The NBA’s new draft lottery formula and the randomness of pingpong balls ensured they couldn’t win for losing.
Fantasies of prospective top picks Zion Williamson, Ja Morant or RJ Barrett immediately bringing the struggling franchise back to prominence were shattered as their fourth-worst record in the NBA resulted Tuesday in only the seventh-best pick in next month’s draft.
The No. 1 pick went to the Pelicans, who had the seventh-worst record, so that’s nice for them and their fans.
Some of the other winners and losers of NBA lottery night 2019, live from Chicago ...
Winner: ESPN’s draft lottery coverage
Well, that was exciting. Until it wasn’t. A big improvement from last year’s show.
Loser: ESPN and TNT
The NBA’s TV partners are helped not at all by the top-two picks going to the nation’s 50th and 51st television markets, but maybe the Lakers will trade for the Anthony Davis or something.
Loser: Conspiracy theorists
Perhaps the folks in tinfoil hats will explain that the Pelicans and Grizzlies getting the No. 1 and No. 2 draft selections was merely the league covering its tracks after ensuring the nation’s Nos. 1 and 2 TV markets got to pick third and fourth.
Winner: Jim Boylen
Expectations for the Bulls drop along with their spot in next month’s draft, taking pressure off Boylen as he begins his first full season as head coach. There won’t be any second-guessing of how he tries to develop Zion/Ja/RJ.
Loser: NBC Sports Chicago
The exclusive local TV home of Bulls games, beginning next season, televised a live watch party on NBCSCH-Plus. The air left the room when it was announced the Bulls had the seventh pick. “Talk about a party killer,” Mark Schanowski said, perhaps already envisioning next season’s postgame shows.
Winner: The Pelicans’ ticket-sales staff
The team tweeted video of the reaction among team salespeople whooping it up when they realized their job will be almost as easy as peddling booze at Mardi Gras.
Winner: Disillusioned longtime Bulls season ticket holders
Sure, there’s no immediate shot in the arm to boost the team this year on par with Williamson, Morant or Barrett. But you almost certainly can resell your 2020 All-Star Game tickets for a bundle (if your plan includes them) and probably score an invitation to practice and lunch with Boylen.
Loser: Stupid money
According to Darren Rovell of the Action Network, SuperBook USA listed the Pelicans as a 300-1 pick to win next season’s NBA championship. With the rights to Williamson, the potential payoff dropped to 25-1. Anyone willing to take those odds is an idiot. Take that bet.
Ten days ago, the Pelicans were 300/1 to win the 2019-2020 NBA title at @SuperBookUSA. Tonight, after getting the No. 1 pick in the draft, they are now 25/1!
NBC Sports Chicago commentator Perdue immediately blamed the Bulls’ bad lottery luck on their representative at the envelopes ceremony, Horace Grant, for not wearing goggles as he did in his playing days. Even if everyone was too disappointed to laugh, it was a solid effort.
Loser: New York sports fans
A few weeks ago they whined because the Giants used their first-round draft pick on a guy from Duke. Now they’re whining that there’s a guy from Duke they won’t be able to get with their first-round pick. Make up your minds, people.
Winner: The No. 7 pick from 10 years ago
Stephen Curry scored a game-high 36 points as his Warriors took a 1-0 lead over the Trail Blazers in the Western Conference finals with a 116-94 victory on Tuesday.
Loser: Jami Gertz
It was bad enough the NBA couldn't spare a No. 1 square for the Hawks she represented at the lottery. (The actress from the Chicago area — known for “Still Standing,” “Square Pegs,” “Seinfeld,” “The Lost Boys” and “Less Than Zero” — is married to investment banker Tony Ressler, their principal owner.) But she was starting to bolt the stage only to discover she still was on camera during the post-announcement interview with Pelicans GM David Griffin and had to sit back down for a bit.
Not because he’s the prospective No. 1 pick. (He actually seemed to be smiling by the time he learned the Pelicans held rights to the choice.) But he came off charming as hell (read: marketable) and genuinely embarrassed by all the praise ESPN’s crew heaped on him.
Loser: The Suns and Cavaliers
Like the Bulls, they played atrociously but also fell from the among the draft’s top four spots thanks to the lottery. Misery may love company, but who loves misery?
Winner: The Bulls
Not literally, of course. But maybe they’ll get another shot at figuring out this lottery stuff a year from now.