I’ll be blunt: The NBA Draft Lottery system is idiotic and shouldn’t exist. It’s done more damage to fledgling teams and has only encouraged tanking. But we can’t get rid of it because people like it. It’s become a must-see event. Sort of like when the WWE reshuffles the Smackdown and Raw rosters every year. Only difference is WWE fans know it’s all unnecessary bullshit. NBA fans haven’t gotten the memo the lottery is needless pomp and circumstance.
Take the 2009 draft for instance. The Miami Heat won a mere 15-games after forgoing their pride benching D-Wade for half the season. Entering the lottery, Miami had the best odds to attain the first overall selection and Memphis star Derrick Rose. People salivated at the prospect of a Rose-Wade backcourt. Except, the Chicago Bulls, who were most likely to select at nine jumped eight spots took the hometown hero.
Did the NBA prioritize sending Rose to Chicago and rig the lottery? Of course! This is sports. Absolutely nothing is on the up and up. It’s the only business you can legally rig something.
But imagine Rose in Miami. Immediately Rose’s ACL injury in 2012 butterflies away and we’re given more years of his prime and less him being a shell of his former MVP self.
If the NBA Draft order went by worst record and the order of players taken remained the same, the league is probably in a better place:
First: Miami – Rose
Second: Seattle – Beasley
Third: Memphis – O.J Mayo
Fourth: Minnesota – Russell Westbrook
Fifth: New York – Kevin Love
Sixth: Los Angeles – Danilo Gallinari
Seventh: Milwaukee – Eric Gordon
Seventeenth: Toronto – Roy Hibbert
Nineteenth: Cleveland – George Hill
Twenty-Third: Utah – Serge Ibaka
Twenty-Fourth: Seattle – DeAndre Jordan
The future OKC Thunder core of Durant-Westbrook-Harden-Ibaka turns into KD-Beasley-Harden-DJ real quick. Maybe they’re better off for it long term. Maybe they don’t trade Harden because ownership doesn’t have to worry about paying three stars and Harden is a better running buddy for KD than Westbrook?
Perhaps Westbrook is a rich man’s Stephon Marbury in Minnesota and drags them to 45-wins every year, while getting shellacked in the first round routinely. Russ paired with Big Al is probably a better learning the ropes period for Russ as he’s allowed to toile away with little expectations he’ll often exceed. More fruitful than the Kevin Love era.
Speaking of Kevin Love, how does he fit into D’Antoni’s seven-seconds or less system? Not at all. D’Antoni never had someone like Love before be the vocal point of the offense. Love and Stoudimire aren’t the same by any stretch, beyond the fact they share a position.
Long story short, Knicks probably trade him like they did Gallo to Denver for Carmelo in ‘11.
Perhaps Gallo is a better partner than Blake Griffin for Chris Paul? I mean… the entire construction of Lob City was a logistical nightmare. Even before the Pace ‘N Space era, how is one to achieve working space with an old school close to the basket frontcourt?
George Hill was probably the most ready NBA player in the draft. The most ideal point guard to play alongside LeBron. He doesn’t need the ball. Can camp out in the corner and make spot-up shots. Hill on those ‘09 and 2010 Cavs teams maybe sneak into the finals. Those teams weren’t missing a star. Just another role-player. A modest upgrade from Delonte West.
Lastly, how many rings does Rose-Wade-Bron-Bosh win together? Over/Under is five. LeBron probably stays a little longer. And don’t tell me it couldn’t have happened. Rose was on his rookie deal when Bron skipped town to South Beach.
Pat Riley’s greatest mistake upon getting screwed was adhering to the big board for his second pick, rather than entertaining Westbrook, Gallo or Love.