleans Pelicans (6%) could back into a player who helps them convince Anthony Davis, the Zion Williamson of his draft, to stick around for another season. The Philadelphia 76ers (1%) could put him next to Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons and dominate the Eastern Conference for a decade. And the Bulls could finally have the heir apparent to some other guy who could dunk from the foul line.

Then there is the Armageddon scenario: Zion Williamson to the Los Angeles Lakers.

The Lakers were not very good in their first season with LeBron James, but even they weren’t bad enough to delude themselves into thinking Williamson can be their next savior. Their probability of the No. 1 pick is 2% while they have a 9.4% shot at sneaking into the top four.



But here’s the scary thing: LeBron James’s teams have been built around overcoming worse odds.

The year after he left Cleveland for the first time, the Cavaliers were predictably dreadful. They had the second-worst record in the league. But they didn’t get the No. 1 pick that year because they were bad. They got it because they were ridiculously lucky.


A few months before the 2011 draft, the Cavaliers traded Mo Williams and Jamario Moon to the Los Angeles Clippers for Baron Davis and their 2.8% chance at the No. 1 pick. It turned out to be a trade that deal that would change their entire franchise. The lottery balls went the Clippers’ way, which meant they really went the Cavaliers’ way, and they used the first pick on Kyrie Irving. (Minnesota Timberwolves fans don’t need to be reminded that with the No. 2 pick, they took Derrick Williams, who’s currently playing in Germany.)

It was another unlikely bounce of some ping-pong balls that helped bring James back to Cleveland when Irving blossomed into the kind of star he wanted to play with. This one was even more of a long shot. The Cavaliers had a 1.7% shot at No. 1 in 2014—worse than the Lakers’ odds this season—when they got lucky again and parlayed that pick into a trade for Kevin Love. (Minnesota Timberwolves fans also don’t need to be reminded that Andrew Wiggins, that No. 1 pick, hasn’t exactly turned out as they hoped.)

James, Irving and Love were the three players who brought a championship to Cleveland two years later, in a reminder of why the stakes are so high on nights like Tuesday: They couldn’t have won a title if they hadn’t won the lottery.

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NBA Lottery 1 week 40 minutes ago #349089

  • jetstorm
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Nothing to see here!
Move on.

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NBA Lottery 6 days 19 hours ago #349093

  • Jack Williams
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One of the worst things for the NBA. Zion getting sent to a terrible franchise in a city that couldn’t care less. The god damn pelicans. What a nightmare for the nba

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NBA Lottery 6 days 15 hours ago #349095

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They did it to themselves with the lottery shift. I don't think tanking is the best option for a competitive league but I think the idea that you would get rid of tanking by this shift is wrong. Instead, you have the three or four teams, who would be tanking anyway, joined at the end of the year by teams like the Lakers, who tanked down the stretch to get into contention for a pick...which paid off. Dumb rule change. But then again, being a Knicks fan, I have only been luke warm towards the NBA for about the last 20 years.
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NBA Lottery 6 days 15 hours ago #349096

  • SI1996
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NBA takes a loss in this as well. Knicks and Lakers both in the final 4 to get Zion to a prime marketing location and what happens??? The f'n Pelicans lol

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NBA Lottery 6 days 15 hours ago #349098

  • Moose
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The biggest knock on the NBA (which by the way is perfectly fine from a business perspective entrenched 2nd behind the NFL and rising) has been the super teams over the last few years. I'm sure when the next CBA is up they will do more to avoid super teams but in the meantime a player like Zion ending up in a small market isn't a bad thing.

Besides I thought I read awhile back that Zion was quoted as saying he would have preferred not going to a big market.

