The NBA Draft Lottery is Tuesday night and fortunes of franchises can change in an instant. OK, not an instant, it’s actually more like 75 to 90 minutes which is the usual wait time between when the drawing is done in a locked green room and when the results are announced on television. 

The lottery always carries with it a certain sense of whimsy, as if anyone could be prince for a day, and teams that have banked so much on the outcome of this absurd process wind up struggling to accept how things didn’t go their way. 

1. Chaos reigns (everyone loses)

Lottery results: 1. Pelicans 2. Kings (swap with Sixers) 3. Sixers (swap with Kings)

Outcome: This is peak hilarity. The Kings in this situation do not get a first-round pick from the DeMarcus Cousins trade, because for some insane reason, they left it top-3 protected. They then secure a top-3 pick, which is great! But they have to send it to Philadelphia as a result of a salary dump trade they made two years ago trying to get into position to sign a marquee free agent, which of course they never did. But they do land the third spot! Except … this is widely considered to be a top-two-player draft. 

Meanwhile, the Lakers lose their pick to the Sixers, who land No. 2 and No. 6, and the Celtics slip to No. 4. No one gets what they want, except the Pelicans, who don’t even really need the pick with DeMarcus Cousins on board. The Sixers get two top-six picks and the Lakers are denied another phenom. It’s pretty incredible. 

2. Red wedding (those poor Kings)

Lottery results: 1. Pelicans 2. Mavs/Hornets/Pistons/Nuggets/Heat 3. Mavs/Hornets/Pistons/Nuggets/Heat

Outcome: Similar to No. 1, the Kings watch the Pelicans get the No. 1 pick, which should have been included in the Cousins deal. They don’t pick-swap with the Sixers … but that’s because they fall to No. 11 and their pick goes to the Bulls. They get nothing. 

3. No tankers allowed (the right stuff)

Lottery results: 1. Miami Heat 2. Denver Nuggets 3. Mavericks

Outcome: The teams that refused to tank get rewarded in an insane confluence of events as the Heat wind up with the No. 1 overall pick in a year where they had every reason to tank but didn’t and wound up missing the playoffs by just a game. Every team that dedicated itself to a slow rebuilding process gets leaped by a bunch of half-measure enthusiasts who have been trying to split the coverage for years. 

4. That one game (cruel and unusual Knicks punishment)

Lottery results: 1. Minnesota Timberwolves 2. Celtics 3. Philadelphia 76ers

Outcome: The Knicks won a completely meaningless game on the last day of the regular season, enabling the Wolves to catch them in the standings and then win a coin toss for the higher spot. Watching the Wolves win the lottery with that spot, then seeing their hated rival the Celtics land No. 2, and their other division opponent the Sixers go No. 3 would be unnecessarily brutal on Knicks fans. But it would also be kind of funny, considering how Phil Jackson has run things. 

5. California dreaming (rivalry daggers)

Lottery results: 1. Lakers 2. Sixers 3. Knicks

Outcome: The Lakers have themselves a night. L.A. secures the No. 1 pick, which they can use on Lonzo Ball. The Celtics, L.A.’s age-old rival, slide all the way to No. 4. The Celtics’ division rival gets stronger with a No. 2 overall pick, as do the Knicks with the third overall, as Boston has to wait for whoever’s left of the top tier. This scenario also improves the chances of Lavar Ball and Magic Johnson eventually having a celebrity boxing match, which I’m very excited for. 

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