Busy schedule between lottery and NBA draft

Published May. 17, 2011 12:19 a.m. ET

The lottery is just the first step in a big final month leading up to the NBA draft. Here is the full calendar of major events:

May 17: Draft lottery

Long gone are the days when teams finished with the league's worst record and thought, "Well, at least we get the No. 1 pick." Instead, they have to light holy candles, pray and sweat it out, hoping the ping-pong balls don't take some sort of crazy bounce. Unfortunately for those who finish with lousy records, they often do -- as the worst team wins the lottery about as often as Monta Ellis looks for an open teammate.

When it comes to the lottery, there are two schools of thought around the league:

1. What difference does it make if a crummy team wants to tank games at the end of the season to get the top pick? Seriously, they stink, so what's the difference? And let's face it, non-playoff teams often tank games (pull starters, create phantom injuries to star players, etc.) to improve their lottery odds, anyway.

2. The lottery is good for the NBA because unlike the NFL or baseball, one player can completely alter the course of your franchise. So losing on purpose would be a considerably bigger deal here than other leagues.

Regardless of which camp you're in, one thing is certain: The draft lottery has become a glorified event that commissioner David Stern and the networks turned into must-see TV. It is here to stay.

May 18-22: Chicago pre-draft camp

All you need to know about Chicago is there were concerns in 2007 that Kevin Durant couldn't bench press enough weight.

Basically, it has become an over-hyped waste of time, as it's really nothing more than pro basketball's version of a visit to the school nurse. Top prospects were once forced to play in real live games, against each other, weeding out the overrated and allowing unknowns to emerge.

Nowadays, they are measured every which way imaginable (wingspan, reach, speed, agility), with little regard given to whether they can actually dribble a basketball against other potential NBA players.

Still, this is considered the biggie, as nearly all general managers, coaches and scouts are in attendance. But instead of rolling out a ball and letting guys go at it, they casually observe workouts and laugh while they float smokescreens to all those draft websites run by college kids.

OK, it's not quite that meaningless, but it's not far off, either. Consider that players are measured without their shoes in Chicago. As former Cavaliers GM Wayne Embry once pointed out, such a measurement will really be helpful in the event basketball becomes a game played only in socks.

May 23-24: Minnesota group workout

The previous group workout took place earlier this month in New Jersey and was labeled a dud. But most GMs seem to feel this one could be valuable, with 40 prospects expected to attend. Many of those prospects will be considered potential (or definite) first-rounders, and actually have to spend some time playing against other potential (or definite) first-rounders.

The Minnesota group workout isn't as highly regarded as Chicago, but it's probably as telling, maybe more. If nothing else, at least you might be able to discover who can do more than just dunk.

June 11-13: Eurocamp in Treviso, Italy

The European version of the Chicago camp, where nearly every top international prospect is put through a battery of tests. Expected to be in attendance: Enes Kanter, Jonas Valanciunas, Jan Vesely, Bismack Biyombo and Donatas Motiejunas.

All are possible lottery picks, and the purpose of this camp is to help discover whether guys are more Dirk Nowitzki or Nikoloz Tskitishvili, or somewhere in between.

Or in the case of Biyombo, whether they can at least catch a pass. According to rumor, that's still up in the air when it comes to the extremely raw Congo native.

Present-June 22: Individual workouts

This is the most vital aspect of gauging talent, with teams able to bring in top prospects who are projected to be available within their draft range.

Team execs not only get an up-close look at individual skills sets, but evaluate prospects for things such as personality and work ethic.

Then comes the June 23 draft, and despite all the pre-draft testing, teams always have and always will miss on guys. But on the bright side, they always have and always will find gems late in the first round and beyond.

In other words, the draft is an inexact science that consists of a lot of hubbub beforehand, which may or may not tell us who can actually contribute at the NBA level, and how much.

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