If the season continues on July 31st, and everything goes according to plan, the draft lottery will happen on August 25th, and the draft will be held on Oct. 15. The draft is a wild ride as is, and with the combination of a weak draft class and a different schedule, we can throw all prior knowledge out the window.
To remind you, teams already in the lottery (and their odds of winning it) are the Warriors (14%), Cavs (14%), Timberwolves (14%), Hawks (12.5%), Pistons (10.5%), Knicks (9%), Bulls (7.5%) and Hornets (6%). If the new lottery odds weren’t enough, predicting the draft is even harder this year because no-one seems to appear about who the best players are. Scouts and draft analysts agree about one thing - it’s not likely you’ll find a franchise guy in this year’s draft.
All these factors make the draft stressful and hard for front offices, possibly very entertaining for us. With so much volatility in the draft, there’s a lot of potential for draft-day trades and ridiculous choices. A good preview would be the 2005 draft. The early 2000s weren’t the best in terms of front office decision-making, and the ’05 draft paints that picture perfectly. Let’s just start with the fact the Orlando Magic drafted Fran Vazquez with the 11th pick. Fran Vazquez didn’t play a single NBA game in his career.
But there is another story from 2005 that teaches us what to expect. The Raptors had picked Charlie Villanueva, a 6-11 power forward, with the 7th pick despite having FIVE CENTERS (Araujo, Bonner, Sow, Williams, Woods) and Chris Bosh on the roster. They had another chance to diversify their roster at 16, and with Danny Granger on the board, everyone expected them to select the wing from New Mexico.
Selecting at 17 and 18 were Indiana and Boston, respectively. Former teammates Larry Bird (Indiana) and Danny Ainge (Boston) were on the phone working on a potential trade. Both teams assumed Toronto is taking Graner, and the Celtics tried to move up to make sure they get Gerald Green. While on the phone, both executives saw Toronto selected Joey Graham. Larry Bird started laughing and ended the call by saying:
“I gotta go, we just got Danny Granger.”
We don’t have as many crazy front offices anymore, but the volatility of this year’s draft and lack of clear prospect rankings could align the stars for moments like these. One team could have a guy in their top 10; another may not have him in the first round. Weirdly, all these factors make this year’s draft must-watch TV.