Following the Bouncing Balls

Follow the Bouncing Balls

Some Notes for Next Tuesday Night's NBA Lottery in Chicago

by Joe Gabriele (@CavsJoeG)
5/10/22 | Cavs.com

Let’s just be honest …

For Cavalier fans, this year’s NBA Lottery won’t be nearly as exciting as last year’s Lottery.

The reason? Last year’s Lottery.

About 11 months ago, in the league office in Secaucus, New Jersey, the Pistons jumped up one slot to win the 2021 Lottery, followed by Houston and the Cavaliers – giving Cleveland its highest pick since winning the whole thing (for the second straight season) back in 2014.

That season, the Wine & Gold tabbed Kansas forward Andrew Wiggins – who was with the team through Summer League before being packaged with the previous season’s top pick, Anthony Bennett, and shipped to Minnesota in exchange for All-Star forward Kevin Love. The rest, as they say, is history.

Last July, the Cavaliers selected what turned out to be a transformational big man in Evan Mobley at No 3.

The soft-spoken seven-footer from USC hit the ground running as a rookie, allowing J.B. Bickerstaff to introduce his jumbo lineup while starring on both ends of the floor and showing almost no weaknesses to his game.

All the 20-year-old did in his first year was lead his freshman class in field goal percentage (.508) and double-doubles (20), along with blocks (1.63), rebounds (8.3) and blocks (1.63) per game, swatting 115 shots while joining Utah’s Rudy Gobert as the only players in the league to average at least 14.0 points, 8.0 boards, 1.5 blocks while shooting better than 50 percent from the floor.

The Cavaliers would be overjoyed to get the No. 3 overall pick this year, and it would take some Rich Strike vibes to get there next Tuesday night. But even if they sit right where they are at No. 14, the Cavs can still grab a solid contributor – or something more. Over the past decade, some No. 14 overall picks include Michael Porter Jr., Bam Adebayo and T.J. Warren.

This year, the Draft Lottery will be held in Chicago and, as always, the actual drawing will take place in a separate room before the ESPN broadcast, with a representative from the accounting firm Ernst & Young making sure everything’s on the up-and-up.

Fourteen ping-pong balls numbered 1 through 14 are placed in a lottery machine and there are 1,001 possible combinations when four balls are drawn out of 14, without regard to their order of selection. Before the Lottery, 1,000 of those 1,001 combinations will be assigned to the 14 participating lottery teams.

Cleveland – the only franchise besides Orlando to have won the Lottery in consecutive seasons – has a 97.6 percent chance of staying at No. 14 when the Lottery rolls around next Tuesday night, May 17.

In the meantime, here’s a few things to keep in mind for when for that time comes – with the NBA Draft just over the horizon …

Nick Gilbert's Lottery night luck changed the course of the Cavaliers franchise back in 2011.
Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE Getty Images

Freshman Class -- After Detroit won last year’s Lottery, it wasn’t a Shaq-LeBron-Tim Duncan sure thing that Cade Cunningham would be the top overall pick. But the group got whittled down to win-place-show quickly, and the top three picks were as expected. If the Pistons, Rockets and Cavs could do it all over again, they’d probably go the same way. (Cleveland, for certain.)

The top odds in the 2022 Lottery, with each team having a 14 percent chance of winning, belong to Houston, Detroit and Orlando.

Once again this year, there’s no consensus on the top overall pick. And at this point, with the NBA’s Draft Combine slated for May 16-22 in Chicago along with individual workouts and interview along the way, the top 10 is still a jumble.

But that doesn’t mean mock drafts haven’t been heating up, and most of the names rising to the top are familiar for college hoops fans, and include Jaden Ivey (Purdue), Paolo Banchero (Duke), Jabari Smith Jr. (Auburn), Chet Holmgren (Gonzaga), Johnny Davis (Wisconsin), Keegan Murray (Iowa) and Malaki Branham (Ohio State).

So, You're Saying …? -- We know crazy things can happen on Lottery night. The Cavaliers (using the Clippers pick) had a 2.8 percent chance off winning back in 2011 – with Nick Gilbert famously taking center stage as Cleveland eventually selecting the first piece (Kyrie Irving) that led to the 2016 World Championship.

The greatest overall Lottery upset belongs to Orlando in 1993, winning with a 1.5 percent chance one season after landing Shaquille O’Neal. The second largest upset came a decade-and-a-half later, when the Chicago Bulls won the top pick in 2008 – used to select Derek Rose – with just a 1.8 percent chance.

The Cavaliers have a 0.5 percent chance of winning the 2022 Lottery.

(Insert Jim Carrey “Dumb and Dumber” quote …)

Troubled Teens -- Bearing in mind that crazy things do happen in the Lottery, if the Cavaliers remain in the No. 14 spot, it would actually make some of history. Of the myriad draft picks the Wine & Gold have had in over a half-century of existence, they’ve never made one at No. 14 overall.

In fact, the Cavaliers have only picked in the teens once in the past decade, selecting Russian swingman Sergey Karasev at No. 19 in 2003. Before that, also at No. 19, was forward J.J. Hickson back in 2008.