The 2011 NBA Draft Lottery arrives at 5:30 p.m. Pacific on Tuesday. I'd like to think I understand the pulse of Sacramento Kings fans to some degree, and there's simply no question that the run-up to this lotto has been a bit more muted than previous ones. A huge, huge, elephant-on-the-futon part of that is the franchise's tenuous position; we just found out two weeks ago that we will have a team to watch live next season (barring a lockout). That's no small thing. Hard to get excited about a renovation if you might lose your house, nahmean?
So we have a team. We're still less than ebullient about this. Why? My working theory is that we've been beaten two straight years in this thing. Beaten hard. Never underestimate the psychological damage that 2009 disaster did; we suffered through a completely awful season (17 wins! that's Wolves bad!) and fell as far as we freaking could in the lottery. To fourth in a two-player draft. That's no small thing. A year later, another rough season? We fell two spots, to fifth in a four-player draft.
We're sick and tired of wolf tickets, man.
But here's the thing: 2009 wasn't a two-player draft. It was a ... five-, six-player draft? We ended up with the Rookie of the Year, and maybe the second-best player. (We'll see.) We fell hard on lottery night, but we survived. We thrived. Sure, Blake Griffin would have been just lovely. But Tyreke Evans is pretty freaking good. And we got him, because the Grizzlies didn't know what they were missing, and because the Thunder had their star guards.
2010 was indeed a four-player draft (with Greg Monroe looking like a worthy No. 5, frankly). But David Kahn owned one of those four picks. Which means it was a four-player draft in which one of the top four players was likely going to get to No. 5. And so he did. Kahn took Wes Johnson, we landed DeMarcus Cousins.
Is that fortuitous? Yup. Was it unlucky to fall to No. 5 in the first place? Yup. Was Memphis' Hasheem Thabeet pick in 2009 fortuitous? Hell yeah. Was it unlucky to fall to No. 4 in the first place? Yes. So remember that should the Kings hit No. 3 or No. 4 or No. 5 or No. 6 or even No. 7, this is just half of the story. This simply set the stakes for June. In the marathon that is the NBA Draft, this is the opening 10K. The race will be won in the long 20 miles to come. Bunker down, breathe easy and chillax.
(Standard playoff thread at 2. Lotto thread at 5. Reaction after. Prada and I are previewing every lottery team's stakes at the mothership.)