The NBA Draft Lottery is Tuesday (), and as always, teams are superstitious as all get out. Watch parties, lucky charms, good-fortune totems as their representatives, there's a whole lot of pleading to the basketball gods going on between now and 8 p.m. ET Tuesday. Fortunes of teams, players, coaches and executives can hinge on the bounce of those ping pong balls in a locked room in Secaucus, New Jersey.
But, of course, there's the question of who will win, and there's another question.
Who 'should' win?
Who's most deserving? Bill Simmons put out an edition of the Lottery Karma Rankings on Grantland in 2014, and it remains an interesting question. What result would give the most back to the basketball world and its fans? Here's a ranking based on level of fan-base torturing, front office competence and how badly the team needs the boost a lottery win provides.
14. Charlotte Hornets: They would have made the playoffs had they not gone 0-9 in games decided by three points or less. They have enough talent, and while winning the lottery would be a crazy story, adding Markelle Fultz or Lonzo Ball to this roster with Kemba Walker would be confusing. The Hornets are going to need a lottery win in a few years, but not now.
13. Minnesota Timberwolves: Look, there's an embarrassment of riches and then there would be something ridiculous if the Wolves were to again win the lottery. We don't need another Warriors situation. The Timberwolves don't, in any way, need to win. They're stocked; they just need more time.
12. Los Angeles Lakers: The Lakers are third most likely to win it and already have several top-five picks on the roster. They have a promising team, but still trying to determine whether they have what it takes to contend. One thing, though. They don't deserve to lose that No. 3 pick. Some like the idea of the most popular franchise in the league losing its pick if it falls outside No. 3 and gets sent to Philadelphia. But you have to consider that came about as a result of the Steve Nash trade, which was a good trade at the time. That super-team failed miserably, but the idea behind it was smart. Second, this front office wasn't in charge then. Starting off the tenure of Magic Johnson and Rob Pelinka with that kind of bummer doesn't seem fair.
11. New Orleans Pelicans: Yes, if the Pelicans land in top three, it punishes the eternally misguided Kings. That seems cruel, even for the Kings. Plus, it would mean the Pelicans traded for DeMarcus Cousins and didn't even have to give up a pick. Anytime you take on that kind of gamble with Cousins' attitude, karma dictates there should be some risk or cost.
10. Detroit Pistons: It would be really interesting if the Pistons won or landed among the top three, especially with their point-guard situation. But the Pistons weren't terrible enough and made the playoffs as recently as 2015-16. The Pistons don't have a compelling narrative to sell to the basketball gods.
9. New York Knicks: This is a huge tug of war. Rewarding Knicks ownership and management, especially president of basketball train wrecks Phil Jackson, seems wrong. Sentencing another young man to an early career stuck with Knicksdom is unnecessary punishment. But on the other hand, pairing Markelle Fultz or Lonzo Ball with Kristaps Porzingis would be a bright spot for fans who have suffered so much. Either one would fit well in high-profile New York. Plus, maybe it's fitting if we wind up with LaVar Ball vs. Jackson.
8. Phoenix Suns: They have a ton of young guys, but no clear direction. Their highlight was Devin Booker scoring 70 in a loss, in a game they started intentionally fouling to get his point total up. You can't "cross up the basketball gods" much more than that. But landing a top-three pick could put them in position to make a trade that could realign their solar system. The team has been a joke for most of this decade, so it wouldn't be the worst thing if the Suns again were good.
7. Denver Nuggets: They missed the playoffs by just a handful of games, and have great young talent in Nikola Jokic, Gary Harris and Jamal Murray. But they lack a star. They also have never moved up in the lottery, only down. Landing Fultz or Ball would create tough decisions, but a third-place slot opening up a chance for Jayson Tatum, Josh Jackson or Lauri Markkanen would bring excitement to a team whose attendance shows could use it.
6. Orlando Magic: OK, yeah, the front office has ruined its chances by trying to push for big free-agency leaps instead of keeping with the rebuilding plan. But with a new general manager (hopefully?) in place, a top-three pick gives them a real chance at starting fresh. Plus the lottery gods have been cruel in the past. They gave the Magic a No. 2 pick in the worst draft of the past 10 years (2013, picked Victor Oladipo).
5. Boston Celtics: It would be cool to see the Celtics make history with the No. 1 pick when they were a No. 1 seed in the playoffs. It's a great story of managing assets and rebuilding the right way. But it also means the constant asset hoarding is rewarded and that a team already loaded with talent at point guard gets a shot at another top-flight one. And if they deal the pick, it means the No. 1 pick could wind up in bare-cupboard Indiana or with the super-confusing Bulls without Jimmy Butler.
4. Philadelphia 76ers: This club could have been a decent team this past season, but lost Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons to injuries. Landing the No. 1 pick again puts them in a great position, and Fultz would give them a versatile athlete next to another play-maker in Simmons. The Sixers also could land it through the Kings trade, which would reward shrewd asset management. Winning the lottery would bump the Lakers to No. 4 and give them another top-five pick. There are ancillary benefits to their winning.
3. Miami Heat: Miami came back from an 11-30 start to nearly make the playoffs. Winning the lottery would be a strike against the philosophy of tanking. They had a chance to pull the plug, but instead rallied. Of course, winning the lottery means those players who battled valiantly could get replaced by the fruits of their labor. Tricky thing.
2. Sacramento Kings: If the Kings win the lottery, the Sixers can swap with them, which is funny. The optimum outcome is that the Kings land No. 1, send the pick to the Sixers, and then the Sixers land No. 2, so the Kings are somehow happy and sad because they won the lottery, but not really. It's perfect. Plus, Kings fans deserve to have something to be happy about after trading Cousins.
1. Dallas Mavericks: This franchise has done things the right way, stayed competitive and could really use the talent injection. Such a player could help give Dirk Nowitzki one more postseason run, which everyone wants. They've been in the playoffs recently, but they've also fallen off pretty hard. Plus, imagine if they landed at No. 2 and took Ball, and you had LaVar vs. Cuban. It would be a heavyweight headline fight every day.