With the first pick In the 2012 NBA draft the Detroit Pistons select, Anthony Davis, center from the University of Kentucky. We all breath a sigh of relief that Joe Dumars wasn’t able to draft another Tayshaun Prince clone with the lower pick the pistons should have gotten. Then we go to Detroit Sports 360.com to have a fun little computer app draw a unibrow on an uploaded photo of ourselves to post on our facebook pages. It’s a beautiful dream, but you wake up into a draft lottery nightmare, in all probability.
The Detroit Pistons only have 17 of the 1000 lottery number combinations that will be in play next Wednesday during the NBA’s annual circus of secrecy, the draft lottery. That means they will only have a 1.7 percent chance of getting the number one pick, and with it the ridiculously talented Anthony Davis. Their chances of getting a top 3 selection are a little less than 6 percent. Another interesting number, 18, that’s how many times I had to play ESPN insider Chad Ford’s NBA draft lottery machine for the Detroit Pistons to get the number one pick. Although that was only today, last week it took over an hour and 127 tries. Next Wednesday it will be a different story, the Pistons will only get one run through to win the top slot, and that gauntlet will be run off camera.
It works a lot like any other lottery. Lets say each team gets a lottery ticket with a certain number of easy picks on it. The number of easy picks on the ticket depends on where the team finished the season. The Charlotte Bobcats this year get a lottery ticket with 250 easy picks. The Pistons’ card will only have 17. To determine a winner, 14 numbered ping pong balls are put in a lottery drum. Four numbers are drawn and the team with those numbers on their ticket, in an order, wins the number one pick. The balls are then reloaded and the numbers are redrawn until another team wins, they get pick number 2. They do it all one more time in order to determine the 3rd pick. The repetition of the same team winning over and over while they try to get the 2nd and 3rd picks is the reason the lottery isn’t held live.
The NBA is missing out on what could be a great show. They could get the same results, with the same odds, on a live stage with all the drama and intrigue of American Idle. It would take three lottery drums, 3 sets of 1000 numbered balls, and some glitzy production value. A smoking hot celebrity presenter could draw the balls while a multimedia frenzy builds the suspense. It would be a small thing for them to load the next set of balls into the next machine. While the grip crew is doing that, ESPN could interview the winning team and show us a feel good video package. Best of all you wouldn’t need an advanced degree in differential calculus to understand how the whole process works. Still, I guess we would all miss the idea that somewhere behind closed doors someone is grabbing a frozen envelope.
The Pistons outlook to win the number one pick looks pretty grim in the face of all the statistical evidence, but buck up, there is hope. Last year the Cleveland Cavaliers got the first pick, but the Las Angeles Clippers actually won the lottery from the number 8 spot, a 2.8 percent chance, and had to give up the pick to Cleveland in a trade. In 2010 the Wizards won the lottery from the 5th position. The Bulls won it in 2008 with the 9th worst record in the NBA. In fact, the last time a team with the worst record in the NBA won the lottery was 2004, the Orlando Magic, and they selected Dwight Howard. It’s alright to have hope, and the lower seeds have been enjoying success in recent years, but I’m not cutting a unibrow out of my ‘fear the fro’ wig just yet.