The NBL finals begin this Thursday night with four genuine championship contenders, but three of the four contending teams have coaches out of contract.
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It’s no secret that the Orlando Magic gave away a superstar in Dwight Howard to the Los Angeles Lakers, and in return gained a bunch of average players and middling draft picks in the NBA’s latest major trade.
There’s been much reaction with the view being the Magic were the losers out of the trade.
But, one draft pick that they are yet to secure may just be the consolation prize for losing their star attraction despite his tantrums and constant requests to be traded: the 2013 first-overall draft selection and with it, UCLA freshman Shabazz Muhammad.
Orlando general manager Rob Hennigan will be hoping the league Santa Claus makes an out of the way stop in Florida in the days preceding NBA deputy commissioner Adam Silver opening the envelope and revealing which franchise picks first.
For the Magic, it would be their first-overall selection since David Stern called out Howard’s name.
In other words, Hennigan would be looking for commissioner Stern to intervene.
Now, you might be thinking even without Howard the Magic will still win their fair share of games compared to a team such as the Charlotte Bobcats, thus reducing the Magic’s chances.
So let’s take a walk down memory lane, shall we.
When LeBron James made ‘The Decision’ and took his talents to Miami for the 2010-11 season, the Cleveland Cavaliers were left stranded without a star – their hometown-hero turned villain to many who would go on to set ablaze his jersey in disgust.
Just one season after, the Cavs would win the lottery and secure PG Kyrie Irving. Cleveland had two picks in the 2011 draft. Interestingly, it was the pick that they obtained from the Los Angeles Clippers that they landed the first-overall selection with.
And what were the chances of this happening? 2.8 percent. Hmmm…
How about the most recent draft? The New Orleans Hornets selected University of Kentucky big man Anthony Davis. The Hornets went into the lottery with a 13.7 percent chance to claim the prized pick.
They had the fourth-worst record of the season: the Charlotte Bobcats had the worst with just seven wins and 59 losses. However, New Orleans had one key element in their favour: just five months earlier, they had traded Chris Paul.
Oh, and the team was owned by the league in a time they were looking for a new suitor.
These two examples fit the mould for Orlando getting the chance to select first overall.
For conspiracy theorists, there are several more examples of where the lottery may have been manipulated – Patrick Ewing back in 1985, Kwame Brown in ’01.
Also Derrick Rose who was drafted by the Chicago Bulls, whom had just a 1.8 percent chance of winning, again hmmm… and, then John Wall in the 2010 draft.
I indicated it earlier in this article, however I will now ask the question: did the Orlando Magic, in trading Dwight Howard, secure the first overall pick in the 2013 NBA Draft?