Friday, May 23, 2014


1.7 is just a number, a very small number, a number nobody really thinks of because it's so small.  When the number is made into a percentage, it is virtually forgotten:  1.7 percent.  That means, every one or two times out of one hundred tries, this thing will happen.  And on Tuesday, May 20, 2014, the odds were forever in the favor of the Cleveland Cavaliers.  Of the twenty-three total NBA lotteries, the worst team has won only three times (the Magic in 2004, Cleveland in 2003, and New Jersey in 1990).  There is no rhyme or reason for a team winning the lottery, but many believe the system is rigged.  Is it?  Should changes be made to the current NBA Draft Lottery?

In the history of the Draft Lottery, there have been several times where many believe the system was not allowed to run its proper course.  The first lottery gave us the New York Knicks winning and selecting Patrick Ewing.  Commissioner David Stern was from New York and it felt fitting that his hometown team should win the lottery to rejuvenate their franchise.  2003 and 2008 are other years to point to when it comes to a rigged lottery system:  LeBron James is from Cleveland and the Cavs won the lottery and the Bulls won (with 1.7 percent odds, as well) to select Chicago native, Derrick Rose.  The NBA is a business and by getting local talent to stay with their childhood teams generates revenue by the local community and sheds positive light on the NBA.

While these stories shed a positive light for the league, the NBA will also receive negativity and is accused of rigging the lottery to benefit themselves.  This year, the Cavs won the lottery for the third time in four years and the second year in a row.  In 2011, the Cavs won with a 2.8 percent chance (even thought it was the Clippers' pick) and then won again in 2013 with 15.6 percent odds.  But this year, it came as a shocker that they were able to get drawn for number one again.  The Bucks, 76ers, and Magic all seemed like a lock to get a top three choice; it just had to be, considering all three had some of the worst seasons in their history, it was all falling into place...until it did not.

With the possibility of LeBron James opting for free agency, the Cavs could be a possible destination for the four-time MVP to finish off his illustrious career and try and win a championship for his city.  The NBA realizes that should James return, the Cavs could have a championship-caliber team immediately.  It is unfortunate to think, but the NBA may have planned for this to occur.  It would make for an incredible story and one that would benefit the city of Cleveland.  But this seems too good to be true; yet, 1.7 percent is still greater than 0.0 percent, right?

In my personal opinion, the NBA Draft Lottery should only consist of the three or five worst teams from that season with percentages benefiting the worst team and not giving each even odds of winning.  It is obvious that a team like the Phoenix Suns were not trying to tank to get a good draft pick; they finished with a record of 48-34 and a game out from making the playoffs.  Why should they be in the lottery?  It should only be for the teams that have a greater chance of "tanking" (Milwaukee, Philly, Orlando, Utah, and Boston this year).

I agree with the implementation of the NBA Draft Lottery:  it prevents teams from losing on purpose and creates a sense of excitement prior to the draft for those teams not in the playoffs.  However, some of the lotteries in years previous have seemed suspect and have a high chance of being rigged.  Having fewer teams in the lottery pool will eliminate teams jumping up many spots to getting the top pick when they may not be deserving.  But at the end of the day, we must not forget that 1.7 is still a number.


Micah Sokolsky is a Pre-Junior Sport Management major at Drexel University with minors in Spanish and Business.  Micah hails from San Francisco, CA and was a participant on Drexel Sport Management’s College Sport Research Institute (CSRI) team last year in Chapel Hill, North Carolina in 2013.  Micah completed his first co-op with the Camden Riversharks minor league baseball team in their Marketing and Promotions department.  A member of the Alpha Epsilon Pi Fraternity, Micah is involved on campus as the Athletics Chairman for the Inter-Fraternity Council and as a Resident Assistant in Race Hall. Connect withMicah on LinkedIn.

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