For your reference, he's the actual pick order for next month's draft. The number in parentheses indicates the number of picks a team moved up or down, relative to where they should have ended up if the lottery went exactly according to script (i.e. without any surprises).
1. Cleveland (+8)
2. Milwaukee (-1)
3. Philadelphia (-1)
4. Orlando (-1)
5. Utah (-1)
6. Boston (-1)
7. Lakers (-1)
8. Sacramento (-1)
9. Charlotte (from Detroit because the pick fell outside the top 8)
10. Philadelphia (from New Orleans because the pick fell outside the top 5)
12. Orlando (from New York via Denver)
So as you can see, it went almost entirely according to plan, except that Cleveland vaulted up into the top spot, pushing everyone between there and the #9 spot they were supposed to occupy down a spot. This include's Bill Celtics. And as I've alluded to in several posts for the past month, Bill was really, really, REALLY excited about this lottery. The Celtics did everything right--which is to say they did their absolute best to properly tank--they traded Garnett and Pierce (and Rivers), didn't rush Rondo back from his injury, and generally didn't field a team you would ever expect to do well.
But they also tried hard with what they had! They left it all on the court every night! No one denies this! Bill emphasized this every time he started talking about how Andrew Wiggins or Jabari Parker would be playing for the Celtics next year; if your team is tanking but they aren't doing it "the right way" (of course you'll read much, much more about this below) then they don't deserve to reap the benefits of said tanking. But arbiter of all things basketball, and totally unbiased C's SUPAHFAN Bill said they had followed all the rules. So after four or five months of tweets and mentioning this subject offhand in every one of his basketball columns, the lottery was upon us. Which led to this article about which teams had the best karma, i.e. "deserved" to do well in the lottery. Sit back and enjoy the schadenfreude.
This is a very good indicator that Joel Embiid will not be the first pick of the 2014 draft.
These teams are full of it. We’re worried about his back, we’re hearing it’s bad … Hold on, I’m actually going to stand under the bull as he craps on me.
Would you? Maybe just stay down there for a while, then.
It’s Smokescreen Central right now.
YOU CAN'T FOOL BILL! HE'S TOO SMART FOR YOUR TACTICS, DUMB NBA GMS! YOU MIGHT FOOL EACH OTHER, BUT YOU'LL NEVER FOOL A CERTIFIED GENIUS WHO ONCE INTERVIEWED BILL RUSSELL! I just Googled "2014 NBA mock draft" and checked out the first ten results. Of course this is highly unscientific; but people who take the draft seriously enough to run a site that climbs to the top of the Google rankings heap (www.draftexpress.com and www.nbadraft.net were two of those ten results--they both seem to be run by NBA superfanboys) have at least as much knowledge as Bill and probably more. Embiid went 1st in three of the ten drafts I looked at. Wiggins went first in the other seven; no one had Parker going first. Two of them had Parker going second and Embiid going third. So, the safe money is on Wiggins, for now. You heard it here last.
And enough with the Oden parallels; unless Embiid’s pre-draft MRI reveals a career-threatening back issue (doubtful), NOBODY is passing on a franchise center who could easily be described as “The 7-Foot Serge Ibaka.”
BUT DOES HE WALK FUNNY????
One of Bill's most obnoxious recurring bits. It makes him sound like a sorority girl.
He’s going first.
I doubt it.
We’re officially calling tonight’s lottery “Bleed for Embiid.”
HAHA BECAUSE STUFF THAT RHYMES IS FUNNY
With that stuff out of the way, let’s focus on the percentages that really matter — the 2014 Lottery Karma Rankings! It’s not about what the Ping-Pong balls say, it’s about what the Karma Gods say.
Which is to say, it's about how Bill feels about these teams, based on his high scientific method of being a mental 19 year old who likes the NBA a lot and sometimes watches college basketball if it's February or March.
Do your boys REALLY deserve to win the lottery? Did they handle their business the right way last season? Did they embarrass themselves with a tanking fiasco? Did they make a shady trade that inadvertently affected the playoff race? Did they do anything that made you say, “They just took a poop on their fans”?
Another horrendous recurring bit he does. It's Reilly-esque.
Have they been so inept for so many years that their ineptitude just shouldn’t be rewarded anymore? Did they make any aggressively stupid decisions like paying Josh Smith and Brandon Jennings $78 million combined without hiring them a strong coach, or gift-wrapping a $48.5 million extension to an injured and possibly washed-up Kobe Bryant without making sure he could still play basketball three times a week?
