As the Dallas Mavericks contingent of Donnie Nelson and Keith Grant prepare to head to New York for Tuesday’s NBA Draft lottery selection, they do so knowing nothing strategically will determine whether the Mavs can walk away with the No. 1 overall draft pick.
No tea leaves. No Ouija boards. No X’s and O’s.
Just like the Powerball winner, it comes down to pure luck as to who wins the draft lottery.
Owner Mark Cuban said: “As much as we want to say it’s all science, there’s a big part of it that’s luck.’’
Digital Access For Only $0.99
For the most comprehensive local coverage, subscribe today.
The lottery is at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday at the ABC Times Square Studios in New York City.
This is just the second time in the Cuban era that the Mavs have been in the draft lottery. Cuban purchased the Mavs on Jan. 4, 2000, and Dallas was involved in the lottery some four months later after finishing the season with a 40-42 record.
The Mavs entered the 2000 lottery in the No. 12 slot. That’s where they landed and wound up drafting Syracuse power forward/center Etan Thomas.
Thomas missed his entire rookie season with a toe injury, was traded to Washington in 2001 and finished his career with the Atlanta Hawks following the 2010-’11 campaign while never playing for the Mavs.
Nelson, the Mavs’ president of basketball operations, and Grant, the team’s assistant general manager, will represent the Mavs at the lottery. Cuban was the representative in 2000 and wanted no part of it this year.
“I don’t have the stomach for it,” Cuban said. “My one time [going] and I promised myself I’d never do it again.”
The New York Knicks won the first draft lottery in 1985 and it landed them Georgetown center Patrick Ewing. That “victory” for the Knicks came amid controversy because it was alleged that the NBA knew which envelope in the lottery hopper contained the Knicks’ logo, thus guaranteeing them the draft rights to Ewing.
But Mavs free agent center Elton Brand has his own theory.
“I think whoever wins the lottery is just lucky,” Brand said. “You hear stories of the frozen Patrick Ewing envelop. I don’t believe in that stuff. I think it’s just luck.”
The Mavs only have a 0.6 percent chance of winning the lottery and obtaining the subsequent No. 1 overall pick in the NBA Draft, which will be held June 27 at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y.
Dallas, which finished 41-41 and 10th in the Western Conference enters 13th in the NBA Draft order. Only the top three picks go by the lottery; 4-14 go by standings and tiebreakers.
Cuban believes the lottery system is a fair system.
“It really is random and I don’t think anybody has any type of an advantage,” Cuban said. “We tried to sneak in and freeze a few lottery balls, but they wouldn’t let us in the door.”
In order, Orlando, Charlotte and Cleveland have more pingpong balls available than any other teams, thus have the highest chances of winning this year’s lottery. But because the Knicks won the ’85 lottery in a season when the Indiana Pacers and Golden State Warriors tied for the NBA’s worst record, everyone involved in the lottery knows nothing is a lock.
“Even if you’ve got the worst record, there’s still like a 75 percent chance that you won’t get the No. 1 pick,’’ Cuban said. “The odds are still not in your favor [from the Mavs’ perspective], but you’ve got the best of the bad odds.”
The Mavs are just hoping Tuesday’s “bad odds” turn into the No. 1 draft pick.