Picks and Pans: Why Can't the NBA Draft Work Better?

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The NBA had a busy night last night. First, the Draft lottery was held. There are 30 teams in the league and 16 make the playoffs. Of those that don't make the playoffs, the ones with the worst records are put into the pool and chosen randomly to see in what order they'll get to pick.

In 2003 both LeBron James (Cleveland) #1 and Carmelo Anthony (Denver) #3 were in the same draft. LeBron, arguably the best player in the league, and Carmelo, who was a star at Syracuse and led them to a NCAA championship, have both guided their teams to the Conference championships and have legitimate chances of winning the title. And Dwyane Wade, another member of the same draft class, has already won an NBA ring with the Miami Heat. But where's the guy who got picked #2, between LeBron and Carmelo? Can you even name him? It's Darko Milicic, who isn't exactly burning up the court for the Memphis Grizzlies. ... (more)

Last night the Clippers were blessed, yet again, with the first overall pick in the draft — for all the good it's done them recently. The philosophical debate is whether you trade your pick for someone who could help you right away, or you grab someone who will waste a few years in L.A. and then move on. If you have a cure for the Clippers' Curse, please let me know!

And let's talk about the lottery itself. According to the projections, the Washington Wizards should have had the 2nd pick, but because of the lottery they ended up picking 5th. The team with the worst record, Sacramento, has the 4th pick. At least my favorites, the Knicks, are happily in 8th as projected. Should there be a lottery — or do you risk creating a situation where, at the end of the season, teams are trying to lose in order to ensure a higher pick? Play commissioner and say how you'd run the system.

A quick look at last night. Lakers coach Phil Jackson said that Kobe Bryant "muscled his way through this game." The Lakers beat the Nuggets 105-103. For the Nuggets it was only their 3rd loss of the playoffs and all have come by 2-point margins. The game featured the defensive skills of Trevor Ariza (a Knicks draft pick) who was #9 in the league in steals; he had a game-sealing steal in the final moments. The pass that he stole was thrown by the Nuggets' weak link, Anthony Carter — look to see how he fares in the rest of the series and if the Lakers can take advantage of his smaller stature and poor offensive game.

by Ibrahim Abdul-Matin

[Read Ibrahim's previous posting — including his prediction for the Finals — at http://www.thetakeaway.org/blogs/more/2009/may/18/five-keys-what-youll-see-nba-final-four/. ]

[Here's a quick recap of the Lakers/Nuggets game 1]