Bobcats hope draft lottery answers a cry for help
NEW YORK—After the worst season in NBA history, the Charlotte Bobcats could use a player such as Anthony Davis.
Unfortunately for Michael Jordan's team, it's been a long time since lottery luck shined on the team needing it most.
The Bobcats hope that trend ends Wednesday, when they have the best odds of earning the No. 1 pick in next month's draft.
Charlotte has a 25 percent chance of victory, the reward for its 7-59 record that was the lowest winning percentage (.106) in league history. Davis is the college player of the year after leading Kentucky to the national championship. He is considered the top prize available.
Not since 2004, when the Orlando Magic drafted Dwight Howard, has the team with the worst record won the lottery. Minnesota dropped a spot to second last year, when the Cleveland Cavaliers moved up with a pick owed to them by the Los Angeles Clippers and took Rookie of the Year Kyrie Irving.
The Bobcats, who dropped their final 23 games, appear in much more dire straits than some teams that were able to recover from their lottery letdowns.
"You could make the case that they don't have, at any position, a top-15 player at their position. So they're not in the top half of starters at any place on their roster, which is a tough place to be and that's why a guy like Anthony Davis, if they do draft him, he's going to be expected to turn it around. But there are no quick fixes," former NBA coach and current ESPN analyst Jeff Van Gundy said Tuesday during a conference call.
The Washington Wizards have a 19.9 percent chance of picking first, while Cleveland (13.8 percent) and New Orleans (13.7) have the next-best chances.
The lottery is back in New York for the first time since 1993, moving to the Disney/ABC Times Square Studio from its longtime home in Secaucus, N.J. because the NBA Entertainment facility there no longer houses a television studio.
Maybe that's a good omen for the Nets, who are also going from New Jersey to New York. The now Brooklyn Nets have a 7.5 percent chance of moving up from the No. 6 spot to land the top pick, and if they don't end up in the top three their selection goes to Portland as part of this season's Gerald Wallace trade.
The Nets are one of the recent teams that came up empty after a dismal season, settling for the No. 3 pick two years ago after a 70-loss season. Though there are occasional complaints about the format, NBA Commissioner David Stern has said there's been little call to change it.
Donnie Nelson, the president of basketball operations and general manager of the Dallas Mavericks, believes that's a good thing.
"I think the system works pretty well," Nelson said. "The problem you run into if you do away with it is there's the potential for teams tanking games at the end of the season and that can get kind of ugly. That's not a path you want to go down."
Van Gundy, like many, thinks the lottery is a way to police teams from trying to lose in hopes of securing the No. 1 pick and even argued for dropping the weighted system that gives the Bobcats 250 out of 1,000 chances, taking away even more incentive to lose. Though he said the team played hard, he used the word "tanking" Tuesday, essentially accusing Jordan's organization of not trying to win this season.
"They have, I think, a very poor roster by design," he said. "I think they are trying to do what most people in the front office would agree with how they're doing it. Get bad to try to get good. People have done it before. San Antonio Spurs, I think it was 18 wins when David Robinson was hurt and they got Tim Duncan (in 1997) and for 15 years they've been just phenomenal. So what they're doing I think goes to what most people in the NBA would do, but it's by design."
The Cavaliers are hoping lightning strikes twice.
Last year, owner Dan Gilbert's 15-year-old son, Nick, proved to be a lucky charm when he represented the team at the drawing in New Jersey. The young Gilbert, wearing hipster glasses and a bow tie, endeared himself to Cleveland fans after the team won the lottery by looking into the camera and saying, "What's not to like?" a catchphrase that helped the city get over the loss of LeBron James.
The Cavs are sending Nick again along with the same traveling party that brought the team luck a year ago.
His dad recently joked that his son better bring home a winner.
"If he doesn't get the first pick, he will be grounded all summer," Gilbert joked. "This is a very important draft for us. We hope to add some key pieces this summer."
Irving also will attend the lottery along with the Gilberts, former Browns quarterback Bernie Kosar and current Browns players Josh Cribbs and Joe Haden.
General manager Rich Cho will be on stage for the Bobcats, whose odds are best (35.8 percent) of picking fourth. The lottery sets the top three picks, with the remainder of the 14 participants drafting in inverse order of their records.
The draft is June 28 in Newark, N.J.
AP Sports Writer Tom Withers in Cleveland contributed to this report.
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