Round and round the ping pong balls go, how they’ll fall, nobody knows. This is the best way to describe the lead up to the NBA draft lottery — the event where we learn the official order of the first 14 picks of the upcoming draft. If you’re a team at the bottom of the barrel, one lucky bounce has the power to change the fate of the organization for years to come. On the flip side, if the balls don’t go your way, you can expect to be right back in the same position come the following year. And that in a word, is depressing.
In 2016, just as it always does, the draft lottery came and went in a blink of an eye. For the first time in history, the lottery, itself, stayed true to the form of the overall NBA standings. And that was a good thing — for some teams, anyways. For others, it meant that the dream of landing at the top of “draft mountain” was officially dead. And unlike years past, if you wanted to call the evening a success, that’s exactly where you needed to be.
Years from now, when we’re finally in a position to truly evaluate the 2016 class, it wouldn’t surprise us if a handful of players from this draft turned out to be impact players. But until that time comes, here’s one thing we do know: This particular lottery can be broken down into two groups, those who finished with the first and second picks, and everyone else.
Barring any unforeseen circumstances, LSU’s Ben Simmons and Duke’s Brandon Ingram will be the top two selections in the 2016 draft. People can debate the order all they want, but it’s the Philadelphia 76ers, one of the night’s two winners and the club that came away with the No. 1 overall pick, that will be dictating things from this point on. And they have a tough decision to make.
Do they go with Simmons, the 6-foot-10 point-forward with the NBA-ready body, crazy handle, and insane floor vision, or do they take a chance on the Ingram, the lanky small forward with the massive 7-foot-3 wingspan and the silky smooth jumper? For the first time since The Process was implemented, Philly finally controls its own destiny. And that has to be a good feeling. Of course, in this particular case, there’s nothing wrong with being No. 2.
This is where the Los Angeles Lakers come into play. Like those in Oklahoma City once learned, sometimes it’s better to fall into the second position. Either way you’re going to come away with a possible franchise-altering player. You just have to choose the guy who’s still left on the board. It’s almost too easy.
The NBA is a star-driven league. Without a game changer on the roster, your organization is going nowhere fast. The common feeling is that the 2016 draft class features two individuals who organizations can build a team around. One, if he manages to develop a jumper, has the potential to be a transcendent player (we’re looking at you, Simmons). The balls fell, and the Sixers and Lakers came away No. 1 and No. 2. They won the night. Everyone else, better luck next time.