Yeah, you wouldn't want them crapping all over their fans by signing good players or keeping hometown heroes around!
Are they owned by someone you’d describe as “an incompetent legacy kid who’d be working in a grocery store if his dad weren’t rich” or even “possibly concussed, he should seriously get his head checked out”?
Yeah! All those things definitely are important and worth writing a column about! Also, not that you care, but spoiler, he's going to put the Nuggets in the top three of this list. Let me assure that "an incompetent legacy kid who'd be working in a grocery store if his dad weren't rich" is a bit of a harsh overstatement when it comes to Nuggets owner Josh Kroenke (who doesn't technically own the team yet but has been de facto owner for four years and will be titled owner soon), but isn't exactly far from the truth either.
And on the flip side, are they doing everything the right way? Do they have a real plan? Did they make an honest attempt to make the playoffs? Could you describe them as “exceedingly well run” and/or “just a solid, solid organization”?
Die. Die die die.
Did they make one or more trades that could be described as “genuinely smart” or even “stunning in its vision and scope”? Are they a franchise that makes you say, “If Embiid/Wiggins/Jabari ends up there, they’ll take care of that guy”?
Have they had bad lottery luck in the past? Are they due for a lottery break? Should the Karma Gods be saying, “We feel bad, we gotta hook those guys up”?
Look, bitch all you want about Cleveland getting three top picks in four years (and he's about to, or about to bitch about the idea), but they absolutely deserved Kyrie Irving, last year's draft was so bad that their victory there barely matters, and you can't say much of anything has gone right for them in the last thirty years other than winning the 2003 lottery. But why bother expecting Bill to be logical or consistent. That's not how you become a vertical integration machine, people.
Without further ado, the 2014 Bleed For Embiid Lottery Karma Rankings …
No Karma Whatsoever
13. Cleveland Cavaliers
I can’t decide what makes them more ineligible for karma — would you go with “two no. 1 overall picks and two other top-four picks just in the past three years, but they batted 25 percent,”
Yeah! If you win the lottery in a terrible draft, and take one of the ten mostly worthless players available in said lottery instead of one of the four maybe average-ish players, that makes you bad, somehow! FACK YOU!
or would you go with “rehired the same shaky coach they already fired, gave him a five-year deal, then fired him again after Year 1”?
That was a bad decision. That team could really use a marquee player to help erase that bad decision.
When Obama appoints me the Czar of Sports, I’m making this rule: “No NBA team can win the lottery two times in a 10-year span.” Much less three.
Totally reasonable. Winning the lottery should reset your karma meter to negative billion jillion, not to mention how much you poop crap all over your fans if you make a crappy poop selection with that pick.
It’s too bad Brick Tamland isn’t a real person,
Not it's not.
because the Cavs definitely would have hired him as their coach/GM.
No. He's obviously mentally disabled. No nine-figure enterprise would put him in charge of operations. That's just a silly thing to say. Personally, putting aside the fact that my team didn't win the lottery, I couldn't be much happier that Cleveland did win it. As I described a few posts ago, Bill's reaction on live TV ten minutes after the announcement was so delicious. Oh wait, I bet it's on Youtube! It is! Enjoy, everyone.
12. Minnesota Timberwolves
Just for screwing up Kevin Love’s contract and letting him leave after three years (instead of locking him down for five), they’re out. Also not helping: Did you know this is ‘Sota’s 10th straight lottery? Ten straight??? From 2006 through 2011, the Timberwolves had SEVEN picks ranging between no. 2 and no. 7. They’re the real-life equivalent of your college buddy who had three kids way too early in life and now uses your fantasy football draft as an excuse to get bombed because he got out of the house for four hours.
That's a nonsensical and unfunny analogy. Also, they've been bad for a long time--that seems like as good a reason as any for them to finally catch a break or two. Also also, remember at the beginning of the season when Rubio was gelling nicely with Love and Bill couldn't go two fucking paragraphs without calling them a "watch them whenever they're on TV" team? What happened, Bill? What happened? Did the wind change directions on you again?
11. Sacramento Kings
Headed for their eighth straight lottery and their sixth straight top-seven pick (unless someone leapfrogs them).
Naturally, someone did.
I’m an NBA Republican — I don’t think we should use the lottery, year after year, to keep propping up incompetent teams.
Always a good way to charm your readership: use some ham-fisted and unnecessary political comparisons.
It’s a broken system. We need a “Make eight straight lotteries and you’re ineligible from getting a top-three pick” rule.
Sports are definitely more fun (and inspire more fans to pay attention) when teams that are bad are forced to stay bad forever, amirite?