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NBA Lottery 6 days 15 hours ago #349099

  • Mike Zaun
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The NBA deserves this with how stupid the change was. As I said I think there should be something where they take the past 3 seasons cumulatively into consideration. In other words, if teams tank it's usually just for a year to get a top player. It's much more unlikely they'd tank purposely 3 straight years. At the same time, you want to boost the teams with losing cultures to make things interesting especially with huge market teams like the Knicks. Whomever has the worst 3 year window to that point should have a very very good chance of getting the 1st pick. This prevents most tanking and still boosts the Knicks and others. You could see on Zion's face that he was pissed. Honestly I don't think Morant or Barrett will amount to much more than perhaps solid NBA players but not stars. Zion was the only one who had a chance rendering anything but the 1st pick meaningless IMO. We already have solid young guys, we need star power.

I also propose a type A/type B classification for all players. I know there are some dicey aspects here i.e. how do you define them, but it could be done. It should be called the "Superteam Rule" and only allow a certain number of type A stars e.g. Durant, LeBron, etc. to be on the same team. No more "big 3" BS. Of course they will get the occasional lucky team like the Blazers (go Mo!), but we all know the Warriors will win anyway. It becomes 4 or 5 defacto all star teams against everyone else. It's basically a pyramid where the top 25 players are on the top 5 teams instead of spread out. LeBron, Wade, Bosh, Allen shouldn't have been allowed. I'd rather see most teams have at least 1 legit type A guy than a few teams have all the type A's giving everyone else no chance.

It's stuff like this that makes the NBA unwatchable and the Knicks being cursed doesn't help at all. I'm glad the Knicks landed top 3 at least, but as the old adage goes "never the bride always the bridesmaid". IMO no team should be allowed to get two 1st overall picks within a handful or so of years.

Fixes to the NBA:
1. Enforce traveling more
2. Type A/Type B designations with trades/FA to prevent superteams and divas
3. Make the odds to get the 1st overall pick harder for teams who just got 1 a handful of yrs ago
4. Consider 3 yr windows with combined records and make it almost certain a team that has been awful 3 straight yrs gets 1st overall pick.

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NBA Lottery 6 days 14 hours ago #349103

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If you look at where the Cavs and Suns ended up the Knicks are fortunate. I don’t like the idea of tanking and even less so for a big market team. Does anyone think that FAs will be flocking to the Pellies or Griz? I didn’t think so. This may be the only way they can get talent at least for the length of the rookie contract. The Knicks fall back as they should have a shot for a couple big names.
Under this structure the big loser is the league. No doubt a guy like Zion has endless possibilities in NY and LA. Anthony Davis has been a premiere talent and I for one have only watched him play once or twice. The idea of watching Pellies/Griz bores me. That is just one man’s opinion.

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NBA Lottery 6 days 14 hours ago #349104

  • Logen
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Many may disagree, but as a basketball junkie who finds the NBA unwatchable, I trace it back to David Stern's decision to market the league as a superstar driven one at the expense of the team. Color me old school and old fashioned. IMO, the NBA is just a glorified playground game in which "superstars" are protected and stats somewhat inflated by the preferential refereeing. On the other side of the coin, albeit with great, great players. Mullin brought that approach to SJU and I hated it. BTW, I do not knock Stern one bit from a purely business point of view.
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NBA Lottery 6 days 14 hours ago #349106

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sjc88 wrote: If you look at where the Cavs and Suns ended up the Knicks are fortunate. I don’t like the idea of tanking and even less so for a big market team. Does anyone think that FAs will be flocking to the Pellies or Griz? I didn’t think so. This may be the only way they can get talent at least for the length of the rookie contract. The Knicks fall back as they should have a shot for a couple big names.
Under this structure the big loser is the league. No doubt a guy like Zion has endless possibilities in NY and LA. Anthony Davis has been a premiere talent and I for one have only watched him play once or twice. The idea of watching Pellies/Griz bores me. That is just one man’s opinion.


Convince Kwahi Leonard to sign with NO. That team wins five out of the next eight championships. They'd be on national TV a ton. The world is 'flat'. Social media / streaming / TV doesn't mean that stars can't thrive in small markets.

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