How many times have we seen this before: teams tanking the season in order to secure the number one pick in the draft? Unfortunately for the Charlotte Bobcats, securing the number one pick takes more than having the worst record in the league.
Unlike the NFL which automatically rewards the worst team with the first pick in the draft, the NBA has a lottery system that decides where the worst teams in the league get drafted. And although most people think the system is rigged, the one thing that has been consistent about the lottery system is that the worst team usually does not get the first pick.
The league installed the lottery system back in 1985 and since that draft the number one pick went to the worst team only four times.
That number could have been a little higher but the league didn’t allow the Vancouver Grizzlies and Toronto Raptors to win the number one selection during their first three years in the league which caused the Raptors to pick second in 1996 and the Grizzlies to pick second in 1998.
Once those teams entered their fourth year in 1999 all bets were off. So how has the lottery shaped up since then?
Well of the 13 years starting from 1999 to last year’s draft, the fifth-worst team has won the top selection the most. The fifth-worst team landed the first selection three times during this period. After that the worst team, second-worst team and third-worst team all won the number one pick twice each.
So the Charlotte Bobcats would probably have a better chance of securing the number one overall selection if they were either the fifth-worst team or if they could grab some of the luck that the Los Angeles Clippers, Chicago Bulls and Washington Wizards have.
The Bulls won the first pick twice over the past 13 seasons despite being only the third-worst and ninth-worst team in the two seasons they won it. The Wizards were the third-worst and the fifth-worst in their two seasons.
The Clippers have only won it once since 1999 but the pick they sent to the Cleveland Cavaliers last season ended up being the number one pick and Cleveland’s second number one selection since the ’99 draft.
The Bobcats will remain hopeful though that they will receive the draft’s top pick so they can bring in a franchise cornerstone like Kentucky’s Anthony Davis but if not then they can rest easily knowing that this will probably be one of the deepest drafts in recent history.
A lot of guys who would have come out as freshmen last season stayed put last year due to the impending lockout making this draft a lot deeper than it would have been. Even if the Bobcats drop as low as the fourth pick they may still have a chance to draft a really good player.
Only time will tell if tanking this season for a potential franchise player was worth getting rid of all of their best players over the past two years. The Bobcats traded away Gerald Wallace and Stephen Jackson,refused to resign Raymond Felton and just recently released Boris Diaw in order to cut payroll and “start over from scratch” as they would call it.
It’s a gamble putting the hopes of their franchise on a few bouncing lottery balls but it’s a gamble the Charlotte Bobcats feel they are willing to make in order to shape this franchise into a winner. We’ll see what the balls have in store for them come draft time.
Roosevelt Hall is an NFL Blogger for The Sport Mentalist and an NBA Blogger for The Sport Mentalist 2. He is also a Sports Reporter for Pro Sports Lives. He can be contacted at RHall_TPFB@Yahoo.com and be sure to follow him on Twitter @sportmentalist. Also check out these stories:
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