Red Right 88

In Cleveland, hope dies last

Do the Cavs have any luck left?

nerlens noel draft lotteryWhile there is no one “correct” way to build a championship-caliber team in the NBA, there is one element that all title-winning teams have in common: the element of luck.

If Portland had drafted Michael Jordan instead of Sam Bowie, the Chicago Bulls would not have won six titles. If Jordan hadn’t been suspended (oops, “decided to play baseball”), Houston would not have two championship banners hanging in their arena. If David Robinson doesn’t miss all but six games in the 1996-97 season, the San Antonio Spurs are probably not in a position to draft Tim Duncan in the 1997 NBA Draft.

Well, you get the point. And that brings us to the Cleveland Cavaliers and tonight’s NBA Draft lottery.

For a team and a town where good luck is in short supply, the Cavs have been lucky when they needed to be in the draft lottery. In 2003, when LeBron James was the top pick, the Cavs won the top slot. A year after James left, Lady Luck smiled on the team again, bringing Kyrie Irving to town.

The Cavs have a 15.6 percent chance of winning tonight’s lottery, the third best chance among the lottery teams. In the past 19 draft lotteries the team with the third-best odds has landed the top overall pick five times, making that slot the most successful lottery position, according to Jason Lloyd in The Beacon Journal. (You certainly are not going to find those kind of odds in the downtown Horseshoe Casino).

If the Cavs can pull off one more surprise tonight they would be in a position to possibly draft Kentucky’s Nerlens Noel, who would look pretty good in Mike Brown’s defense, and possibly throw the three-year rebuilding process, which has brought with it 166 losses, into a higher gear.

Even if they don’t land the top pick through the lottery the Cavs may be able to make some moves. They own four picks in this year’s draft – their lottery pick plus Nos. 19, 31 and 33 – in a draft that has some GMs already covering their asses by claiming is “weak”, the team could package those picks to move up.

Can the Cavs get lucky one more time and make this there last lottery appearance for a while? We will start to find out tonight.

(Photo by Sports Illustrated)

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