Unterberger: Well, That's It (Get Used To It)
The 2018 Lottery was a little less eventful that we’re used to. We should get used to that.
Andrew Unterberger is a famous writer who invented the nickname 'Sauce Castillo' and is now writing for The Rights To Ricky Sanchez, as part of the 'If Not, Pick Will Convey As Two Second-Rounders' section of the site. You can follow Andrew on Twitter @AUGetoffmygold and can also read him at Billboard.
Shout out to my non-Sixers-fan brother Sam, who attended the Sixers Lottery Party for the third consecutive year out of a continued anthropological curiosity and a beer-facilitated enthusiasm for mindlessly booing and cheering with a couple thousand strangers. Attempts from my father and I to explain the Sixers' lottery history and current odds were met with varying degrees of success -- but truly, nothing could've prepared him for the drawing itself, when after hours of build up, the Sixers landed the No. 10 pick that they were 9 out of 10 to get all along. "Well, that's it," I shrugged. He couldn't stop laughing.
It threw into stark relief a night that included a lovingly assembled Process tribute video and Lennon parody, a special appearance from one of the longest-tenured Sixers, endless ridiculous chants and a goddamn wedding -- not to mention the end-of-days storming going on outside the whole time -- all in anticipation of Philly being granted the privilege to hopefully draft a future rotation player. Not only did we not get to the commercial, we didn't even get to the first of two commercials, with a new break inserted arbitrarily after the Sixers' card was drawn, as if solely to taunt the Xfinity Live crowd.
Was it a disappointment? Not really. Getting disappointed in something that's nine times more likely to happen than not is pretty foolish. It was more emotionally confusing than anything, because it just seemed like there should have been more. Was there a second pick from the Magic or something that we forgot about? Are you sure there's no way we get the Kings pick *this* year? No chance of the Sixers jumping form No. 26 to the top three, really? That's weird. We usually have a second lottery pick, you know.
I suppose it's something we should be getting used to. Failing outright disaster (or some unexpected longview GMing from Bryan Colangelo) next year, the Sixers will enter the lottery with at best a 1 in 7 chance of getting the No. 1 pick -- and only the No. 1 pick -- via Sacramento, which means we'll be at least 86% likely to walk away with absolutely nothing. And after that, who even knows? We might need to have a 2020 lottery party just to laugh at the Pistons and Hornets for drafting in the 8-12 range for the 17th consecutive year.
As for getting the tenth pick this year, well, grand scheme, that's still pretty righteous. Not a lot of teams finish a season 52-30 and immediately get to add a top ten pick to their growing young core -- and hey, No. 10 remains one higher than No. 11, the pick we landed MCW with (just days after the M*A*S*H series finale first aired), before trading him for the Lakers pick that ultimately became this year's selection.
BTW, ESPN, CBS, NBADraft.net and your #fromhere uncle who watches six college games a year all have the Sixers taking Villanova forward Mikal Bridges with said tenth pick. (SI says Miles Bridges, but maybe they just got mixed up.) Seems reasonable: Bridges hits threes and plays defense, two things we had a lot of dudes who could do one of this postseason, but not a ton who could do both. Do feel like maybe Sixers fans should maybe not get too attached to dude -- since any other GM watching Boston and their endless complement of switchy forwards tear through these Eastern Conference playoffs might make Bridges more of a priority than we're expecting -- but if he's available and we take him, cool beans.
The only other thing maybe worth talking about from the night from a hoops perspective was Sacramento making it to the top three for the first time since 1989 (seriously), which could, in theory, have a positive enough on-court effect on the Kings to end up devaluing their '19 pick somewhat. If so, not sure how to feel about that at the moment -- haven't decided yet whether it's worth rooting for max SAC putridity for the 1 in 7 chance of us getting their pick at No. 1, or if we'd be better off just rooting for them to be good enough to only hand the Celtics a pick of middling value. Either way, the Kings stay the Kings, so they'll probably be shitty forever regardless.
Anyway, even with the anti-climactic ending -- and then later watching the Celtics go up a decisive 2-0 in the ECFs, seemingly a sure thing to get to the finals while killing off the LeBron James era in Cleveland -- this was still one of my favorite lotteries. The muted nature of the triumph and the extremely serious silliness that preceded it all felt So Us, and the fact that the event only continues to grow as the ability to reasonably explain its existence shrinks proves how the Lottery Party was never really about the landing the picks, anyway. Life's a Process, not a destination.