Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Did you buy a lottery ticket?

By John Gottlieb
The Phanatic Magazine

Tonight the faces of at least two franchises will forever change as the bigwigs and lucky charms get together in the beautiful scenic town of Secaucus, NJ to determine who gets to take Greg Oden and who is left in the cold with Kevin Durant.

It seems like a win-win situation…but it’s not. When all is said and done there will be only one true winner in tonight’s lottery.

We can all keep pretending that Kevin Durant will be the same type of impact player that Greg Oden will be, but why keep up with the charade?

Imagine a lineup of Pau Gasol, Mike Miller, Rudy Gay, Chucky Atkins and Oden (with Larry Brown on the bench). Or picture Paul Pierce, Delonte West, Al Jefferson, Wally Szczerbiak and Oden getting ready for a contest on the parquet in Boston. There’s also the scenario that nobody wants to see and that includes Oden sticking around in BIG Ten country and suiting up alongside Michael Redd, Andrew Bogut, Mo Williams and Charlie Bell in the 36th-rated market.

Now replace Oden with Kevin Durant and how many of those teams become instant playoff contenders? Oden is the prize and everyone else is just second fiddle.

Any GM that would even consider taking Durant ahead of Oden deserves to be in the NBA lottery year-in and year-out.

Everyone slots Durant as a slasher with tremendous range. Well the NBA is full of those types of players, just look at Tracy McGrady, Vince Carter and LeBron James. One of those players has never made it out of the first round of the playoffs, another saw his game disappear this postseason and his Majesty is now feeling the heat of a pass-first mentality with the game on the line.

The point is those guys don’t win titles.

How many rings does Tim Duncan have? He’s got three and is on his way to a fourth, making him one of the immortal players in NBA history. Those are the types of players that take you to the promise land.

Durant may be the next Michael Jordan and Oden may be the next Sam Bowie, but I’m willing to bet that’s not the case.

Obviously, nothing helps the NBA more than if the struggling Celtics get the first overall selection and Danny Ainge selects Oden, returning Boston to a national power on the NBA landscape. But nothing is secure with Danny running the show.

Durant’s not bringing the Celtics back to a contender, but Oden can be the game-changer that has been missing.

Is tonight the night that Boston gets repaid for missing out on Tim Duncan in the 1997 draft or does the luck of the Irish bypass the C’s and leave them in the lurch with the third pick.

Elsewhere, imagine the Suns getting the fourth pick in the draft and choosing North Carolina’s Brandan Wright. Trading Joe Johnson hasn’t hurt the club and now they can benefit as long as the Hawks don’t get a top-three pick.

However, Atlanta shouldn’t be left out as long as Indiana doesn’t miraculously jump eight spots into the top three to keep it’s pick from the Al Harrington deal.

And then there are the Knicks. They had to have Eddy Curry so bad that this will be the second consecutive first-round draft choice that will go to Chicago. You can only hope some how that New York gets one of the first two draft choices just to throw more dirt at Isiah Thomas.

The lottery was made a part of the game in 1985 to prevent teams from tanking the season to win the draft rights to Patrick Ewing. It was changed in 1990 to give the team with the worst record the best chance, but that didn’t work well either, forcing the Association to make another change five years later.

Now once again the thought is that the process needs to be changed for the worst teams not to lay down and die (like the Boston Celtics). Why should teams like that be rewarded?

It is the night we’ve all been waiting for since the NCAA basketball season started last fall. So keep your fingers crossed and hold your rabbit’s foot because the one winner from tonight’s lottery will be well on its way to an NBA title.

The NBA draft hasn’t been this anticipated since Shaquille O’Neal came out in 1992 and the Diesel now has four rings. One way or another one franchise will have its fate changed dramatically at 7:30 pm. It's Greg Oden's world, we're all just living in it.
Memphis (22-60) 250
Boston (24-58) 199
Milwaukee (28-54) 156
Atlanta (30-52) 119 - May go to Phoenix
Seattle (31-51) 88
Portland (32-50) 53
Minnesota (32-50) 53
Charlotte (33-49) 19
New York (33-49) 19 - May go to Chicago
Sacramento (33-49) 18
Indiana (35-47) 8 - May go to Atlanta
Philadelphia (35-47) 7
New Orleans (39-43) 6
LA Clippers (40-42) 5

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