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Volume 26 No. 183
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NBA's New Draft Lottery Format Proves Effective Counter To Tanking

The Pelicans had just a 6% chance of moving up to the No. 1 overall pick in last night's lottery
Photo: NBAE/GETTY IMAGES
The Pelicans had just a 6% chance of moving up to the No. 1 overall pick in last night's lottery
Photo: NBAE/GETTY IMAGES
The Pelicans had just a 6% chance of moving up to the No. 1 overall pick in last night's lottery
Photo: NBAE/GETTY IMAGES

The NBA's "reformed draft lottery process worked as designed," as the Pelicans landed the No. 1 overall pick despite having just a 6% chance, according to Jeff Zillgitt of USA TODAY. The Pelicans were not the "only stunner," as the Grizzlies got the second overall pick after having the eighth-best lottery odds and just a 6.3% chance of moving up to No. 2. There are "probably some smiles in the NBA's basketball operations office," as the league "set out to reform the draft lottery in an attempt to reduce tanking." The NBA's new draft lottery system "flattened the odds and gave teams a better chance to move up" (USA TODAY, 5/15). In N.Y., Benjamin Hoffman writes the fates of the Knicks, Cavaliers and Suns, who each had the best odds -- 14% -- of getting the top pick, "lent credibility to the new lottery system" in what "should be viewed as a positive development by the league office" (N.Y. TIMES, 5/15). ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski said that the results reaffirm "what the numbers said was going to happen." Wojnarowski: "Having the worst record, one of the three worst records in the league, was not much of an advantage" ("NBA Draft Lottery," ESPN, 5/14).

TANKS FOR NOTHING: THE RINGER's Dan Devine notes the six teams with the worst records this past season "will wind up picking lower than they would have had the NBA just doled out picks based on where you finish in the standings" (THERINGER.com, 5/15). Hawks GM Travis Schlenk said the new format "worked" despite his team actually falling several spots in the draft order. Schlenk: "What you are going to see, hopefully, is less emphasis on teams trying to lose games and teams be competitive down the stretch because you have a better chance to move forward. That's the whole purpose of balancing out the odds" (AJC.com, 5/15).

DIDN'T SEE THAT COMING: In Massachusetts, Jim Fenton writes the end result was "hardly a possibility that was widely discussed when sizing up the draft lottery since the Pelicans had six teams ahead of them" with better odds (Brockton ENTERPRISE, 5/15). In Atlanta, Mark Bradley wrote this was the "first anti-tank NBA lottery, and we saw the difference" (AJC.com, 5/14). ESPN's Mike Golic Jr. said, "For the league, this is the exact result you were probably hoping for. Not that they were hoping the Pelicans would get it, but that it would be something to show teams just being down in that range ain't going to get you what you're looking for. ... No one tanks to be the seventh-worst team." ESPN's Mike Schmitz: "The idea of disincentivizing losing came to life last night, and it's a big win for the NBA" ("Golic & Wingo," ESPN Radio, 5/15). In N.Y., Mark Fischer writes the NBA "won big-time" (N.Y. POST, 5/15). ESPN's Jay Bilas said the results have to make NBA officials "feel good about the decision" ("NBA Draft Lottery," ESPN, 5/14).

SO MUCH FOR CONSPIRACY THEORIES: In DC, Des Bieler writes under the header, "So ... Still Think The NBA Draft Lottery Is Rigged?" The first and second picks went to the NBA's "two smallest markets" in New Orleans and Memphis (WASHINGTONPOST.com, 5/15). In Chicago, Phil Rosenthal writes conspiracy theorists are among the losers from the lottery, adding, "Perhaps the folks in tin foil hats will explain that New Orleans and Memphis getting the No. 1 and No. 2 draft selections was merely the league covering its tracks after ensuring the nation’s No. 1 and No. 2 TV markets got to pick third and fourth" (CHICAGOTRIBUNE.com, 5/15).

A MISSED OPPORTUNITY? ABC's Paula Faris noted there was a “meltdown all across” N.Y. when the Knicks did not win the lottery last night. The Knicks entered the night with a 14% chance of landing the top pick, equal with the Cavaliers and Suns for the highest odds ("GMA," ABC, 5/15). FS1's Cris Carter said of Williamson, “With his marketability, with his shoe deal, with his smile, with his charisma, with his humbleness, he was a perfect fit to be a star in New York” ("First Things First," FS1, 5/15). FS1's Shannon Sharpe: "You want him in a big market. ... Zion in New York? Zion in L.A.? That's box office." Sharpe added, "The league is more interesting when you have the big, big guys in big, big markets. ... I do believe, all things being equal, that the NBA would’ve preferred him to land in New York, but there's nothing you can do" ("Undisputed," FS1, 5/15).