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None of these bad NBA teams *deserve* Zion Williamson

We have that and more in Tuesday’s NBA newsletter.

NCAA Men’s Final Four - Previews Photo by Mike Lawrie/Getty Images

We humans like to try to make sense of the world, which is typically a fool’s errand. Even when met with randomized events — events we as humans have attempted to strip meaning from by constructing them is such a way that the only sense to make of it is pure fortune, good or bad — we try to build narratives.

The NBA Draft Lottery is a good example. We convince ourselves certain of these bad or opportunistic basketball teams deserve to win the lottery — and thus the right to draft generational superstar Zion Williamson No. 1 overall — more than others. We convince ourselves that there’s a way this could play out that would be good for the league and a way that could be bad. (We have no idea. It’s hilarious that we think we know.) It seems the collective basketball discourse has settled on the Hawks as deserving of Williamson and, say, the tanked-out Bulls, Knicks, Suns undeserving. Because the Hawks hid it better and had a more stripped down roster from the jump? Huh?

The truth is that none of these teams deserve Williamson. He’s an adult, and deserves to be able to decide where to play himself. No awful team should get the benefit of exclusive rights to the very best college prospect in perhaps a decade, maybe more, by virtue solely of being terrible and lucky. The really good teams who traded for outside shots at the No. 1 pick don’t deserve it either: they have profited off of desperation and/or stupidity and luck, and not the virtues of excellence. But someone will get lucky anyway, and Williamson will have to pretend to be happy (maybe he will be happy! we can adapt to situations and fake it ‘til we believe it). All in the name of competitive balance.

But hey, it’s a fun half-hour of television, isn’t it?


Nothing to report.


NBA Draft Lottery Presented By Hella Meaningless Suns, Knicks, Cavaliers, Bulls, Hawks, and Mavericks Games in January, February, March, and April: 8:30 p.m. ET, ESPN

Blazers at Warriors, 9 ET, ESPN
Series tied at 0-0


Lottery odds. I’m rooting for maximum chaos, per usual. Give Philly the No. 1 pick via Sacramento.

I wrote about Kawhi and how the Raptors’ huge trade was worth it. Every angle on the best NBA shot since the Ray Allen shot in the Finals. The bounces on Kawhi’s shot, ranked.

Kristian Winfield writes that the Sixers owe it to themselves to run it back.

The Cavaliers hired 66-year-old Michigan coach John Beilein, which is actually pretty fascinating. Mike Rutherford calls Beilein’s career arc the embodiment of basketball’s American dream.

Nathaniel Friedman on Kawhi’s shot, C.J. McCollum, and theology.

There’s a silly LeBron-for-Ben Simmons trade rumor out there not worth taking seriously.

Kristaps Porzingis got jumped and maybe injured outside a club in Latvia. Yikes.

The Sixers are keeping Brett Brown. Good. Smart move by management (whether the front office or ownership) making a clear, decisive declaration within 24 hours of the brutal loss.

Mirin Fader on the wake of human debris left by the FBI’s college basketball investigation.

Word to Mr. Ratburn.

Chris Herring and Neil Paine on where the Rockets go from here.

Kelly Dwyer’s West finals preview is free — check it out and subscribe if you love it!

Rob Mahoney on the potential basketball sunset of the Steph Curry and Kevin Durant Warriors.

Be excellent to each other.