NBA followers obsessed with the most easily imagined form of roster upgrading have staggered their way to Draft Lottery Eve.
So, with the Ping-Pong balls warming up, do you know where your team is?
If you’re a fan of the Phoenix Suns, you probably know that your team enters Tuesday’s talent-acquisition-positioning party as the fourth overall seed. The Suns are rolling in on the battered wings of the second-worst season in team history, and they are offering president of basketball operations Lon Babby as the TV face of the franchise at the actual event in New York.
With Kentucky center Nerlens Noel and Kansas guard Ben McLemore looming as possible choices with the first pick, perhaps Babby will attempt to manufacture some good fortune Monday night by retiring to his room at 11:09 p.m. At fourth in the Ping-Pong pecking order, the Suns have an 11.9 percent chance of rising to No. 1.
But if they end up at four, a quartet of national draft-oriented websites predict they’ll select a player from Indiana. Three of these mock drafts put Hoosiers junior shooting guard Victor Oladipo in Phoenix; the fourth has the local team selecting Hoosiers sophomore center Cody Zeller, younger brother of former Suns big Luke Zeller.
Unfortunately, some numbers dragged into focus over 29 years of lottery drama tell us the Suns have a 52 percent chance of dropping to the fifth, sixth or seventh position.
The odds of rising into the top three – or at least remaining at four – are 48 percent.
Wait, so all of that losing, the struggles without Marcin Gortat, the Michael Beasley hayride and the Goran Dragic rest-and-relaxation interlude may be rewarded with a pick outside the top four?
Well, even if that occurs, there’s hope.
Many Suns fans not exactly convinced that previous general manager Lance Blanks struck gold with draft picks Markieff Morris and Kendall Marshall believe in the talent-judging powers of new GM Ryan McDonough. And if most of these mock drafts are anywhere near accurate, a player or two — or maybe a dozen — capable of boosting the Suns’ on-court fortunes will be on the board whenever they choose.
For solace, please note that this season’s Rookie of the Year – Portland Trail Blazers point guard Damian Lillard – was taken with the sixth selection last June. Harrison Barnes, who looked like a legitimate hotshot in the making during the Golden State Warriors’ playoff run, was seventh. Rising (and rising) Detroit Pistons center Andre Drummond wasn’t a goner until the ninth pick.
This suggests that whatever happens Tuesday night, it’s not all bad. For that matter, even if the Suns move higher, there’s no guarantee they’re immune to making the wrong choice.
Suns fans are just hoping that in McDonough, Babby already has made the best pick the franchise could make this year.