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Time to play NBA Powerball: The Draft Lottery is here

May 17, 2011, 1:34 PM EDT

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By Ben Chew:

The odds of winning the New Jersey State Powerball are about ten million-to-one, but later on today, there will be a lottery that someone will win that could change the course of their franchise.

We’re referring to the NBA Draft Lottery, which will be held before the start of the first game of the NBA’s Western Conference Finals, in Seacaucus, New Jersey. For the common fan, it’s a chance for their franchise to change course for better or worse. For NBA general managers, it’s pretty much the longest thirty-five minutes of their lives.

The NBA instituted the lottery in 1984 due to the tanking that occurred by the Houston Rockets and other NBA franchises to get the top picks in the draft. Since that day, the fate of multimillion-dollar franchises have been determined by envelopes, ping pong balls, and number sequences.

As you would figure, the lottery itself doesn’t always go as planned and it’s probably better for a team to finish with the second or third worst regular season record than it is to be the worst. Don’t believe me? In the past ten NBA Draft Lotteries, only two teams (2003 Cleveland Cavaliers and 2004 Orlando Magic) won the lottery with the worst overall record. Sorry Minnesota Timberwolves fans, I hate to give you that information.

What makes the lottery even more interesting is the conspiracy theories that come with it. Such as the infamous “Dinged Envelope” lottery in 1985 in which the Knicks earned Patrick Ewing, and the 1993 lottery in which Orlando won the top pick despite having only one ball in the hopper.

The lottery is one of the most unique things in professional sports, and proves that losing the most in professional basketball doesn’t necessarily give you the chance to acquire the best talent. And that is somewhat just.

So, the fate of Kyrie Irving/Derrick Williams/Enes Kanter could be determined by the bounce of a ping-pong ball. Hopefully, luck is on your side, but if not, there is always next year.