Tomorrow night General Managers from the NBA's worst teams will gather together and wait in rapt anticipation as David Stern announces the order of this summer's NBA Draft. And given the history of the NBA Lottery, you can expect that there might be...well, lets call it some suspicious proceedings tomorrow night. Kind of like when The Knicks got Patrick Ewing, restoring to prominence one of the NBA's historic franchises. Or when the Magic, with the lowest odds to win the lottery, won the right to pair Penny Hardaway with Shaq. Or when the Spurs got Tim Duncan to pair with aging and ring-less superstar David Robinson. Or when the Cavs got the rights to draft LeBron James, coincidentally from nearby Akron. Lets just say there have been more storybook endings at the top of the NBA draft then there have been in the Shrek movie franchise. So pending tomorrow night's results, here is a look at the true odds for the draft lottery...The Conspiracy Odds
14. Atlanta Hawks: Now, mathematically the Hawks have the fourth best chance to win the lottery. This is not the mathematical lottery preview however, and in the eyes of Lord Stern the Hawks winning the lottery would be a catastrophe. Partially because the Hawks have shown the ability in the past few years to squander first round talent (See Williams, Childress, Smith), and sending Oden to Atlanta might spell doom for one of the league's most valuable properties. The real reason the Hawks won't win though, is because by winning the lottery it would prevent the Suns from getting the Hawk's lottery pick. The NBA will not allow their prized TV commodity, possibly facing the loss of Shawn Marion or Amare Stoudemire due to luxury tax issues, to lose the opportunity to draft a replacement such as Jeff Green or Joakim Noah. Atlanta has no chance.
13.Portland Trailblazers: The Trailblazers are a team that seems to be in perpetual turmoil, as well as perpetually underachieving. The toxic environment in Portland is no place for Greg Oden, the man of the super clean image. The NBA's worst nightmare would be if Oden landed with the Blazers, only to have him led into a life of crime and slacking off by the influence of Darius Miles. "Seriously Big O, once you get those endorsement dollars, you are MADE man! You don't even have to play anymore! Do you know how much money I get to sit on this bench man? Hey, wait, Greg, why are you goin in the game...come back man"
12.Sacramento Kings: Now it would be tempting for the NBA to give the Kings the chance at the top of the draft, since they boast a decent fan base and reside in one of the larger media markets in the country. Just like the situation with the Blazers though, there is no chance that David Stern will allow Oden anywhere near Ron Artest. Now, if the Kings release Artest in the next 24 hours, they will move up to number 5 on this list. Otherwise, no chance.
11.Memphis Grizzlies: OK, so they do happen to have the best statistical chance to win the lottery. The Grizzlies would be a terrible fit for Oden however, as they play in a small market, have a flawed roster, and....well, their uniforms are pretty freaking ugly. Oden already has a bit of a reputation for being docile, so the NBA is not going to let him suit up every night with a teddy bear on his chest.
10.Milwaukee Bucks: The Bucks are tempting, as they would be able to pair Oden with former number one pick Andrew Bogut. The Bucks chances are hurt however, by the fact that they have squandered the NBA's benevolence in getting the Bogut pick and have not got any better in the time since, even with Michael Redd lighting up the scoreboard from long range. Lord Stern will not be so kind twice.
9.Seattle Supersonics: Now, here we have a legit contender for Oden's services. The Sonics would provide Greg with two All Star caliber running mates from the start in Rashard Lewis and Ray Allen, clearing the way for Oden to have early success and get to the playoffs sooner rather than later. The only real problem with the Sonics is their current arena situation, as a move to Oklahoma City and a possible name change for the team would be bad for marketing Oden.
8.Charlotte Bobcats: The Bobcats would be an attractive option for a number of reasons. First, the NBA wants to see their expansion franchises succeed. Second, the addition of Oden down low with Emeka Okafor would help the development of not only the Bobcats but also would hopefully help Adam Morrison, himself possessing vast marketing potential, to improve upon a lackluster rookie season. Third, Bobcats owner Robert Johnson has made his fortune in the entertainment and broadcasting industry, and would know how to market Oden to the best of his potential. The one big detractor though, is the fact that Michael Jordan is in the background in Charlotte. More specifically, the Jordan that ran the heart and psyche of former number one pick Kwame Brown into the ground in Washington. The NBA would not want to see a repeat of that episode.
7.Los Angeles Clippers: The Clippers have a good chance to get Oden for one main reason: They play in LA. Not only will Oden have access to the celebrity factory in Hollywood, he will also have a ready made rivalry in place with cross town nemesis Kobe Bryant. Cha-Ching. The only detractor is the Clippers' history of being both cheap and bad, meaning that Oden's stay in LA might be a short trip.
6.Indiana Pacers: The Pacers are a team that enjoyed great success in the 90's, a team that NBA fans are used to seeing on television. And now that the Pacers have jettisoned Stephen Jackson, there are no warts on the roster that might threaten to sully Oden's reputation. The Pacer's also have a ready made low post partner for Oden in Jermaine O'Neal, and in the weak Eastern Conference the duo of O'Neal and Oden alone could quickly shoot the Pacers to the conference or even NBA Finals.
5.New Orleans: Don't think that Stern did not see how well it worked out for the NFL when Reggie Bush made his way to the Saints. Now, the NBA does not have to depend on the stupidity of a team like the Texans to get Oden to New Orleans: they can just rig the draft themselves. Pairing Oden with Chris Paul could create a modern day Stockton and Malone, and Oden's presence in the Western Conference would provide plenty of marquee TV match ups with the NBA's best teams.
4.Philadelphia 76ers: What better way for the NBA to distance itself from its thug image than to replace Iverson in Philadelphia with Oden? Oden would step onto one of the league's most storied franchises, and would look quite snazzy in a 76ers jersey. Philly would also provide Oden with a pretty large TV market in which to perform. Not to mention the fact that the Sixers also have a ready made side kick for Oden in Andre Igoudala. This would be a fantastic conspiracy spot for Oden.
3.Chicago Bulls: Not many options would be better than Oden suiting up for the Bulls, a team with a huge fan base as well as the recognition factor still present in the general populous from the Jordan Era. There are already thousands of fans out there with Bulls hats from the 90's in their closets, waiting to break them out again. Combine this storied past with the fact that the Bulls play in one of the biggest sports towns in America, and the fact that they have a roster full of talented swing players in need of a low post scorer, and the Bulls look like an ideal landing spot for Greg Oden.
2.Minnesota Timberwolves: The Wolves are not the league's sexiest team. Far from it. They also do not play in a big market, or have a tradition of excellence that is being interrupted. What they do have however, is the league's best player, Kevin Garnett. Can you imagine the destruction the Garnett would reign down upon the league if he were paired with Oden? One of the best storylines in sports is the pursuit of a championship by a loved star, and putting Oden with Garnett would turn that dream into a reality for KG. The NBA put Duncan in San Antonio with David Robinson: don't be surprised if they erect another set of Twin Towers.
1.Boston Celtics:This one is too easy. The Celtics have the second best chance mathematically at winning the Lottery, so swinging the ping pong balls in their direction would not even be that much cause for suspicion. The addition of Oden to the Celtics would bring one of the NBA's most storied and iconic franchises out of the Danny Ainge imposed Dark Ages, and return this once proud franchise to prominence. Take it to the bank: the Celtics will not miss out on the top two.