For months, regarding the team-by-team order within the 2012 NBA Draft, the hard line has been that the league would cross the bridge as it was approached. Today, with recent news that the league owners have arbitrarily applied a labor agreement deadline for Wednesday of this week, what was thought to have been a hypothetical is becoming more of a reality: there may not be a 2011-12 NBA season.
The Cavaliers, boasting two top-five rookies, may not get to suit up. The up-and-coming Thunder may not get to continue their ascent. The aging Boston Celtics and Los Angeles Lakers may be running out of time to repeat as league champions. But where would this leave all 30 teams come this summer when it comes time to convert amateurs to professionals? Would we get a repeat of last year’s order, or at least lottery odds? ESPN’s Ric Bucher provides some color on the matter, most of which is not good if you’re a fan of the Cavaliers.
“[The] likeliest NBA draft order formula if no season,” tweets Bucher, “three seasons aggregated for order, then lottery for worst 14 [teams]. Slightly weighted in other ways.”
A quick compilation of the records through the last three NBA seasons, two of which conveniently placing the Cavaliers at the very top with 60-plus wins, places the Wine and Gold 22nd among all teams with 146 wins and 100 losses.
Naturally, though the league is comprised of 30 teams, the narrative turns to that of the Cavaliers versus the Heat. In a shortened season, or one which would entertain years prior to the 19-win disaster of 2010-11, there is a possibility that the evil Heat could wind up with a better draft selection than the deserving Cavs. As penned at WFNY roughly one month ago (you know, pre-trend), the Cavaliers acquired the right to switch with the Heat in the event that such an atrocity would occur. The downside here is that the Heat, if we use the three-year aggregation, are slotted exactly one position behind Cleveland; both teams would be essentially grouped in with the Bulls, Blazers, Mavs and Spurs – the only problem is that one of these teams wouldn’t quite belong.
Sure, it would be quite stick-it-to-the-man if the Heat were to land a top-five pick and Dan Gilbert had the opportunity to waltz up to the hopper and scribble his name on the Miami placard. But in the event that the situation above comes in to play, the best hope that Cleveland could be looking at is a marginal move from, say, 22 to 15. Additional salt is added into the wounds when the Sacramento Kings slot in second within said weighted system, essentially rendering any chance at acquiring their lottery-protected pick, acquired in the JJ Hickson-Omri Casspi trade, usless at this stage.
As much as fans want to shove the entire labor impasse in the players faces, chanting verbage echoing apathy and preferring season cancelation so that millionaires have to wait another season before continuing to add to their bankroll, the best case scenario continues to be one of play. The sooner Kyrie Irving and Tristan Thompson can become acclimated with Byron Scott’s offense the better. The sooner the disagreement drops the “dis” and teams can populate their team-owned facilities, getting in shape and being under the tuilage of NBA training staffs, the better. And the sooner that these 30 teams can get back on the hardwood, fans in seats or not, allowing play to dictate next season’s draft order rather than a Google-like algorithm, the better.