March Madness: Further Evidence the 2013 NBA Draft Is Going to Be Terrible

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Photo by Groovehouse
In terms of the 2013 NBA Draft, Rocket fans are thanking the Lord for James Harden.
When it comes to rebuilding a professional sports team, the ultimate sign of the desperate fan is to take one possible outcome that has worked for a few teams before, apply it as gospel and then shout from the rooftops that "[fill in name of favorite team here] needs to [do that thing that's worked for some other team]!!"

Next, the desperate fan takes to talk radio with phone call after idiotic phone call saying that his team "HAS TO DO THIS!!!" (Tearfully crying, "It's the ONLY WAY!!" is optional.)

This brings me to the NBA Draft.

By and large, everyone is in agreement that you need at least one, if not two, elite-level superstar players to compete for an NBA championship. How you acquire these players becomes the puzzle, but one method thought to be conventionally simple (because, you know, other teams have done it in certain years recently) but that in actuality is a road fraught with disaster, is to bottom out and ensure your team a high lottery pick.

Basically, the plan looks like this:

1. Tank the season.
2. Have the plentiful lottery pingpong balls with your teams logo on them bounce your way after the season.
3. Select franchise-changing star in the draft.
4. Compete for NBA titles.

There are so many things wrong with the sequence of events listed above that it angers me even more to think that presumably employed, seemingly productive human beings think this is an appropriate course to chart for an NBA franchise.

I could talk about the integrity issues of losing games quasi-"on purpose." I could talk about the very top of the draft really only producing one superstar who won a title for the team that drafted him since just before the turn of the century (Tim Duncan, drafted in 1997). I could talk about the fact that, even with the worst record in the league, there's a better chance of winding up with the fourth pick in the draft than the first pick.

And someday maybe I will talk about all of those things. But to me the biggest flaw in "just tank and get a high lottery pick" guy's plan is that even if you do win the NBA lottery, you might (hell, you likely will) be winning it in a year that the franchise-changing superstar either doesn't exist or isn't readily apparent until after he gets into the league.

It appears 2013 is one of those years, and if you need any further proof, hopefully you checked out the first weekend of March Madness. Granted, it's a very small sliver of the sample space of a player's collegiate career, but it's the most important sliver -- single elimination games (basically a Game 7 each time out) against an increasingly difficult level of competition as the tournament wears on.

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