Cohen: If There Were No Draft Lottery....
April 11, 2013
Josh Cohen’s Analysis: The NBA’s Draft Lottery system that determines draft order makes it pretty much impossible to predict whom the top prospects will start their careers with. But imagine if there was no draft lottery and draft order was decided based on record and nothing else – like the NFL’s method. Well, just about everything would be different in the NBA and some of the best No. 1 and No. 2 draft picks over the last 20 years would be on different teams. CLICK NEXT for some analysis.
Cohen’s Analysis: We know Shaq decided to bolt Orlando for Hollywood in 1996, but until then he was the cornerstone of the Magic after getting drafted first overall four years earlier. He, along with Penny Hardaway, catapulted the Magic to the NBA Finals in 1995 and was a larger-than-life figure in Central Florida. If there were no draft lottery system, O’Neal would have started his career with….CLICK NEXT
Cohen’s Analysis: The Minnesota Timberwolves had the worst record in the NBA in the 1991-92 season. They ended up with the third overall pick and selected Christian Laettner, who never quite lived up to those lofty expectations after his glory days at Duke. We would have a completely different perspective of the Wolves if Shaq were breaking backboards in Minnesota in the early to mid 90’s.
Cohen’s Analysis: It all went to plan when the Cleveland Cavaliers got the No. 1 pick in 2003 and chose the hometown star, LeBron James. While LeBron is certainly the best player from his draft class, as we discovered, others like Carmelo Anthony and Dwyane Wade are future Hall of Famers as well. There were two teams with identical records at the bottom of the standings and an equal chance of getting the No. 1 pick, Cleveland and…..CLICK NEXT
Cohen’s Analysis: Both Cleveland and Denver each had a 22.5 percent chance of securing the No. 1 pick in 2003. The Cavs won the sweepstakes, while the Nuggets slipped down to No. 3. Since Detroit, which chose second, opted for Darko Milicic, Denver didn’t suffer too much by landing Carmelo Anthony. It’s somewhat satirical that LeBron and Melo eventually deserted their original teams.
Cohen’s Analysis: If not for an unexpected injury to David Robinson in late 1996, it’s likely that the Spurs would have zero championships rather than four. The absence of the Admiral allowed San Antonio to have an opportunity to secure the prize of the 1997 NBA Draft, Tim Duncan. More than 15 years later, Duncan is widely considered the greatest power forward of all-time. If there were no draft lottery system, Duncan would have started his career with….CLICK NEXT
Cohen’s Analysis: The Boston Celtics had the best chance of landing the No. 1 pick in 1997 since the Vancouver Grizzlies, who actually had the worst record, was ineligible for the top pick because of expansion rules. Boston had two lottery picks that year and settled for Chauncey Billups (No. 3) and Ron Mercer (No. 6). Even though the C's won a title in 2008, there still must be some frustration in Beantown stemming from the 1997 NBA Draft Lottery.
Cohen’s Analysis: Kevin Durant is the darling of the small market – for now anyway. Ever since drafting KD second overall in the 2007 NBA Draft, OKC – then Seattle – has gradually evolved into one of the best teams in the league. The Thunder, however, got lucky in the lottery. They had just a 9.7 percent chance of grabbing the No. 2 pick, which proved to be the prized slot with Greg Oden’s demise. But without a draft lottery, Durant would likely have ended up in a big market with a ton of hoops tradition. Which city is that? CLICK NEXT
Cohen’s Analysis: Some forget just how much of a calamity the 2006-07 season was for the Celtics. Fortunately for Boston, Danny Ainge’s crafty front office work spawned a championship team. But before acquiring Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen, injuries and inexperience plummeted the C’s to the bottom of the East. If record determined draft order, it would have been the C’s grooming Durant. Yet interestingly, the addition of KD would have likely deterred Boston from forming its Big Three.
Cohen’s Analysis: Rewind the clock to last year and some people were arguing that Derrick Rose was the best player in the NBA. Remember, he was the league’s MVP in 2010-11 and guided the Bulls to the best record in back-to-back seasons. The Bulls conquered overwhelming odds to win the top pick when the unanimous best prospect was a Chicago born and raised luminary. Who would have gotten Rose if a lottery didn’t exist? CLICK NEXT
Cohen’s Analysis: There probably would be no LeBron James in Miami if a draft lottery didn’t exist in 2008. The Heat had the league’s worst record, but settled for the No. 2 pick and one of the more notable busts in the last decade, Michael Beasley. All ultimately panned out for the Heat when they united Dwyane Wade with LeBron and Chris Bosh. But a Wade-Rose backcourt would have been rather interesting too.
Cohen’s Analysis: Blake Griffin, along with Chris Paul, has changed the culture in Clipperland. For years, the “other” L.A. team was laughed at and ridiculed constantly. But Blake’s electrifying athleticism and expanding offensive repertoire has helped make the Clippers a legit title contender. But it wouldn’t have been Lob City in Los Angeles without a draft lottery. Where would that label reside? CLICK NEXT
Cohen’s Analysis: Instead of talking about where the Kings will be playing next year, Sacramento or Seattle, right now we would be in awe of Griffin’s high flying spectacle in northern California. The Kings owned the league’s worst record in 2008-09, but slid down to No. 4 in the lottery. They did end up with the eventual Rookie of the Year that season, Tyreke Evans, but he sure is no Blake.
Cohen’s Analysis: It was a huge relief for the Cavaliers organization after landing the No. 1 pick and snagging Kyrie Irving in 2011. Remember, just one year prior, LeBron James bolted for South Beach and it appeared everything was crumbling in Cleveland. But now, the future is bright again for the Cavs and Irving may ultimately transform into a top five talent in the NBA. But without a draft lottery, Cleveland wouldn’t be so fortunate. Who would? CLICK NEXT
Cohen’s Analysis: Sure, they had drafted Ricky Rubio a couple years prior but he had not started his NBA career yet. With Irving on the board, one would assume that perhaps the Timberwolves would have traded Rubio and instead chose to rebuild with a far more superior point guard. Despite having the best chance of getting the No. 1 pick twice in franchise history, Minnesota has struck out both times.
Cohen’s Analysis: Greg Oden was supposed to be the next Bill Russell, but serious knee problems immediately derailed and crushed his career. The city of Portland celebrated its 2007 NBA Draft Lottery victory. But not before long, regret for taking Oden over Kevin Durant consumed Blazer nation. Reality is, whoever won that lottery was picking Oden over Durant. If there were no draft lottery, Oden would have been the disaster of….CLICK NEXT
Cohen’s Analysis: Initially devastated, now remarkably relieved. The Memphis Grizzlies had the league’s worst record in 2006-07 and fans in that region were chanting “We Want Oden” late that year. Not only did the Grizzlies not get the No. 1 pick, they fell all the way down to No. 4. Somewhat fascinating, Memphis picked Oden’s childhood friend and teammate, Mike Conley. Whew for Memphis! Then again, who knows; maybe Oden's career would have been revitalized somewhere other than Portland.