Is the NBA Draft Lottery Rigged?

Posted: 05/31/2012 by levcohen in Basketball

Over the years, there have been all kinds of theories involving the NBA and the lottery. It started in 1985, the first ever draft lottery. The Knicks won that lottery and got the rights to Patrick Ewing, the best prospect in years. The reason people see this as a conspiracy is that the Knicks had been bad for a while, and the NBA wanted more money coming out of New York. Anyway, at that time they put team envelopes into a globe and shook them up before taking one out. The 4th one that went in (the Knicks), bent against the side of the globe. David Stern, then and now the NBA Commish, ended up picking up the Knicks envelope and the Knicks got Ewing. Anyway, I think all of that is silly, and the 1985 draft was not rigged.

The debate was kickstarted by this past draft lottery, which happened yesterday. Last year, the New Orleans Hornets- the NBA’s only league owned team- tried to trade their star Chris Paul to the Lakers in a big 3 way trade. The trade was:

Lakers trade Pau Gasol to the Rockets and Lamar Odom to the Hornets for Paul
Rockets trade Kevin Martin, Luis Scola and Gorgan Dragic, and a 1st round pick to the Hornets for Gasol
Hornets trade Paul for Martin, Scola, Dragic, 1st round pick, Odom

To me, that was a really good trade for the Hornets, as they were going to have to end up trading Paul anyway. However, since the NBA owned the Hornets they were able to veto the trade, saying it was unfair. The Hornets went on to trade Paul to the other LA team, the Clippers. Anyway, Saints owner Joe Benson reportedly bought the Hornets this offseason. However, the team is basically still owned by the NBA.

There are some major reasons to believe that this lottery was rigged. One is that the soon to be #1 pick Anthony Davis was seen wearing a Hornets hat two weeks before the lottery. It seems that it is just a little to perfect that the Hornets ended up with the #1 pick.

Another reason could be that Stern felt bad about vetoing the Paul to Lakers trade. Maybe he realized that Kevin Martin is a scoring machine, Scola is a great inside presence with 20 points/ 10 rebounds per game potential, and Dragic would be a good PG if he ever got playing time. Maybe Stern decided that he messed the Hornets up and decided to reward them with the block machine Anthony Davis.

A third reason is that Stern wanted to convince Benson to buy the team. As the owner of the Saints, Benson has been involved in the huge Bounty-Gate scandal this offseason. So it is plausible that Benson is just not a great guy and cheats to win. Maybe Stern reallly needed to find someone to buy the Hornets.

A lot of team executives are angry about this, and they think it is rigged. Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! reports, “It’s such a joke that the league made the new owners be at the lottery for the show,” one high-ranking team executive told Yahoo! Sports. “The league still owns the Hornets. Ask their front office if new owners can make a trade right now. They can’t. This is a joke.” It is interesting that even owners and GM’s of rival teams think that this could really be rigged. Usually, it is all just fan and media speculation. This time, team executives are joining in on the fun.

Verdict: I think that this year’s Draft Lottery was rigged. There are just so many reasons to believe that it is. While I don’t think anybody will ever be sure, I think this is much more likely to be rigged than the Ewing draft. The addition of Benson to the Hornets, and the picture of Davis wearing the Hornets hat before the lottery is just too much.

  1. philabundant says:

    I think you are being paranoid. Why not rig the pick for the Nets to ease their move into Brooklyn?

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