Forget how the lottery works? Click here
If All-NBA voting says anything, it would appear that our team this year would be similar to last year’s—if not slightly improved!
But it doesn’t. And despite the fact that Andrea Bargnani received an equal amount of All-NBA votes as former franchise Chris Bosh (2, for the record), the Raptors find themselves unsurprisingly in Tuesday night’s lottery festivities. The lottery is essentially a banquet for the NBA’s circus. We get to witness the absolutely most dysfunctional teams try to put a straight face, wear a suit, cross their fingers and pray for a couple of nice bounces with some ping pong balls (or that David Stern really likes your team).
The lottery is always a fun time. It bottles up all the prime-time games, battles for seeding, playoff games, wild playoff crowds and general ‘good player-ness’ that the winning teams get to bask in all season into a half-hour show. It’s the one night—but only night—you wish you were a Minnesota Timberwolves fan.
Incompetent GMs, grey-haired coaches and young athletes who are already booking their free agency tours to LA, Miami and New York sit around awkwardly. It’s the party nobody wants to be at—but once you’re there you’re thankful you have somewhere to be instead of sitting at home playing Farmville—or in the case of the Cleveland Cavaliers, mapping out Ryan Hollins’ development as a player. The only person who looks genuinely excited to be there is the obligatory fan that won a contest to represent the team and that deputy commissioner Adam Silver (who announces the order) feels half bad when saying their team didn’t win.
And then when all the pointless Stuart Scott build up finishes and everyone gets disappointed that New Jersey traded their first round pick away so we won’t get a Mikhail Prokhorov death stare into the camera—the picks start to get announced.
The first couple teams will give a smile to the camera thankful that they at least got a free trip to Seacaucus dinner and then comes the real stuff—when teams start to have realistic mathematical opportunities of getting into the top 3 spots. Usually when teams get announced at lower selections than original slotted this is the general reaction depending on the type of representative.
General Manager: Excellent. Even though we did not get a top pick—we didn’t even want one.
Head Coach: Here
Player: I just got a great flight to see Chicago and Boston’s free agent pitch on July 7th 2016!!
Fan: Do I still have to renew my season’s tickets now?
ANY Female Representative: OH! THAT’S A HIGH NUMBER!
Anyway, enough with my obsession over this event…I’d like to present you with the major storylines to watch for while the picks get called out:
The Raptors are happy to be where they are. The worst thing that could have happened is that we win 30 games, end up with no chance of a top pick and Colangelo tries to sell us on 5 more years of Bargnani. We bottomed out and now we’re where we wanted to be every since Chris Bosh took his lanky body to South Beach. More on bottoming out later…
Only issue with a situation like this is that odds are it will be a disappointment. Being in the top 3, we expect to stay there…but we have something like a 55 percent chance of landing between 4 and 6. Yikes. Which means, naturally, that we have less of a chance of being in the top 3 as we do being in the 4-6 range.
Being in the 4-6 range means we land ourselves beautifully in The Donatas Zone. What’s the Donatas Zone one may ask? Let me explain. Read the following paragraph and close your eyes (at the same time preferably) and imagine this player in a Raptors uniform:
Is extremely talented and he knows it. At times he doesn’t keep the pedal to the metal, exhibiting some lapses in focus and intensity (laziness) in practices … Sometimes appears content to be better than others without dominating them the way he’s capable … That’s the type of thing that he’ll need to mature out of, learning to work hard at all times in order to reach the stature of a Gasol or Nowitzki … Still needs to add polish on his moves on the perimeter but has excellent potential to do so … Has thin arms and upperbody, although he has solid strength. He’ll need to get stronger to contend with NBA bigs … Solid length (6-11 wingspan) but nothing extraordinary … Not as experienced or established as other European talents (such as Gasol or Nowitzki) were when they entered the NBA.
Alright—which current Raptor did this remind you of? DeMar, right? Really? Andrea? I wonder how you came up with that.
Oh that’s right—because it sounds identical to him! And it’s no surprise that all the NBA comparison lead right to Il Mago. Donatas is a replica Bargnani. When he gets drafted the NBA 2K12 guys can just copy and paste all of Bargnani’s attributes for him. He’s an uber-talented, uber-doesn’t-care-at-all, power forward who puts shame to the word power.
