Can we believe in the purity of sport, or anything on which millions (billions?) of dollars ride? W can't, but we must. I have never been one to put any stock in the conspiracy theories. I want to believe the beauty of the competition on the court, field or pitch is the whole of it. But there are those moments...and Kings fans know some of them well.
Oddly, my theory is that this year a conspiracy works in our favor, so just for once...
Let's say, for the sake of argument, that the lottery is fixed on some level. Since it is for the sake of argument, all arguments are accepted, nyet, invited. How I see it follows, beginning with a weak effort at a legend:
MR = Must Reward (or $$ Invested)
NR = No Reward (or Not Again)
CRE = Cannot Reward Everyone
WC = Wild Card
Ordered inversely for more entertainment value:
Indiana Pacers - Larry Bird. Beautiful yet struggling new building in one of the three great basketball regions of the country (Kentucky, North Carolina). Good history and following. This is my wild card to displace the Wizards, or vice versa.
Oklahoma City Thunder - Vibrant new market. Exciting young players already in the fold.
Memphis Grizzlies - Some young studs in a questionable, middling market.
Toronto Raptors - A couple of great young players. Need to be motivated to re-sign existing stars.
New Jersey Nets - B team in the market. A couple of young studs.
Minnesota Timberwolves - Many opportunities. A young stud or two. If it was a more important market there would be more pressure to fill the KG semi-void.
Phoenix Suns - Only winning team in the lottery may not mean much given some history of the draft, but already there are three of the highest profile stars in the league. No playoffs? And recent management has been dismal.
Charlotte Bobcats - Ineptitude. ALWAYS, literally, in the lottery, even at the top of the lottery, with no results. Not particularly important market. Larry Brown and Michael Jordan. Great basketball region doesn't apply with the Heels and Devils right down the street and all of the brainlessness in play.
Golden State Warriors - Don Nelson and...need I say (read:dysfunction).
Los Angeles Clippers - .......need I say.
Milwaukee Bucks - Outpost. Recent top pick.
New York Knicks - Starless team in the most important market in the world, especially the NBA part of the world. New, very solid leadership that might have a clue what to do with a star or two. The league needs a sexy star here more than anywhere. Absolute Must Reward.
Washington Wizards - I don't know. Relatively important market. Really bad record looks good at top of draft. Default selection that created the need for the wild card category.
Sacramento Kings! - Worst record in the league. Big, recent NBA investment of various sorts. Recent darling of the casual fan and famously local popularity.
Now, I'm not a conspiracy theorist, but this year I want to be. My prediction, like it or not:
1. Kings - Griffin 2. Knicks - Rubio 3. Wizards - Thabeet
I have donned my helmet and cup, and eagerly anticipate my beating.