At 8:30 pm on May 16th, 2017 the 2017 NBA draft lottery was held. Futures were determined, dreams were granted, and championships were guaranteed.
Boston Celtics and Los Angeles Lakers Lottery Outlook
The Eastern Conference #1 seed and finalist Boston Celtics now are also blessed with the option of making the number one pick in the 2017 NBA Draft. The Boston Celtics. The Celtics have won 17 NBA titles with the opportunity to add number 18 this season.
The number two pick goes to the Los Angeles Lakers, who have 16 titles. They do not have any hope of winning a title this year, which could have been said several months ago. 33 out of 69 titles have gone to either one or the other. This draft they will have different needs, but they may be drafting with the same thought in mind. We will touch on that later.
NBA Lottery History
A quick NBA draft lottery history lesson may explain things. The NBA, in reaction to those that believe the Houston Rockets gave less than a supreme effort at the end of the 1983-1984 season in order to secure the number one pick, instituted the lottery system in 1985. The Knicks used that pick to select then Georgetown center and current Georgetown coach Patrick Ewing. Ewing had a Hall of Fame career, but did not produce a title for the Knicks.
The next year, the Cleveland Cavaliers parlayed a trade with the Philadelphia 76’ers, and in essence swapped Roy Hinson for North Carolina center Brad Daugherty. Nice career, no title. 1987 brought the first choice to the San Antonio Spurs. They chose David Robinson from the Naval Academy. They waited for two years for him to get there, but he helped bring two rings to Texas (1993 and 2003).
To limit our word count, we’ll jump to 1997 when the Spurs, after a sub par season which saw little production from an injured Robinson, drafted Tim Duncan out of Wake Forest. San Antonio won titles with Duncan in 2003, 2005, 2007, and 2014.
Then the Cleveland Cavaliers used their third number one pick in the lottery era to select guard Kyrie Irving from Duke. The Cavs went on to win it all in 2016. That’s it. Three times the number one overall pick has won a title with the team with which he was originally drafted.
Lottery Pick Leads to Championship Success?
Furthermore, only four other overall number one’s have won a ring with another team.
- Shaquille O’Neal (1992/Orlando) with the Los Angeles Lakers (2000, 2001, 2002) and Miami Heat (2006)
- Glenn Robinson (1994/Milwaukee) with the San Antonio Spurs (2005)
- LeBron James (2003/Cleveland Cavaliers) with the Miami Heat (2012,2013) and Cleveland (2016)
- Andrew Bogut (2005/Milwaukee Bucks) with the Golden State Warriors (2015)
31 seasons have been played since the first lottery, and 16 titles have been won by seven players. But surely there is more value throughout the rest of the lottery. If your team is drafting in the lottery they are selecting the next generation of superstars, right? Ten more players have won rings with the team that originally drafted them. Thirteen, if you include Scottie Pippen, Kobe Bryant, and Dirk Nowitzki, who were drafted by other teams, but immediately traded on draft day.
- 1989 Sean Elliott/#3/San Antonio Spurs
- 1989 Stacey King/#6/Chicago Bulls
- 1992 Robert Horry/#10/Houston Rockets
- 1998 Paul Pierce/#10/Boston Celtics
- 2003 Darko Millicic/#2/Detroit Pistons
- 2003 Dwyane Wade/#5/Miami Heat
- 2005 Andrew Bynum/#10/Los Angeles Lakers
- 2009 Stephen Curry/#7/Golden State Warriors
- 2011 Tristan Thompson/#4/Cleveland Cavaliers
- 2011 Klay Thompson/#11/Golden State Warriors
- 2012 Harrison Barnes/#7/Golden State Warriors
- 1987 Scottie Pippen/#5/Chicago Bulls via Seattle Supersonics
- 1996 Kobe Bryant/#13/Los Angeles Lakers via Charlotte Hornets
- 1998 Dirk Nowitzki/#9/Dallas Mavericks via Milwaukee Bucks
Now this information is not to suggest that being a lottery pick will not bring a team success. It is simply suggesting that the picks success will more than likely come somewhere else. Gary Payton, drafted #2, by Seattle in 1990 won a ring with the Lakers. Rasheed Wallace, Corliss Williamson, Chauncey Billups, and Richard Hamilton won in Detroit. Lindsay Hunter left Detroit then came back to win.
Fans believe that a lottery selection is the road to the promised land and it can be. Golden State parlayed the selections of Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, and Harrison Barnes in to a title in 2015, and the Cavaliers with Kyrie Irving and Tristan Thompson in 2016. However these seem to be the exceptions. The Philadelphia 76er’s have had multiple lottery picks lately as have the Milwaukee Bucks. Whose process do you trust at the moment?
Boston’s Draft Plan
For completely different reasons the Celtics and Lakers should do the same thing: trade their pick for a veteran player. For the Celtics it’s simple. They will finish this season at worst as Eastern Conference finalists, at best as world champions. The future is now. Their roster is stocked with players in their prime. If a team is in pursuit of a title that is within its grasp, or better yet defending one, whom would you choose to go to battle? Should it be a college sophomore like Fultz or Ball, or someone with experience and grit like Paul George or Jimmy Butler? Danny Ainge should be on the phone right now. Call the Pacers and rent Paul George for a year. Swap the #1 for him and the Pacers pick at #18. Mock drafts have Duke’s Luke Kinnard being slotted in that spot. He would be a good fit for them and wouldn’t have to produce right away.
What About the Lakers?
The Lakers also would benefit from a veteran presence. New boss Magic Johnson should know the steadying influence Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Jamaal Wilkes, to name a few, had in the early years as he, Byron Scott, and James Worthy became key contributors to the Lakers roll. One more young gun will not get them over the hump. Head Coach Luke Walton needs to implement some sort of system now and he needs a veteran to work with. Who do all of these young studs learn from? Not just the basketball stuff, but how to survive the NBA grind.
The Lakers also have to see if they have wasted picks on previous players. Lonzo Ball will need the rock. What does that mean for D’Angelo Russell? If his days are numbered, package him with the #2 for Paul George. There should still be a competent, pass first point guard available with the Pacers pick. If Russell is not expendable, then pairing him with George should benefit all.
Go back to the mid nineties Dallas Mavericks. At one time they had a young Jamal Mashburn, Jimmy Jackson, and Jason Kidd. Three very good players that played better when they had the ball. Not selfish, but ball dominators. A nucleus that should have reaped high benefits. It didn’t. Another young gun is not what the Lakers need unless they are getting a once in a generation, transcendent player, which they aren’t.
The numbers stand for themselves. Seventeen lottery selections have won a title in their first go round with their original team. Twenty six have been added to championship rosters later. Trade for a veteran, sign a free agent, add a spare part from the D-League, whatever. But as the players get even younger, it becomes even more increasingly difficult to win with youth in the NBA.
LOS ANGELES, USA – APRIL 6: D’Angelo Russell of Los Angeles Lakers gestures during the NBA match between Los Angeles Clippers and Los Angeles Lakers at Staples Center, in Los Angeles, USA on April 6, 2016.
(Photo by Mintaha Neslihan Eroglu/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)