The Discreet Charms of the NBA Lottery

The league's annual draft lottery takes place tonight. Here's how each team will attempt to find good luck.
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As sung by Al "Blind Lemon" Jefferson

The NBA Draft Lottery will be held tonight in Newark, with each team hoping to get lucky and nab the top pick in this year's draft (and presumably potential franchise-changer Anthony Davis). As the lottery has evolved from a basic way to assign draft picks to a drama-filled show, the figures that attend the lottery as franchise representatives have responded by bringing (and superficially believing in) special good luck charms. Much like in Kung Fu Panda, they must buy into the idea of the talisman even if they know in their hearts that it's all a bunch of bullshit.

We were lucky enough to obtain a top-secret list of each franchise's good luck charm for the event. Enjoy, and consider how each might alter the outcome.

Charlotte Bobcats (25 percent chance at top pick): William Wesley. Few behind-the-scenes businessmen have as much power as World Wide Wes, who counts Bobcats owner Michael Jordan and Kentucky coach John Calipari among his closest allies. Therefore, the franchise is only several very slight degrees away from already owning the rights to Anthony Davis. There is no better way to convince the rest of the field that they have no chance than by having lottery rep and general manager Rich Cho point at Wes and say they have luck on their side. Everyone will assume a fix is in, and David Stern will simply play along in the interest of superior narrative.

Washington Wizards (19.9 percent): A copy of John Roberts's concurring opinion in Citizens United. For several seasons, the Wizards have been the NBA's problem children, an ineffective group of idiots whose own failures compounded each other to create a uniquely terrible team. A lottery win would effectively be a case of the Wizards being rewarded for years of inept management. By bringing Roberts's opinion, they will embrace the idea that an exaggerated technicality can overwhelm merit.

New Orleans Hornets (two picks totaling 14.8 percent): A Kangol hat belonging to David Simon. Few public figures rep for New Orleans as much as Simon, the creator of the quite great HBO series Treme and insufferable agitator. The Simon Kangol announces that the Hornets will not go quietly, and that not earning a quality pick will be less a referendum on their own worth than a sign of the systemic rot that consumes the league.

Cleveland Cavaliers (13.8 percent): The opening credits to Trouble Every Day. All NBA fans know that Cavs owner Dan Gilbert likes to use the font Comic Sans, a very stupid typeface best fit for clown advertisements and party stores. However, the credits to this brutal Claire Denis vampire film prove that Comic Sans can serve as herald of horror and shock. In other words, the Cavs could still return to the same level of fearsomeness they displayed during LeBron James's best seasons with the club.

Portland Trail Blazers (two picks totaling 8.3 percent): Paul Allen's guitar. At a Cannes party last week, Blazers owner Paul Allen performed "Purple Rain" and other guitar-driven with his band. According to reports, they were quite good and wowed a crowd that included Jeremy Irons and Ray Liotta. If those tough guys couldn't handle Allen's majestic shredding, then certainly a few dudes in suits buttoned up to their necks won't be able to deal, either.

Sacramento Kings (7.6 percent): A VHS rental copy of The Car. The Kings have decided to send co-owner Adrienne Maloof as their lottery rep, a woman best known in public for her starring role on Bravo's The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills. Her costars, on that series, Kim and Kyle Richards, were child actors who starred together in the horror film The Car, among other projects. If the Maloofs are doubling down on this direction, then they might as well go all out.

Golden State Warriors (3.6 percent): One of the knockoff Bay Area-themed Obama shirts for sale on the BART walkway at the Oakland Coliseum. The Warriors have announced plans to move to San Francisco by 2017. In the process, they've alienated much of their devoted East Bay fan base by doing little to appreciate what makes their Oakland crowds unique in the NBA. The only way they can save face and regain some good mojo is by promoting the least San Francisco items associated with their Oakland home games.

Toronto Raptors (3.5 percent): A letter of encouragement from the moose president of Canada. I think this one is self-explanatory.

Detroit Pistons (1.7 percent): A team roster to be read aloud. This charm won’t bring good luck, but it will allow representative Brandon Knight to talk about his team in front of a national audience that has probably only heard of one or two of them.

Milwaukee Bucks (0.7 percent): Jon Brockman in his adult onesie. Again, not a literal charm, but the kind of thing that’s so creepy that it can distract all in attendance and allow a Bucks agent to sneak into the lottery room and weight their ping pong balls.

Phoenix Suns (0.6 percent): A designer handbag. In the midst of the lockout, Suns owner Robert Sarver claimed that his wife had told him to bring her back the collective bargaining agreement’s mid-level exception in an expensive bag. If Sarver wants to win the favor of the basketball gods, he can broadcast his dire financial straits by displaying a fancy bag to remind everyone of the increased ticket and merchandise sales that go along with a top pick.

Houston Rockets (0.5 percent): A chart of the various lottery participants’ odds at nabbing the first pick. For Daryl Morey, the lottery is less about luck than a random distribution of draft picks based on probabilities. No matter, the outcome, he can look at his sheet and tell himself that there was literally this specific a chance of any particular result. These facts will help him cope with getting the 14th pick for the third consecutive season.


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