DENVER -- Your odds of being hit on the head by a coconut, dying while getting a snack out of a vending machine or confronting an attack from a hippopotamus are higher than the Nuggets’ chances of winning the NBA draft lottery Tuesday.
Buy Powerball tickets instead.
The Nuggets are in the 13th position in the draft. Supposedly, they have a 0.6 percent possibility of the Ping Pong balls coming out in their favor for the No. 1 overall pick.
No team above than 11 has ended up being drawn for the first selection, and the Nuggets, no matter their spot in the lottery, never has managed to be No. 1 since the original system was instituted in 1985. That year the New York Knicks – surprise, surprise – were first and chose Patrick Ewing. Conspiracy theories haven’t gone away since.
However, there is a pleasant, positive side to this gamble.
Consider the teams that have "won" the lottery and actually won championships.
1985, Knicks, Ewing; 1986, 76ers, Brad Daughtery; 1987 – Spurs, David Robinson; 1988, Clippers, Danny Manning; 1989, Kings, Pervis Ellison; 1990, Nets, Derrick Coleman; 1991, Hornets, Larry Johnson; 1992, Magic, Shaquille O’Neal 1993, Magic, Chris Webber; 1994, Bucks, Glenn Robinson; 1995, Warriors, Joe Smith; 1996, 76ers, Allen Iverson; 1997, Spurs, Tim Duncan; 1998, Clippers, Michael Olowokandi; 1999, Bulls, Elton Brand; 2000, Nets, Kenyon Martin 2001, Wizards, Kwame Brown; 2002, Rockets, Yao Ming; 2003, Cavaliers, LeBron James; 2004 – Magic, Dwight Howard; 2005, Bucks, Andrew Bogut; 2006, Raptors, Andrea Bargnani; 2007, Trail Blazers, Greg Oden; 2008, Bulls, Derrick Rose; 2009, Clippers, Blake Griffin; Wizards, 2010, John Wall; 2011,Clippers, Kyrie Irving; 2012, Pelicans, Anthony Davis; 2013, Cavaliers, Anthony Bennett; 2014, Cavaliers, Andrew Wiggins; 2015, Timberwolves, Karl-Anthony Towns; 2016, 76ers, Ben Simmons.
The Spurs won multiple NBA titles with David Robinson and Tim Duncan. LeBron obviously has been a three-time NBA champion, but did it first (and second) with Miami before returning to Cleveland; Shaq didn’t become a World Champion until he moved to Los Angeles, and Bogut and Irving would win titles after they would go to the Warriors and the Cavaliers. How did it work out for the other teams? Mostly not so hot. Iverson got the 7ers to the Finals; Ming didn’t have a dynasty, but will be a Hall of Famer, as will Ewing, who was the center on the last exceptional Knicks teams. Rose was incredible until injuries ruined his career. Greg Oden was among the worst first picks ever – because of injuries. The guy chosen immediately behind him was Kevin Durant.
Griffin, Wall, Davis and the most recent No. 1s still have an opportunity to win championships, but the odds are against them, based on what happened to the players pick first overall before.
The Nuggets haven’t been able to win a championship without a No. 1 overall selection, and probably wouldn’t win one with one in their rank.
They are basically a common-variety garden plant in the NBA. About as close as they could get was in the early days after being an ABA power and for a brief time with Doug Moe and close once with George Karl when Carmelo Anthony and Chauncey Billups (acquired for Iverson) and Kenyon Martin – the former No. 1 – elevated the Nuggets to the Western Conference finals against Kobe Bryant and the Lakers.
Now, the Nuggets are stuck being in a constant reconstruction era, with excellent young talent, a center who could be a genuine start in the league and a No. 13 pick, which will be produce another eventual starting player.
The Nuggets have a better chance of being mauled by a bear in the Rocky Mountains than they do of overcoming the Warriors, the Spurs, the Thunder and even the rivals to the West – the Jazz – in the next few seasons.
They’ll probably draft a power forward. Zach Collins, who played extremely well for Gonzaga in the NCAA tournament, would be an outstanding pick, but he’s young and raw and needs to get stronger, but he can rebound, defend and shoot outside. He could spell Nikola Jokic – The Joker Is Wild In The NBA -- or play alongside him, and the backcourt of Jamal Murray, Emmanuel Mudiay, Gary Harris and Will Barton has that dirty word "potential" – to be very special as a group.
But don’t get all excited that the Nuggets will get No. 1 (who will be another guard, anyway) or even to the top three (2.2 percent odds).
Maybe 13 will be lucky enough for a missing link.
And stay away from vending machines and coconut palms.