Berry Tramel

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Thunder drama: Re-figuring the lottery odds

by Berry Tramel Modified: March 27, 2013 at 2:41 pm •  Published: May 20, 2009

For a minute or two, you allowed yourself to believe that the Thunder might actually win the NBA draft lottery. We were down to three teams — the Clippers, Grizzlies and Thunder — and you had to re-configure the odds, though the actual winner had been decided in secret before the lottery show.

Oklahoma City no longer had an 11.7 percent chance of winning the lottery. When Phoenix went out first, that percentage rose a fraction. Then the Pacers, the Bobcats and so on.

Finally, we were down to the final three, and OKC’s odds had shot up to 32 percent in the minds of everyone who didn’t know the results, which was only a handful of people in that secured room.

A one-in-three chance to get Blake Griffin. At that point, the Clippers had a 47.7 percent chance; the Grizzlies 20.2 percent.

Those are odds you can live with. Of course, the Thunder’s luck ran out, and it was handed the No. 3 pick in the June draft. Griffin will not be coming to OKC, barring cataclysmic events.

The lottery worked, reasonably well. The lottery exists so that teams won’t tank the season. Won’t give up early and try to lose often, just to secure the No. 1 draft pick.

The Clippers did a little of that. They don’t have a great roster, and they had some injuries, but no way should the Clippers have checked in with fewer than 30 wins, much less 19.

The Wizards were worse. Washington lost Gilbert Arenas and basically quit playing. It would have been a crime had the Wizards received the No. 1 pick. The primary difference on the fairness scale in this lottery is that the Wizards would have used the pick to become a force in the Eastern Conference. The Clippers will use it and stay irrelevant in the NBA hierarchy, as they’ve been for most of the last 30 years.

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by Berry Tramel
Columnist
Berry Tramel, a lifelong Oklahoman, sports fan and newspaper reader, joined The Oklahoman in 1991 and has served as beat writer, assistant sports editor, sports editor and columnist. Tramel grew up reading four daily newspapers — The Oklahoman,...
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