Tuesday , May , 20 , 2008 Christopher Sells

Draft Lottery 2008

Draft Lottery 2008

This is a special feature from guest blogger Christopher Sells.

If your team wasn’t good enough or lucky enough (read: in the Eastern Conference) to make the playoffs, today is the day that you get to feel like you’re included in the postseason. Before the Eastern Conference Finals tip off, the 14 non-playoff franchises will shed every ounce of dignity they have in the hope that they are lucky enough to get the first pick in next month’s NBA Draft.

Instead of rewarding its teams that are either downright terrible or that purposely tanked with the highest spots at the Draft, the NBA devised the Lottery in 1985. While the rules have changed since that time, the premise has been that a team could not guarantee itself a shot at some coveted incoming rookie by sucking the entire season.

As it stands now, the team with the worst record (the Miami Heat this year) has the best chance at getting the number one pick, at 25%. The team with the best non-playoff record (Golden State) has a .5% chance at the top pick. The odds for the remaining teams fall somewhere in between. The drawing is only held for the top three spots, so the lowest that the worst team can draft is fourth, the second worst team fifth, and so on. 

With the Draft position being determined, allegedly and at least partially, by chance, teams have taken to different methods, strategies and superstitions in an effort to get the coveted top pick. Some are subtle, some are ridiculous. Tonight, you can expect to see Jay-Z repping for the Nets (I assume there will be no Dynasty sign), Dwyane Wade for the Heat (there is no truth to the rumor that he’s bringing Star Jones with him), the Sonics will send Rookie of the Year Kevin Durant, the Kings will send a lucky season ticket holder who won a contest for the right to attend, and the Timberwolves will send Fred Hoiberg with a stuffed good luck bear adorned in Wolves’ gear.

In case you’re wondering, the Lottery is performed behind closed doors, with no TV cameras allowed. Representatives for each team, different from the ones who will be on stage as the envelopes are opened, I presume, are present along with NBA officials and some independent auditors as the process unfolds. It’s just complicated enough to be confusing enough to inspire conspiracy theories. 

In case you were wondering, the teams with the worst and second-worst record has received the top pick only three times each since 1990. The third and fifth worst teams have received the top pick four times each.

It could be great fun if one of the two teams in the lottery who finished at or above .500 were to land in the top three picks. Maybe then the Lottery process could be revisited or the playoff process altered. Chances are slim though. I guess I’ll have to break out some sort of good luck charm if I seriously hope for this to take place.

Where did I put my lucky underwear?