I was under the impression that the NBA’s annual draft lottery was to air at 4:30 p.m. PST. I sat down on the couch, opened up Twitter dot com, and expected something interesting to happen.
And, sure enough, I was wrong.
It turns out that ESPN decided to pack roughly 60 seconds of actual content into sixty minutes of programming. There were some extremely awkward interviews, some Jay Bilas Big Board stuff where he ruined his new slacks thinking about who had the longest wingspan, and a lot of speculation as to which players fit with which team (seems a little pointless given the whole point of the lottery is that the draft order had not yet been decided).
But I watched anyway, because what else am I gonna do? Read a book? Go outside? Don’t make me laugh.
Then everyone talked about how great it would be if the Knicks got the first pick (it wouldn’t; they would definitely fuck it up) and mostly just did their best to ignore all the small market teams, like they do for the rest of the year. Consistency, at the very least.
At long last, after most of the hour had been sold to the highest bidder, the ping pong balls became subject to the powers of centripetal force, and the fate of the NBA’s next generation was thus decided.
Here’s where each team was slated to pick prior to the lottery:
- Denver Nuggets (46-36)
- LA Clippers (42-40)
- LA Clippers via Detroit Pistons (39-43)
- Charlotte Hornets (36-46)
- Philadelphia 76ers/Boston Celtics via LA Lakers (35-47)
- New York Knicks (29-53)
- Cleveland Cavaliers via Brooklyn Nets (35-47)
- Sacramento Kings (27-55)
- Chicago Bulls (27-55)
- Orlando Magic (25-57)
- Atlanta Hawks (24-58)
- Dallas Mavericks (24-58)
- Memphis Grizzlies (22-60)
- Phoenix Suns (21-61)
And here’s the way the ping pong balls fell:
- Denver Nuggets
- LA Clippers
- LA Clippers
- Charlotte Hornets
- Philadelphia 76ers
- New York Knicks
- Cleveland Cavaliers
- Chicago Bulls
- Orlando Magic
- Dallas Mavericks
- Memphis Grizzlies
- Atlanta Hawks
- Sacramento Kings
- Phoenix Suns
I, for one, was very pleased. That’s because I’m a fan of the Sacramento Kings. Nothing good has happened to us in, well, ever. The Kings haven’t had the first pick in the draft since 1989, when they were granted the dubious privilege of drafting “Never Nervous” Pervis Ellison. Since then, they’ve been ritually fucked by the ping pong balls (usually that only happens at the Red Light District in Amsterdam), the team almost moved multiple times from 2007 to 2013, and of course there was the 2002 Western Conference Finals against the Lakers (that’s an article for another time).
Given their misfortune over the years, the Kings should have the first pick. And probably several first picks. But this is nice. The way I’m going to look at it is the Kings will have the first pick of whoever the Suns don’t take.
All signs point to the Suns taking DeAndre Ayton, Arizona’s freshman big man. That would leave Slovenian phenom Luka Dončić for the Kings, and for the love of all that is holy, that better be the guy they take. There’s a chance the first two picks could be flip-flopped, and the main reason for that is Phoenix hired Igor Kokoškov as head coach, who coached the Donc man on the Slovenian national team this past summer.
This could obviously look really dumb in a few years, but it doesn’t seem like you could go wrong with either guy. Ayton is an NBA-ready big man and the Donc man has rare skill for a wing player.
Those two appear to be the cream of the crop, and then you have some really good prospects trailing them in the top 10 like Marvin Bagley, Jaren Jackson, Michael Porter, Mo Bamba, Trae Young, Collin Sexton, and Mikal Bridges. By all accounts, it’s a pretty deep draft.
So was the hour of pageantry and tomfoolery from ESPN all worth it? Maybe. In the end I got what I wanted, and that’s really all that matters.
Well, to be fair, what really matters is the actual draft. See ya in June.