I don’t usually get excited about the NBA Draft Lottery. But I have to admit, I’ll be watching tomorrow. And not to see who gets Oden or Durant. Although, they are two of the best prospects the draft has seen in years.
Instead I’ll be tuning in to root against Danny Ainge and the Celtics getting one of the first two picks. Not only would it be sweet justice for a team who tanked their way through the season, the look on the Celtics’ representative at the draft (and please, please, please let it be Ainge) would be priceless. I picture a scene similar to the old Simpsons’ episode where Lisa tells Ralph she doesn’t like him on TV during a Krusty anniversary show. Ralph’s face instantly turns to horror - and like Bart, I will rewind and replay in slow motion over and over again if the Celtics get anything but the first two picks in the draft.
Look, I don’t have anything against the Celtics or their fans (well I am tired of Bill Simons whining about how they “have to get one of the first two picks” and that damn book he’s been peddling on his site for 2+ years). In fact I feel badly for their fans that they’ve had to endure poor decisions by Ainge and a pretty lousy product for years now. What I do have a problem with is rewarding a team for bad decisions and worse, in the case of the 2006-07 season, throwing games. Of course, Doc Rivers didn’t tell his players to let the other team score or miss shots on purpose. No, the Celtics decided to keep their best players on the bench during key parts (usually the second half) of games and not even play their key guys due to “injury.”
The most egregious part of this is that the Boston fans have paid good money to come to the games only to see their team try to lose. And for this, the NBA awards them with one of the best chances at getting Oden and Durant. It’s a welfare system for pro-sports. So let me make sure I get this right – your organization has made bad trades and poor free agent signings…. Last year you drafted and traded a prospect with a bright future for Sebastian Telfair and a firearm to be named later…. You screwed your fan base by making them pay full price for tickets to see games you had no intention of winning… Yes, yes, for that we (the NBA) will give you the second best chance in the league for this year’s top pick. Nice job, you’ve earned it.
That work ethic and poor results wouldn’t even fly in France (that goes out to our one French reader). I’ve read many different alternatives the NBA could adopt for their draft: Throw all the teams in and have a truly random drawing, split the season into halves and have some type of ratio that you are awarded more points for wins in the second half of the year to prevent tanking, adopting an English Premier League system of sending the bottom teams each year to the minor leagues (in this case the NBDL). But I propose one that could make teams try to win and prevent tanking – the bottom line.
Here’s how it could work. Lottery teams are chosen by attendance levels. Or I should say lack of attendance. Teams averaging the lowest attendance (it would have to be a ratio of their total seating capacity) would be placed into a lottery drawing. Owners would have to really pay if they wanted to tank because a bad product on the floor would lead to lower attendance levels. And maybe it’s a ratio that is compared to last year’s attendance. I don’t know. What I do know is this – you tie a financial figure to all of this and you’ll see owners less likely to let incompetent GMs screw the team and the fans, but more importantly to them, lose out on more money in their pocket, in order to get a better chance at a top prospect.
So tomorrow, please join me in wishing Danny Ainge and the Celtics the worst of luck. Danny, here’s to the number 13, black cats, broken mirrors, and walking under ladders.
And in case you were curious about the odds for the Celtics tomorrow, here they are with the percentage chance of receiving their spot in the top 5:
1st pick: 19.9%
2nd pick: 18.8%
3rd pick: 17.1%
4th pick: 31.9%
5th pick: 12.4%