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Shepkowski: The Case For Every Team Winning A Rigged NBA Draft Lottery

The draft lottery is being held in Chicago on Tuesday night.

Nick Shepkowski
May 15, 2018 - 1:22 pm
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By Nick Shepkowski--

(670 The Score) Get ready for a new day, Bulls fans, because your beloved team is winning the draft lottery Tuesday night. No ifs, and, buts, ors about it, the Bulls are winning this lottery and Deandre Ayton will be a Bull as the first overall pick in the 2018 NBA Draft.

It has to happen, right? The fact the draft lottery is being held here in Chicago means this will be rigged just like it was when David Stern pulled the cold Knicks envelope out back in 1985, which gave New York the pick that got it Patrick Ewing. 

It’s done, it’s over and it’s going to happen. The dawn of a new era is upon all Bulls fans. It's obvious it’s going to happen. Just look at what the Chicago Tribune recently did. It hired Malika Andrews as its second Bulls and NBA reporter alongside K.C. Johnson. That's a clear sign the Tribune has inside information that the Bulls are nabbing the No. 1 pick and the rebuild is about to take off. This is destiny.

Unless, of course, the NBA changes its mind. How could the league pass up the opportunity the rig the lottery so Ayton stays in his college state and goes to the Suns? They do have the best odds, with a 25 percent chance to nab the No. 1 pick, so I suppose if the league wants to rig it, it’d raise fewer eyebrows if it gave the top pick to the league’s worst team this season. Yeah, the more I think about it, the more the NBA will rig it that way.

The Memphis Grizzlies had a down year after being a playoff regular for the better part of the past decade. The NBA doesn’t want to see that good deed go unnoticed. I’m sure the 19.9 percent chance the Grizzlies have at the top pick will come to fruition, as the league does its best to make sure the Grizzlies aren’t a lottery team for long.

Then there are the Dallas Mavericks, who have been in the news for all the wrong reasons. Outside of Dirk Nowitzki and his Hall of Fame career, this franchise has been through hell the last couple of years, and I know the NBA would like to please that loud-mouth Mark Cuban. So I can see No. 1 going to the Mavericks.

The Hawks hold a 13.7 percent chance at No. 1, and they’re kind of the Eastern Conference version of the Memphis Grizzlies. No, they weren’t any good this season, but they’ve been a playoff mainstay for quite some time before this season. And even if Dwight Howard is no longer the megastar he once was, you know the league wants the Hawks to get more compensation after they gave up a huge name last offseason. You know, 13.7 percent is a bit of a reach but not overly far-fetched. Yep, no question about it now -- No. 1 is going to Hotlanta as the league tries to make it more of a destination and the Hawks a threat to the 76ers and Celtics for years to come.

Then again, when I think of big men in my life, there has been one team that gets them as rookies and gets to the NBA Finals with them on their rosters. The Magic drafted both Shaquille O'Neal and Howard originally, with both making it all the way to the NBA Finals. That means Ayton is next in line. The Magic's 8.8-percent chance might as well be 100 percent.

However, it has been 16 years since the NBA rigged the playoffs and screwed the Sacramento Kings out of beating the Lakers in the Western Conference Finals. Enough time has passed for it to no longer be obvious, but we’re still all aware that the Kings are owed one from the league. I can envision that coming to fruition for Sacramento, allowing its decade-long rebuild to hit fast-forward.

Or we could see something else all too familiar. After LeBron James left the Cavaliers in the summer of 2010, Cleveland was rewarded by the league with the No. 1 pick in 2011 and 2013. One ended up being Kyrie Irving, while the other was all-time bust Anthony Bennett. Now the league can either get James a huge piece as it tries to get him to remain home. Or he could leave in free agency and the Cavaliers can jump-start their rebuild. Cavaliers at No. 1? Book it.

We also know that the NBA loves its New York market -- so much that when the first lottery was held, it made sure Ewing went to the Knicks. Why wouldn’t the league do that again? Get the extremely marketable Luka Doncic to New York, where he can shine with Kristaps Porzingis. So, that 1.7 percent chance be damned, the Knicks will be picking first.

The NBA knows the value of a great rivalry, and it certainly appears there's a budding one between a couple of old foes in the East. Yes, the Celtics just eliminated the 76ers from the postseason, but both look primed for quality runs in the next few years to come. What would pour gasoline on that fire? The 76ers getting the No. 1 pick and having cap space to use. The year of Philadelphia continues -- the 76ers might not have won a title like the Eagles or Villanova, they will set themselves up for one by landing No. 1.

What would be embarrassing for the NBA though? The thought of failing in the same city twice. Can it let professional basketball fail in Charlotte for a second time? The Hornets sit in the lottery with a 0.8 percent chance at No. 1. The NBA getting the Hornets the top pick would help fire up that basketball crazy state and give Michael Jordan a chance at redemption after his Kwame Brown fiasco years ago.

What stinks though is when you see a former must-see team struggling to fill the stands. The Bad Boys Pistons of the late 1980s and early 1990s are the team most basketball fans grew up hating. Then the Pistons disappeared for much of the '90s before going to six straight conference finals in the mid-2000s. Blake Griffin is in Detroit, but he needs a sidekick. The Pistons' pick is owed to the Clippers as part of the Griffin trade, but it's top-four protected. That comes into play here as the worlds collide and the Pistons win the lottery.

But does the NBA perhaps want to reward the Clippers for losing their megastar and for what they may be up against? Think about it – they already have to find a superstar to replace Griffin, but they also need to compete with a Lakers team in their own city that might have the likes of James and Paul George next season. The NBA would like nothing more than to make a great rivalry in the same building, and getting the Clippers the No. 1 pick, despite them having just a 0.6 percent chance, would do just that.

Do you know who has never had a the No. 1 overall pick in the NBA Draft? It's a team that could use a superstar to help its chances in the West. The Denver Nuggets have never drafted No. 1 overall before, so to say they’re due would be an understatement. At this point, they’re owed. The 0.6 percent chance comes true, all because the NBA has to send them an "I’m sorry for never rigging it your way before now" note in the form of a No. 1 pick that helps make the Nuggets a compelling team in the West for years to come.

So there you go – whatever ends up happening Tuesday evening, we know that it’s rigged. Because it’s the NBA Draft lottery, and that’s the way it always is, right? At least now you know going into it why whoever gets the No. 1 was rewarded.

Obviously, because commissioner Adam Silver wanted them to.

Nick Shepkowski is the executive producer of the McNeil & Parkins Show on 670 the Score in afternoon drive. Follow him on Twitter @Shep670.