May 22nd, the day is here. And we'll be right here at Blazersedge providing live coverage of the lottery drawing for those of you who can't get to a TV or who want to talk about it as it happens. The comment section of the top thread will be open and available to you and I'll be chatting too. The public announcement of the lottery results will be broadcast on ESPN starting at 5:30 Pacific time.
Here's a handy rundown of how it's going to go for those who want a brush-up or who may not have experienced the lottery before. If you don't need the info, skip down to the My Thoughts section below.
There are 1001 ping-pong ball combinations divided amongst 14 teams. The percentages are divided as follows:
- Memphis 25%
- Boston 19.9%
- Milwaukee 15.6%
- Phoenix (from Atlanta)* 11.9%
- Seattle 8.8%
- Portland 5.3%
- Minnesota 5.3%
- Charlotte 1.9%
- Chicago (from New York) 1.9%
- Sacramento 1.8%
- Atlanta (from Indiana)* 0.8%
- Philadelphia 0.7%
- New Orleans 0.6%
- L.A. Clippers 0.5%
The actual drawing will be held prior to the public revealing. Team representatives will witness the drawing but will be sworn to secrecy until the broadcast. (These will not necessarily be the same representatives you see on ESPN, who in many instances are public relations showcases.)
The four-ball combinations will be drawn much like the state lottery systems we're all familiar with. Combinations are pre-assigned to each team. (Memphis has 250 of them and on down the line to the Clippers who have only 5. Portland has 53.) The first drawing will be for the first pick in the draft. Once the first pick is determined that team's combinations are dead and the second position is drawn for in similar fashion and then the third. Once the top three picks are determined teams are re-seeded from 4th to 14th based on the order of finish in the regular season, the worst team not selected for the top three getting the fourth pick and so on down the line. If Chicago gets the first pick, for instance, slide them out of the 9th position in the list above, put them up at #1, and slide everyone who was ahead of them down one slot accordingly. Rinse and repeat for the drawings for second and third.
If the broadcast follows form from past years the teams' showcase representatives will be seated at podiums in order from fourteenth through first. The host will introduce each representative and make small talk with a couple of them, asking what the first pick would mean to the franchise. The Lakers aren't there this year so your guess is as good as mine which reps they will chat with. My money's on the Celtics, Bulls, and Grizzlies. They might ask Brandon something about his Rookie of the Year campaign.
Once the introductory crapola is finished they'll begin revealing the draft order, starting with the #14 spot and heading to #1. They'll take a commercial break right around spot 4 or 3 to make everybody sick to their stomach. Afterwards they will interview the winner (and likely #2 this year also). If Memphis gets knocked down they might talk with them too.
What to Watch With the Blazers
The way the lottery is constructed Blazers have 7 possible slots to land in. If their combination is pulled on one of the draws they will get position 1, 2, or 3. We won't know which until they are revealed. If their combination is not drawn they will start at position 6 and move down one slot for every team originally behind them in the order that leapfrogged ahead of them via the drawings. If one team currently in the 7-14 positions gets their combination drawn the Blazers would get bumped down one spot to slot 7. If two 7-14 teams get lucky then we'd be bumped to slot 8. If three teams below the Blazers get lucky then we'd be in the 9 slot. If no teams from 7-14 move up it doesn't matter how the teams from 1-5 end up since they were all ahead of the Blazers anyway. As long as they're not leapfrogged the Blazers still draft 6th if the top five end up in their current order, in reverse order, or all mixed up.
We're going to have a reasonable idea where to expect our name before it is actually revealed. The general idea is we want to see the teams from 14 (Clippers) to 7 (Timberwolves) revealed in their exact current order with no names missing. If a name doesn't appear in order (for instance if the list skips from #11 Atlanta to #9 Chicago) that means a team (in this case #10 Sacramento) moved up to the top three. Unless we also moved up that means we'll be bumped down in the order. If you see three names missing below us then it's guaranteed we're in the 9 spot. Prepare for much wailing and gnashing of teeth all over the league if that happens and for the lottery system to be revised for next year. If two names are skipped before us look for us in the 8 spot. One name skipped means the 7th position and if the names before us are read in exact order with no omissions it means we're either #6 or top three.
Obviously the very best thing of all would be for our name to get skipped in the order. If you do not see the Blazers' logo revealed in the expected spot (8, 7, or 6 depending on who else has been skipped) you can begin to dream big. It means we have one of the top three picks.
Obviously I'm as excited as anyone else. The course of a couple of franchises is likely to change today. I can't help but have mixed feelings though. We know what it was like to be the worst team in the league last year and get bumped down to fourth in the draft. That we spun gold out of straw doesn't change the fact that it sucks. If that happens today a couple teams' fans are going to feel that disappointment multiplied a hundredfold. Of course I'll get over it if the Blazers move up but on the off-chance that a team like Chicago, New Orleans, or the Clippers gets lucky (or worse two of them) that's really going to bite for everybody who legitimately needs big-time help. I'm still not entirely convinced it should work this way and I will feel kind of bad for people from Memphis and Boston even if Portland snags a premium pick. Also I can't help but reflect that the NBA star system has contributed to making this kind of thing so important. Ping pong balls probably shouldn't be such a large key to a franchise's success (or shouldn't be perceived to be so key anyway). Of course there will always be a difference between the #1 pick and #5 but this year the gulf even between 2 and 3 looks like the Grand Canyon. Part of that is because those top two players are so talented, but part of it is because we've created a system where a single, celebrated player can get an inordinate amount of attention (T.V. and merchandising) and favorable whistles. In an ideal world--a world where team play was seen as the primary key to success--fans who missed out on the top two picks today would be saying, "That's OK, we can catch them anyway" instead of hanging themselves as seems more likely after all of this buildup. We all know, though, that this isn't just basketball...this is the NBA (with all of the good and bad that implies). I just think on a day like today it's way too obvious.
If the Blazers Can't Win It
If we can't get those top two picks I wouldn't mind seeing legitimately struggling teams like the Bucks, the Hawks, or the Bobcats get them. Yes, I could live with the Celtics and Grizzlies too. I kind of don't want to see Seattle get it just because of that Saturday game we won against them late in the season, although it's worth mentioning that they could have moved up with that same combination even if we had not beaten them that night. That game doesn't necessarily matter but it will feel like it to us if they move up. Phoenix's Atlanta pick is top three protected so that's not an issue but I really, really do not want to see Chicago get it, nor Indiana really. I'm not in the mood to see the rich get richer today.
A Question for You
Talk about the day and its permutations all you want in the comment section, but here's my question: What one team do you not want to see get a top two pick?
Have fun and don't forget to join us here at lottery time!