Tonight is the NBA Draft Lottery. You know, that night where fans of the 14 teams that didn’t make the NBA Playoffs join forces to form one conglomerate of emotional combustion. Normally, one of three things happens for your squad. They either stay right where they are in the draft order, vault into the Top 3, or see their pick fall by three spots at worst. Normally. Such is not the case this year for fans of the Miami Heat. Heat fans, of which I am one, have the potential tonight for extreme jubilation, relieved anticipation, or complete disaster. You see, as part of that LeBron trade in 2010, the Heat sent Cleveland a boatload of picks, (something they didn’t get in return last summer, thanks Bron.) One of the picks that hasn’t exchanged hands yet, which Philly now owns, is due to do so in this year’s draft, unless the Heat wind up with a pick in the Top 10 (in which case the pick would revert to next year and be unprotected.) Given that the Heat finished right in the 10 slot for the lottery, tonight is full of intrigue and drama.
Because of countless injuries to key players, bad breaks and nearly fatal blood clots in both lungs of the team’s best player, the Heat had a dreadful season given the franchise’s standards. However, with the additions of Hassan Whiteside and Goran Dragic during the season, Chris Bosh and Josh McRoberts coming back, and a 5-month off-season for the rest of the team to heal, the Heat expect a return to the top of the Eastern Conference next year. Adding a top-10 talent could ease a little of this past season’s pain while at the same time give Miami a skilled young player to add to their bench. Or disaster could strike, and the Heat could wind up out of the first round all together. For Heat fans, it’s kind of like being a kid at Christmas. More specifically, a kid at Christmas who wasn’t on his best behavior over the past year.
There is a 4% chance the Heat strike it rich in the lottery and move into the Top 3 of this year’s draft. It feels like that pie-in-the-sky situation of getting the one big, shiny, huge, expensive top-of-the-line toy for Christmas that only the rich kids with rich parents who have acted good all year-long get, and let’s face it, none of that applies to you. Sure, Towns, Okafor, Winslow or Russell would be an amazing gift to find under your tree. Yes, you’d be able to show it off to all your envious friends. Don’t get your hopes up though, as Ma and Pa will probably save this gift for a year they didn’t receive twenty-some-odd calls from the principal’s office. While there’s still a small chance you get the biggest reward when you least expect it, pining for it to happen leaves you at great risk for disappointment.
The most likely scenario (87% likely, in fact) is that the Heat stay at pick number 10 and are able to add a solid piece to their rotation. The Heat need a wing player, 3-point shooting, and an infusion of energy and talent to their bench. While this year’s draft isn’t perceived by experts to be extremely deep, the top half of the first round can definitely be classified as such. This result tonight, for Heat fans, would feel like the consolation present on your Christmas wish list as a kid. Your grades weren’t that high, you talked back too much and didn’t take the dog out on enough walks. But you’re still a good kid, your parents still love you, and they want to give you something that you want, or lets face it, NEED. It’s encouragement enough for you to straighten up a bit and puts a smile on your face. While it’s not the illustriously exquisite gift you sheepishly asked your parents for, it’s still a versatile addition to your stable of toys.
The doomsday scenario has a 9% chance of playing out for Heat fans. This would entail Miami dropping back to draft positions 11, 12 or 13, which would be disastrous given that the pick is only top-10 protected. The pick would immediately shift to the Sixers as a result of their trade with the Cavs last October, and meltdowns would ensue throughout #HeatNation. After a year that saw every possible thing that could go wrong ACTUALLY go wrong for Miami, they now wouldn’t have a top-10 pick to play with. This would be the rotten cherry on top of Miami’s rancid season, and would feel like coal under the tree. This would feel like asking for a big-boy BB gun and getting a squirt gun on Christmas morn. This would be pining for a new ten-speed bike and instead getting a hot wheel. This would be asking for a drum set and instead getting a triangle. This would be absolute disaster. The Heat wouldn’t have a pick until their second-round selection came around at #40, and the player they would take in that slot wouldn’t be any kid of difference maker for the 2015/16 campaign. While they will still have a full year of Whiteside/Dragic to look forward to, a bench difference maker wouldn’t be attainable in the draft, and that would be really, really bad. It would square away the debt the Heat owe Cleveland/Philly, but the end result would be giving away this year’s top-10 pick instead of next year’s pick in the twenties. No bueno.
Heat fans have had a bad year. A no-good, little-fun, very bad basketball year. Tonight can either send them into sheer ecstasy, be completely acceptable and profitable, or be the worst thing to happen to them all year long. 8:30 can’t come soon enough.