Donnie Nelson wore the same shirt, same pants, same coat and same boots to Tuesday’s NBA Draft Lottery that he wore when the Dallas Mavericks closed out the Miami Heat on June 12, 2011, to capture their only NBA championship.
Unfortunately for Nelson, Tuesday’s results didn’t turn out as positive as it did for the Mavs nearly two years ago.
The Mavs entered the Draft Lottery with a miniscule 0.6 percent chance of moving from their 13th slot and obtaining the No. 1 overall pick in the draft. But when this made-for-TV production was finally over, the Mavs were still in the 13th slot, and the Cleveland Cavaliers had beaten the odds and won the lottery for the second time in three years.
With experts predicting this to be a draft deep in talent, Nelson believes the Mavs will be able to secure a player in the June 27 draft who could help them next season.
“It’s all about getting better,” Nelson said following the lottery. “We’re not sure if we’ll draft [No. 13] or if we’re going to use it as an asset. But it’s a really good area and I’m excited about it.”
The Cavs are excited, too. Especially because Cleveland came into the ABC Times Square Studios with a 15.6 percent chance of winning the lottery, while the Orlando Magic had the best shot, a 25 percent chance, of winning the top prize.
Following the Cavs, the Magic will draft second while Washington moved up from eighth to third. The rest of the lottery ended with Charlotte getting the No. 4 pick followed by Phoenix, New Orleans, Sacramento, Detroit, Minnesota, Portland, Philadelphia, Oklahoma City (from the Toronto Raptors), the Mavs and Utah.
Nelson, the president of basketball operations for the Mavs, had already resigned himself that it would have taken some extreme luck for Dallas to get out of the Big Apple with the draft’s No. 1 selection.
“With a 0.6 percent chance you come in with a good attitude and let it fly and hope you get lucky,” Nelson said. “It is what it is. Deal me a hand. Just get me in the poker game.”
The Mavs were in the lottery for the 12th time in franchise history but just the first time since 2000, when they finished 12th and drafted Syracuse power forward/center Etan Thomas. Owner Mark Cuban represented the Mavs in 2000, just months after he took over the team, and this was Nelson’s first time ever attending the lottery.
“I’ve been around 29 years,” Nelson said. “So I guess if you hang around long enough you’ll kind of eventually see and do it all.
“It was a fun experience. You see a lot of people that you know, and some you don’t, but it’s kind of a helpless experience.”
A “helpless experience’’ Nelson wouldn’t like for the Mavs to repeat any time in the future.
“At last, we landed in a good spot,” Nelson said. “We didn’t move backwards.
“But hopefully this is a last.”