Going into this lottery I did the lottery simulator on ESPN.com ten times. The Boston Celtics got the first overall pick three times, and were in the top three picks in five of them.
So I was feeling pretty fucking good going into tonight. Then this happened:
What a joke. Third time in four years they’ve gotten the number one pick since Lebron James left. Even Tim Donaghy thinks the lottery is rigged. Here were the draft odds going into tonight:
Yea, so Cleveland had a 1.7% chance of getting that pick, so of course they got it. I mean, Primrose Everdeen had a better chance at being picked than they did…
Too bad the Celtics can’t volunteer for tribute.
Here’s how the rest of the draft worked out:
1. Cleveland Cavaliers
2. Milwaukee Bucks
3. Philadelphia 76ers
4. Orlando Magic
5. Utah Jazz
6. Boston Celtics
7. Los Angeles Lakers
8. Sacramento Kings
9. Charlotte Hornets
10. Philadelphia 76ers
11. Denver Nuggets
12. Orlando Magic
13. Minnesota Timberwolves
14. Phoenix Suns
Obviously the NBA rigged this. Everyone knows that. Cleveland’s chances (1.7%) make them the biggest long shot to win the lottery that no one saw since the NBA expanded in 1995. The odds of the Cavaliers winning 2011, 2013, and 2014 lotteries: 13,467-to-1.
They even gave Milwaukee and Philadelphia the 2nd and 3rd picks for their masterful tanking jobs. The Sixers lost 26 games in a row this year, traded two of their best players (Evan Turner, Spencer Hawes) for a pack of sour starburst, purposely missed three dunks in one game against Milwaukee, and were still rewarded for it. I mean, the NBA couldn’t even make it more obvious that the fix was in. Not only did they give the Cavs the top pick, they even tried to cover up the fix by giving Milwaukee and Philadelphia the second and third picks. Because if three long shots got the top 3 picks that would just be TOO obvious.
The question is, why did they pick Cleveland? I assume it’s because they felt bad about last year. After all, last year’s draft was historically bad. Everyone sucked. There wasn’t a single player that was a sure thing, so they took free-loading Canadian Anthony Bennett. In hindsight he makes Michael Olowokandi look like a great pick. On the other hand, maybe it was just a general feeling of pity for what is quite possibly the most depressing post-industrial city in America outside of Buffalo.
Here’s how the draft works:
To determine the winner, fourteen ping pong balls numbered 1–14 are placed in a standard lottery machine and four balls are randomly selected from the lot. Just as in most traditional lotteries, the order in which the numbers are drawn is not important. That is, 1-2-3-4 is considered to be the same as 4-3-2-1. So although there is a total of 24 (4!) orders in which the balls numbered 1-2-3-4 can be picked, they are all treated as the same outcome. In doing this, the permutation of 4 balls from 14 becomes the combination of 4 balls from 14. That is, the total of 24,024 (14! / 10!, or 14x13x12x11) possible permutations is reduced by a factor of 24, to 1,001 combinations (or 14! / (10! x 4!)). Of these, 1 outcome is disregarded and 1,000 outcomes are distributed among the 14 non-playoff NBA teams. The combination 11-12-13-14 (in any order that those numbers are drawn) is not assigned and it is ignored if drawn; this has never occurred in practice.
Unless you are a statistics major, this might as well be in Chinese. So, why don’t they show us the actual lottery? I’ve done some research into this, and I just can’t find out how they cheat. They have representatives from each team in the back room who oversee the ping pong balls being picked. I have a hard time believing that the NBA is trying to pull a fast one on a bunch of savvy billionaires. But unless I can see it happening with my own eyes, I simply won’t believe it’s on the up and up.
My conspiracy theory is pretty simple. A LeBron-Cleveland rivalry would be awesome for the NBA. So would a LeBron return to Cleveland. Obviously LeBron is a front running fraud, so going back to Cleveland is a definite possibility now. I’m watching the Indiana-Miami game right now and LeBron has played like shit ever since the announcement was made. And don’t fool yourself Cavs fans, you would welcome him back with open arms like nothing ever happened.
Either way, the Celtics deserved better. They tanked, but they did it the right way. They lost all those games because they weren’t good enough. They stayed close with teams game after game only to lose in the closing minutes because Jeff Green isn’t a real NBA star. And in the final minutes of games you need a closer, and the Celtics don’t have one. Brad Stevens got this team, which had nothing to play for, to play with heart and determination. They deserved better than this.
The question now is, can the Celtics still get Kevin Love with the #6 pick? The answer is, of course they can. Minnesota isn’t going to get him back after next season. They kind of have no choice but to trade him. The Celtics have an arsenal of draft picks at their disposal and will have enough cap space to sign him. Love knows that and he wants to come here. It’s going to happen, and this changes absolutely nothing.
Feel free to share your thoughts to keep the conversation going.