It’s that time of the year again. College students are walking across that stage after putting in countless hours to receive the degree they desire. Some were striving to be at the top of their class, others were just trying to make it out with C’s. We have been taught since the 1st grade that we should strive to be number one and hardworking young men and women all over the country are making a transition from being pupils. They have taken that proverbial leap of faith into the real world with hopes of being at the top in their dream jobs. For some, that will be actualized, for others, well… not so much.
The NBA Draft Lottery is upon us and 14 teams have their faith in bouncing ping pong balls. Yes, the same kind of ping pong balls that college kids played a light game of table tennis *cough* beer pong*cough* with a few months ago, will make these kids instant millionaires, but most importantly team saviors. Every lottery-bound NBA front office and fan is hoping tonight that the odds are in their favor, the Bulls having the worst odds at 0.5% and the Sixers with the best odds at 25%, of getting the 1st overall pick. Each one hoping that this is the pick that turns around their team’s fortunes. Getting the best pick in the draft has a perceived notion it’s the best means in guaranteeing a bright future in the NBA — but what about hard work, great scouting, good work environment, and a cohesive plan?
Players come into the league every year via the draft, but only 14 of them will be picked in the lottery portion of the draft (nice way of saying the teams that didn’t make the playoffs, well unless you’re the Knicks *inserts Kanye smile gif*). The 13 other players will be given an opportunity to be the face of their respective franchise, well maybe not the Bulls because who knows who’s the real franchise player on that…never mind. Some hit the ground running (see Karl Towns), others take a couple years to find themselves (see Paul George), others find themselves completely out of the league (hey what’s Jonny Flynn up to). Much of that has to do with the hard work the player puts in to improve their game but the other part of that is the environment and the plan the team puts in motion.
For example, let’s say Team A “loses” tonight’s lottery drawing and gets pick #7. They have done their homework, so while they are disappointed the luck of the Irish didn’t shine on them this night, they are not rattled. Draft night comes, players 1-6 go off the board, and they pick some skinny talented kid with pretty good potential named player X. Player X has a solid start to his career, but has some injuries. Team A goes another few drafts of never getting the number one pick, but continues to find young talent. Player X bounces back from those said injuries and continues to work on his game every year, so much that the cat can make a shot from the locker room if it had a sight line to the basket.
Yes I’m talking Steph Curry and the Warriors.
That story could have easily been for many other players since the lottery was introduced. Could have been a story of Wade and the Heat, could have been about Dirk and the Mavs, could have been about Kobe and the Lakers, I could go on and on, but you get the point. A great organization that builds with a plan, and gives their draftees time to grow into the player they can be is more important than winning the lottery (unless we’re talking the state lottery, give me my 450 million any day over the chance to draft Ben Simmons). Hell, since the lottery was introduced the championship has only been won by 5 number one picks: Shaq, LeBron, Tim Duncan, David Robinson, and the one and only “Big Dog” Glenn Robinson.
Just like their classmates that are leaving school this month for the workplace, the upcoming draftees getting their foot in the door is the first step. Some will get a job with an important role right away, others will take some time to find their place, and others may get lost in the sauce altogether. At the end of the day number one is obtainable no matter if you start at 60 or you start at 2.