Also, I still haven’t forgiven Kings owner Vivek Ranadivé from trying to steal my Entertaining As Hell Tournament idea. Let’s hope he’s not the Carlos Mencia of NBA owners.
Bill, don't try to take pot shots at Carlos Mencia. Somehow, you're not creative or funny enough to pull that off.
10. Philadelphia 76ers
Put it this way: I wrote an entire column about them last March called “10 Steps to Tanking Perfection.”
Put it this way: I wanted to link you to one of my old columns.
The Karma Gods can’t reward anyone who lost 26 straight, much less anyone who turned Michael Carter-Williams into a stat-chasing, brick-laying, award-pursuing mess who learned that it’s OK to lose as long as you throw up an 18-7-7.
NAWT A GOOD ROOKIE OF THE YE-AHH CHOICE! NAWT LEGITIMATE! OLADIPO'S TEAM WAS BETTAH, THAT MAKES HIM THE OBVIOUS CHOICE! STAWP, JUST STAWP!
Even if you can’t blame Philly for taking advantage of a broken system, that doesn’t mean the Lottery Karma Gods can’t scream at them in their Soup Nazi voice, “NO KARMA FOR YOU!”
That's a Seinfeld reference! High five!
9. Orlando Magic
Come on, they already won the lottery three times! And three good ones, too: Shaq, C-Webb and Dwight. I think we’re good, Orlando.
Yeah! You won the lottery twice in the 90s and again ten years ago!
Just for fun, here’s your lifetime NBA Lottery Winner Scoreboard: Cavaliers (4); Clippers (3); Magic (3); Bucks (2); Bulls (2); Hornets (2); Nets (2); Spurs (2); Wizards (2); 76ers (1); Blazers (1); Kings (1); Knicks (1); Raptors (1); Rockets (1); Warriors (1).
Not pictured: the Nuggets, who have only ever picked at the spot they were supposed to pick or lower; they've never moved up, and never won the top pick despite having the best odds three different times. They were supposed to get Larry Johnson in 1991 (although they got Mutombo instead, so whatever), and then in 2003 they were tied for having the best chance at LeBron. Grumble grumble grumble. Smallest violin for Larry B.
But here’s the craziest and most fascinating NBA lottery fact ever in the history of crazy and fascinating lottery facts: Through 29 NBA lotteries dating back to 1985, only one franchise ever won the NBA title with its own no. 1 overall pick. The team? San Antonio with David Robinson (two titles) and Tim Duncan (four titles, two with Robinson). How is that possible?
Why are you incredulous about this? The answers are all pretty fucking obvious. Because the dynastic nature of the NBA makes winning an NBA title extremely fucking difficult, with only eight teams (Heat, Mavericks, Lakers, Spurs, Pistons, Bulls, Rockets, Celtics) winning every title since 1983. Because rookie contracts don't last that long, and many really awesome players have switched teams early in their careers. Also, the Magic made the finals with Shaq; the Sixers made the finals with Iverson; the Nets made the finals with Kenyon Martin; the Cavs made the finals with LeBron; and the Magic made the finals with Dwight Howard. It's also not hard to imagine the Clippers winning one with Blake Griffin sometime in the next few years. So it's not like it's totally unattainable.
A Cereal Bowl of Karma Points
8. New Orleans Pelicans
Sorry, they totally botched the Chris Paul trade (and gave him to Donald Sterling, no less!), netted about 23 cents on the dollar for him,
Not included among Bill's asinine "does your team deserve it" factors: Did they get boxed into a corner by a superstar, do their best to acquire good assets for him, but ultimately not get much back? Because I think that has happened to pretty much every team at some point. Because running a basketball team under the NBA's CBA is pretty difficult.
then were summarily rewarded by the league totally rigging winning the Anthony Davis Lottery.
He’s only the NBA’s third-best asset right now and the logical answer to the question, “Who’s winning the MVP trophy after LeBron and Durant are done passing it back and forth?” I think we’re good from a karma standpoint, New Orleans. Throwing a couple karma slabs your way only because I love the Brow.
7. L.A. Lakers
You gotta respect the year-to-year greatness of this franchise. Since 1958, they missed the playoffs only five times. They won only 27 games last year; that’s somehow their lowest total since 1958. They’ve never won the lottery; since 1982, they’ve never picked higher than 10th. They won 11 of the last 42 titles and appeared in 26 of the last 55 Finals. Since Elgin Baylor joined the Lakers in 1958, they’ve trotted out at least one historically great superstar in 49 of the past 56 seasons.
