Tonight marks the NBA Draft Lottery and basketball fans everywhere are clamoring for their favorite bad team to get the top spot in June’s draft. The lottery is a spectacle in of itself, but it is a unique event that gives competitive balance a whole new spin.
Doing some research at www.nba.com, we can track how this current system came into place. Read up on that below, but the sheer fact of the matter is that only three times in the current weight lottery system has the actual worst team in the NBA received the top pick in the draft.
The NBA is a top-heavy league. Stars dominate the league unlike baseball, football, soccer or hockey because there are only five players on the court at each time for each team. While an Albert Pujols or Peyton Manning can change the game in other sports, their sole impact is nothing compared to a Michael Jordan or Shaquille O’Neal.
The current system is a mesh of ping pong balls, scattered probabilities and a fool’s gold representation of fairness in professional sports. The reason the NBA gave for switching to the lottery system was because teams supposedly tanked at the end of the season for better draft position.
Heading into my senior year, I’m beginning my research for my University of Dayton honors thesis. This project covers the success and profitability of minor league baseball franchises, and around my overseas travels, my plans are to visit 10 organizations for in-person interviews with their front offices.
My journeys began with a short drive down south to Columbus, Ohio. The Clippers were extremely gracious hosts - led by media relations/historian stalwart Joe Santry - and I was able to sit down with several members of the front office during the afternoon.
Some interesting tidbits from my visit to Columbus were to consider the impact of early season home scheduling on attendance. In 2009, when the Clippers first began playing at their sparkling new Huntington Park downtown in the Arena District, the team only had nine of its first 28 games at home. The squad averaged nearly 9,000 fans for those games including four sellouts en route to leading MiLB with an average of 9,526 fans per game in ‘09.
Then last season, the Clippers’ attendance dropped by more than six percent. What was the reason for this sudden change? Ken Schnacke, president and general manager, and Mark Galuska, director of marketing and sales, both pointed to the International League’s April scheduling.
I’ve already served as the bad cop on this team, and now I’m switching roles just a little bit. The first-quarter mark of the 2011 MLB season is approaching, and that means it is a fun analysis point for fans of the Cleveland Indians.
The Tribe currently has a 23-13 record, still best in the American League despite back-to-back losses this week to the AL East-leading Tampa Bay Rays. So if you are one of those typical Northeast Ohio sports pessimists, what can you expect as the floor for the rest of the season?
In order to answer that question, I looked at cherry-picked samples over the past 10 years. I tried to find teams that specifically got off to hot starts similarly to the Indians, marked them at their peak and then plotted their descent.
The results prove that it’s a near guarantee the Indians will win at least 75 games this season, no matter what. More likely than not however, this is a team that will finish somewhere in the 81-87 range by the end of the year.
While enjoying the Columbus Clippers game on Tuesday, May 10, I had to record this gem. Not as violent as the creamstick race back with my hometown Akron Aeros, but this was still pretty impressive.