And of all the lottery teams I wonder who would be most inclined to take Donatas? How about the guy that drafted his clone?
I don’t think Colangelo will pick Donatas—not because of skill or desire, but rather redundancy—but it’s a fear that’s gripped me if we do slide into that 6th spot.
But let’s stay positive (and a bit more realistic) and be happy that we’ve placed ourselves into a great position. Many teams will be upset that they have to endure the procedure and would rather have themselves in the playoffs—and trust me, so would I—but at the end of the day you need to really bottom out in order to reach the top. Lebron and Derrick Rose went 1st overall, Durant and Jason Kidd went 2nd, Bosh and Westbrook went 4th, Wade was 5th, Nowitzki went 9th. I could go on and on. Tyson Chandler, Luol Deng, Joakim Noah, and Shawn Marion were also all lottery picks. Point being—if you want to eventually play in late May and June, the road doesn’t go through Oklahoma, Dallas, Miami or Chicago—it goes through Seacaucus, New Jersey and the NBA Draft Lottery.
Yes, it may be depressing to see Bryan Colangelo sit patiently and either receive the precious gift of a top selection or be sliced by the guillotine of David Stern’s conspiracy terrible luck, but it’s gotta get done.
Speaking of cutting Bryan Colangelo’s head off, I’ve come to the conclusion that our ownership is either keeping Bryan or the Ontario Teacher’s Pension Plan needs to go back to school. With OTPP Board Member Glen Silverstri blocking a contract extension for Colangelo and his status largely in the air as his contract expires on July 1st and the Teachers, who want to sell their piece of MLSE, hesitant to tie more money up in a GM they believe to have a shaky record. Don’t you love when business guys start making basketball decisions?
So, how have I come to the conclusion that they are keeping Colangelo? He’ll be sitting behind a desk Tuesday night with the Raptor logo on the front. That’s right—he’s our representative. Now this isn’t like a GM-only event. It wouldn’t be absurd to send DeMar, Ed Davis or even Andrea to the event. But Colangelo is going there. Now, let’s say, by some divine intervention from the basketball gods, the Raptors end up with the top selection. Colangelo will do a little interview explaining his excitement, have clips running on Sportscentre tomorrow morning on repeat of him Tiger Woods-esque fist pumping at the news and have those same clips—of the interview and the fist pumping, along with many photo-ops—recycled for Draft night in late June.
How embarrassing would it be if they also announced on Draft night that the same guy that was in Seacaucus—ain’t with us anymore. Now, they could have Colangelo draft for us without a contract in place and get rid of him on July 1st—but I think MLSE has the slightest bit of intelligence and won’t be that disrespectful to Colangelo. So, I’d like to think that Colangelo will be with us whenever we have an NBA season again.
Which brings me to the next storyline—which is the NBA lockout. Here’s the beauty of getting a top pick. Whoever we pick automatically reaches Roddy Beaubois status. For those not familiar with the theory, Beaubois is a guard for Dallas that has played in very few games because of injury but with each passing trade deadline, Dallas refuses to trade him because they believe he is going to be some sort of incredibly special talent. Well, whenever Beaubois has played, he’s been underwhelming—but it hasn’t stopped every analyst, sportswriter and even some NBA executives from declaring him some sort of basketball messiah.
Anyway, if we draft Kyrie Irving (and please basketball gods, this is not blasphemy—purely hypothetical) and he doesn’t play until January 2012 or even September 2012—my goodness, it’ll still be fun talking about him for a whole year. By not playing, he’ll reach legendary status. The Chris Paul comparisons will certainly help. Not only that but apparently the word Kyrie was used in the earliest Greek translations for Lord. The phrase Kyrie eleison means “Lord have mercy”.
With all of these storylines, issues and feelings bouncing around in my head—the only thing bouncing that will matter are the ping pong balls in that ominous machine.
Kyrie eleison, Raptors fans, Kyrie eleison.
Forget how the lottery works? Click here. I am going to be praying to the basketball gods do not so do not disturb me with emails tonight. You may reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org with hopefully positive news tomorrow of Kyrie Irving’s arrival in Toronto–or you may console me when we drop to 6th and Colangelo declares Donatas atop his draft board on live television.