HOW IN THE WORLD HAS ONLY ONE LOTTERY-WINNING TEAM EVER WON A CHAMPIONSHIP WITH A GUY THEY DRAFTED????
And they’ve produced at least 3.5 million annoying fans (easily a league record).
On the other hand … they’re due to suck for a few years. Right? Why should THEY get the no-sucking-ever exemption?
Because their owner will spend well into luxury tax territory every year? Because they are always a prime destination for every Dwight Howard/Pau Gasol/other star who is looking to get out of their current situation? More importantly though, if the Lakers' success lands them at #7 on this list, surely the Celtics, who have even more titles (and I believe more Finals appearances; I'm not looking it up because I'm trying to finish this quickly) and have trotted out just as many all-time greats as the Lakers, belong at #6, right? Right?
We’ll see if the Karma Gods think Lakers fans should suffer for a few years or not.
They'll be fine.
(By the way, if the Lakers win the lottery tonight, it will be one of the funniest Internet moments of all time and — since I’ll be appearing on live TV on ESPN — I’m just about guaranteed to get fired for what I’ll say afterward. I don’t know if this means the Lakers should get more or fewer karma points.)
It doesn't mean either of those things, because karma points are a construct of your tiny brain and do not exist anywhere else.
6. Utah Jazz
Door A: Hire a competent coach, then re-sign Al Jefferson and Paul Millsap (two really good players).
Door B: Let Jefferson and Millsap go; trade for $20 million in Golden State’s expirings and pick up two G-State first-rounders in 2014 and 2017 that almost definitely won’t be in the lottery; then keep Ty Corbin as your coach just to make sure your team sucks enough for 2014 lottery purposes.
My verdict: I don’t think the Lottery Karma Gods loved how this played out.
ALSO, THEY WENT TO TWO FINALS FIFTEEN YEARS AGO--SHOULDN'T THEY BE MADE TO SUFFAH FO-AH A WHILE? THEY'VE HAD ENOUGH SUCCESS FO-AH NOW.
A Salad Bowl of Karma Points
5. Milwaukee Bucks
Let’s be honest — the Karma Gods already threw them a solid with the whole “instead of losing your team to a superior offer from Seattle, we miraculously found two billionaire hedge fund guys who want to keep the Bucks in Milwaukee even if we’re not totally sure that Milwaukee loves professional basketball” thing.
That is not karma. That is "owning a sports team is a great investment right now, and those guys stepped up to buy the Bucks under the condition that they not move the team, because Herb Kohl and the NBA didn't want to deal with the ensuing mess."
But unlike Philly, this franchise actually tried to compete — they spent money on midlevel free agents like O.J. Mayo, Gary Neal and Zaza Pachulia, overpaid Larry Sanders and made a sincere run at 40 wins and a first-round playoff sweep. Did that sincere run make any sense whatsoever? No!!!!!!!!!!!!! Absolutely not!!!! But at least they tried … right?
So don't take a crap on your fans. But also don't try to get better. And whatever you do, don't be a historically great and successful team, because that disqualifies you from getting any special magic karma points.
(Also, Viva La Greek Freak.)
You like a guy who plays for this team. Nice to know. America's most popular sports columnist is on the case.
(Also, this is the other “Funniest Twitter-Related Outcome” for the no. 1 pick. You know, considering they just sold the team and all … and considering we just watched the same thing happen with New Orleans two years ago.)
What? Who the fuck cares? Also, in a funny twist, the Bucks DID end up being a big deal on Twitter the night of the draft, because one of their owners, who I can only guess has never talked to an 18 to 45 year old American male, had his cute 18 year old daughter serve as the Bucks' lottery representative on TV. Naturally, Barstool, Deadspin, and the rest of the internet was on the case and prepared to tackle this story. HEY GUYZ LOOK IT'S A GURL
4. Detroit Pistons
Do you penalize them for the never-ending slew of head-scratching trades and signings, all the coaches they hired and fired, and all the money they tossed away? Or do you say, “It’s time for a fresh start for DEEEEEEE-troit basssssssketball
They're poorly run and have made some horrendous free agent signings the past few years... but... they have a memorable (if annoying) cheer that they yell in their arena! To the top third of the rankings with you, poorly run team that is somehow different than the other poorly run teams at the bottom of this pointless, shitty list!
with Andre Drummond, Stan Van Gundy and a top-three lottery pick, followed by the down-low hiring of V. Stiviano to secretly bait Josh Smith and Brandon Jennings into saying something terrible into a tape recorder so they can void both of their contracts”?
