May 30th, 2012 | by CASEY JARMAN News |

It Takes Balls: A Part-Time Blazer Enthusiasts' Guide to Tonight's NBA Draft Lottery

     
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UPDATE: The Blazers landed number 6 and number 11 in the NBA draft. That's right where the team was predicted to land. So there's that. 

The NBA's unique draft lottery is a fancy, even thrilling way of not simply handing the best incoming players to the worst teams. In case you've not been paying attention—and, seriously, you'd be forgiven for not paying attention after that long, slow slide into the offseason—we thought we'd round-up the Trail Blazers' role in tonight's draft lottery, which is at 5 pm on ESPN.

So, what picks do the Blazers have in tonight's NBA draft lottery?
It's complicated.

What do you mean?
Well, the Blazers have two picks in the NBA draft lottery, which is not unlike the Oregon State Lottery, but exclusively for shitty NBA teams. The worst 14 teams—the teams not currently playing in the NBA playoffs—are all involved. And I'm sure you know this, but no one is getting drafted tonight. That happens in a month.

Oh, yeah, I totally knew that. But why do we have two picks? Were we that bad this year?
Please don't say "we" when you're talking about a professional sports team, it's really annoying. So, the Blazers got one pick for having a bad season (it's projected to be the 11th pick, based on how many lottery ball number combinations the team has, but it could go as high as number one or as low as number 14), and another one from the New Jersey Nets (who, to further complicate things, are moving to Brooklyn this summer).

Oh, right, and that pick from the Nets has weird strings attached, right?
Yeah, exactly. The pick from the Nets only goes to the Blazers if it lands at the four spot or better. If it's a top three pick, the Nets get to keep it.

What are the chances that the Nets will keep the pick?
A little over 25 percent, which is also roughly the Charlotte Hornets' chance of winning the number one pick.

What chance is there that the Blazers will land in the top three with their natural draft pick?
About three percent, but that's kind of complicated, too.

Why?
Well, because in the past decade the Blazers have a history of trading picks on draft night and moving up in the draft. They could conceivably land two top-10 picks and swap them to a team for a single top-3 pick. In fact, they could include second-round picks, too.

There's a second round?
Yeah, but a lot of the players drafted in the second round never actually make it to the NBA or don't work out. They often have funny names, though, and sometimes they are drafted more as future prospects than anything else. This year the Blazers have picks 40 and 41, which sound bad, but they can be a pretty throw-in when you're talking about draft-night trades.

Does Portland have any of those future prospects floating around?
Yes, and there's a chance one or two of them could come to play in Portland this year. I'm rooting for Joel Freeland to make the jump across the pond from England, but I guess he's sorta popular in Europe.

So who is making all these draft decisions if Portland doesn't have a General Manager?
There is of course Chad Buchanan, the interim General Manager, but a lot of folks suggest that Paul Allen is really calling the shots.

Let's say Portland does some crazy magic and lands the number one or two pick. Are high-profile players scared to come to Portland because of Roy and Oden's injuries?
That's a really good question. Bill Simmons seems to think so. They may be more hesitant because it's a small market, which makes it harder to land big sneaker deals and such, or because of cultural reasons (Greg Oden recently suggested that Portland was not a fun place for young black men to hang out).

So, can the Blazers make some trades this offseason, too?
Oh God yes. The fact is that more than half the team is going into some kind of free agency this summer—restricted, which basically gives a team the option to resign a player (sometimes at a high market value price), or otherwise. Felton, Thabeet, Flynn, Hickson, Batum, Przybilla—these are all guys at the end of their contracts. Some of them have different kinds of stipulations attached to those contracts, but the Blazers should be really active this summer. Some guys will get dropped, some resigned and some could be involved in sign-and-trade deals.

If the Blazers are probably going to end up with picks six and 11, why are people getting so excited?
Well, I don't watch a lot of college basketball, but from what I understand this is a very deep draft. A Bradley Beal, a Harrison Barnes or an Austin Rivers—these are guys who can contribute to a team right away. And at the 11th pick, there's still a really good chance of landing real talent. Plus, after that crummy season, I guess Blazer fans just really need something to be excited about.

Has anyone with a really shitty lottery position ever snagged the number one pick?
Longshots have happened more often than you might expect. In 1993, Orlando was in the 14 spot, giving them a one percent chance of landing the top draft pick, and they got it, landing Chris Webber. They traded him right away because they had drafted Shaq the year before. In 2007, the Blazers had what looked like the seventh pick. It kept moving up (perhaps one spot too far in retrospect) and the Zers landed the first pick. 

So anything can happen, huh?
Almost anything, sure. That's the fun of tonight.

Is there a webpage I can refresh over and over and over again to see how things might shake out?

How good is this kid with the unibrow? I did the mock draft like 20 times and he was always on top.

 
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