By Matthew Curtis | Enzian Theater May 23, 2007 at 9:42AM
Ha! See, the way the NBA draft lottery works is that all of the teams that miss the playoffs find out what order they will be picking in for the upcoming draft of prospects out of college and overseas. The crappier your record, the more ping-pong balls with your name on it go into the hopper. This is the flawed system that the NBA utilizes to help restore the balance of power in the game, so that the bad teams can get a superior player and improve themselves. But (and it's a big but) even the worst team still only has a 25% chance of getting the first pick, and since they started this system 20-something years ago, more often than not the balls never come up in the order you'd expect based on percentages.
So what happens last night? The two worst teams in the NBA this year, Memphis and Boston, both of which curiously didn't suit up some of their best players down the stretch (can you say "tank?"), were salivating at the chance to pick first or second and get a potential franchise player/superstar in Ohio State's Greg Oden or Texas' Kevin Durant. Call it luck of the draw (or perhaps the long arm of Commissioner David Stern pulling strings to discourage teams from tanking games), but the Portland Trailblazers (with only a 5% chance of winning) will have the No. 1 pick and the Seattle Supersonics will pick 2nd, with the Atlanta Hawks continuing the surprises by coming in 3rd. This means the Grizzlies will pick 4th and the Celtics will pick 5th--sweet! So much for the lottery favorites. And Portland, who had the worst record two years ago but didn't get to pick first, gets their turn in the sun. Maybe the system's not so bad after all...
How's that taste Celtic fans? Can you tell I no longer have any animosity toward the team that kicked the Knicks' asses the whole time I lived in NYC during the 1980s?