HAHA SHE WAS THE LADY WHO TAPED DONALD STERLING! THAT'S A CULTURAL REFERENCE!
(You know what? I’m going with the latter. The NBA is more fun when the Pistons are good.
Sucks to be you, Timberwolves and Kings. The league is no fun at all when you're good. What Bill really means here is that he has fond memories of the Celtics teams of his younger days (as well as the 2008 Celtics) winning playoff series against Detroit, which is what puts those other poorly run teams out in the cold.
They cleaned house, they’re moving forward, they made a very smart hiring with SVG, and now they deserve a break, dammit. Also, Jalen Rose would start throwing $100 bills into Indiana’s crowd tonight if his Pistons won the lottery.)
Jalen Rose is kind of funny and kind of likable. Too bad he seems to be developing a friendship with Bill. Hopefully he's just putting on a show while the cameras are rolling, and quietly hates Bill as much as the rest of us.
3. Denver Nuggets
Turned a high-functioning, 57-win team into a dysfunctional, 36-win team mostly through organizational incompetence. So why stick them this high? Because there’s a remote chance they could win the lottery with New York’s Ping-Pong balls (thanks to the Carmelo trade from years ago). Who has worse karma than the Knicks? Isn’t this destiny? For one night, the Nuggets get to bask in the bizarro glow of James Dolan’s basketball karma. Even if they have a 0.8 percent chance of winning, once you factor in Dolan, that jumps to 25 percent easy. I have a weird feeling about this one.
As I bitched before, the Nuggets have never, ever, EVER moved up in the lottery. This lottery did not deviate from that trend.
2. Boston Celtics
You gotta admit,
I have to admit nothing, other than the fact that I really, really, really enjoyed watching you watch the Celtics end up with the sixth pick.
they sold as high as possible on Pierce and Garnett (three unprotected no. 1s from Brooklyn in 2014, 2016 and 2018 plus a pick swap in 2017)
I have totally dumped on this line of thinking before, and I will do it again. While I do think that's good value in terms of what you could expect to get for old Pierce and older Garnett, those picks probably aren't going to amount to jack shit. This year's is going to be #17. The Nets are certainly old and rickety and could conceivably fall apart by 2016, but I think there's a much better chance they're still a playoff team then. 2018 is too far out to predict.
and Doc Rivers (an unprotected no. 1 in 2015 that has a puncher’s chance of becoming a gem if the Sterlings fight to keep the Clippers and every Clipper decides, “I am suing to play for a different team”).
If "puncher's chance" means a 1% chance, then no, not it does not. If "puncher's chance" means a 0.00001% chance, yeah, I'll agree with that.
You can’t execute an impromptu rebuilding plan better than that.
OW-UH C'S TANK BETTAH THAN EVERYONE! NO ONE DENIES THIS! THE LAKAHS HAVE TOO MUCH GOOD HISTORY TO GET ANY DRAFT KAHHHHMAHHH!
Also helping from a karma standpoint: As a lifelong Celtics fan, I’ve suffered through three tanking seasons (1997, 2007 and 2014) …
You fucking asshole. Go jump in front of a bus, you self-obsessed dope. I HAVE SUFFAHED THREE TIMES IN THE LAST SEVENTEEN FACKIN' YEARS. ME ME ME ME. Your teams have won like twenty championships in the last decade. I hope your power goes out the next time you're enjoying something on TV.
and of those three teams, this was the only tanker that actually made me proud. They competed just about every night for Brad Stevens, blowing close game after close game because they didn’t have a crunch-time guy. It was the perfect tanking season, actually. I never felt like I had to take one of those 40-minute showers to get the stink off me. Throw in the way they handled Doc’s return, Pierce’s return and KG’s return and it’s hard to say the Celtics didn’t accrue some legitimate karma here. Then again, I’m a humongous homer.
That last sentence does not mitigate the 2,500 words of pure whale shit that came before it.
1. Phoenix Suns
There's no need to show his analysis. I'll just leave you with the fart-tinged stench of that Celtics paragraph. Just ponder that, if you want to get pissed on a sunny, beautiful late spring Friday: a Boston Celtics fan is pretty convinced that, at least in part because this bad team played harder (anecdotally, of course) than the other two bad Celtics teams from the past seventeen fucking years (keep your chins up, Timberwolves fans--It'll be your year one of these decades), they deserved to get Embiid or Wiggins or Parker. Let that roll around in your head for a while as you think about all the fun stuff you're going to do this weekend. If you're like me, it'll give you just enough anger and cynicism to get back to Monday.