Why The NBA Draft Lottery is NOT Rigged

Conspiracy theories are all the rage these days. More and more people than ever buy into the wacky conspiracies that are incessantly spewed from Alex Jones, Donald Trump and Glenn Beck’s mouths. As a scientist, I’m well versed in what the scientific method is and understand the best method of inquiry is to seek empirical and measurable evidence to explore a hypothesis. Questioning things is not wrong. Questioning things and then proceeding to seek  ridiculous bits of quasi-evidence to confirm the crazy thoughts in your heads, and favoring poor evidence over strong evidence (or no evidence at all) is wrong. These guys will tell you that NASA is a program that is set up to kill thousands of astronauts, that President Obama is a Muslim from Kenya and that the Boston Marathon Bombings were carried out by Saudi Nationalists and/or covered up by the US government without a strand of concrete evidence all to further push their oft-hilarious agendas. They’re master manipulators; they can construe flimsy arguments with passionate tirades, wild stretches of the imagination all the while knowing their audiences are full of gullibility.

Those people are wackos who most are willing to just right off as such. Disclaimer: I apologize to anyone reading this that is a fan of either of those three and feels I am being harsh towards them; I did not mean to insult them, rather I intended to insult you.

Glenn Beck viewing party

But when it comes to the world of sports, these conspiracies are much more widely accepted and far less taboo. Perhaps it’s simply because the stakes are minuscule in scale to those and the idea that people would conspire to achieve something in the sports world feels much more innocent. The complications that arise if sports-related conspiracy theories are true are far less terrifying — in fact, they’d really only merely be disappointing and upsetting. The consequences of “Michael Jordan was secretly suspended by the NBA for gambling problems, and this is why he went and played baseball” are far less harmless than what the 9/11 truthers believe. Sports conspiracy theories are fun. Debating whether or not Curt Schilling had blood or ketchup on his sock is innocuous, as is debating whether or not Delonte West porked LeBron’s mom and thus ran him out of town.

But there are more serious allegations out there and it feels like most of them gravitate towards the NBA. The NBA is full of fans who feel that David Stern is some sort of puppet-master-god-voodoo-shaman-thing who can literally influence every aspect of the NBA. People debate, before games even start, who “Stern will let win”. Arguments about “who Stern will let reach the Finals” are in season and super-trendy right now (I kind of hope we get Memphis vs. Indy so they can shut up, at least for a few months). There are a substantial amount of fans that I interact with every day that feel Stern has his hands on everything. Unfortunately, this leads most fans to become unable to objectively watch a game and assess officials, and the rigging conspiracy theorists fall into a downward viscous cycle. They let confirmation bias run rampant.

Whether or not games are rigged is a topic for another day. I think most people have their minds made up and believe what they want to believe.

But when it comes to the draft there is some more concrete evidence out there that can be a bit persuading.


Let’s start with the basics.

First, don’t bring up the 1985 draft. That system of drawing envelopes is so outrageously archaic and outdated that it really has nothing to do with this discussion. Maybe it WAS rigged but that’s irrelevant to a conversation discussing whether or not the lottery that takes place this week will be too. I’m less interested in arguing that there is no incentive or desire to rig the thing, I’m going to argue that it’s just highly improbable that it’s even possible.

Here’s how the current NBA Draft Lottery works.

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NBA Power Rankings

Not to long ago I concocted a power rankings for the NBA in an unnecessarily long-form way of determining how bad the Magic really were. That was unnecessary really because the Magic only will be competing with a few teams for the NBA’s worst record (something I’m ready to root for). Either way, I made them, and figured I’d share them here. I plan on breaking down each division more in depth during the upcoming weeks, just for fun. The NBA is, after all, my favorite sport.

I am not at all a fan of power rankings if for no other reason than the fact that they are completely useless and serve no purpose other than to generate arguments between fans. They really just don’t mean anything, but it’s fun nonetheless.

I digress, and I’ll indulge a little, just this one time.

Note: The purpose of this initially was to hash out where I thought the Magic ranked, so focus on the teams at the top was marginal. You’ll find nothing in depth here.

1. Miami Heat: If Wade gets healthy, and if Lewis and Allen are draining threes, there’s no reason to think that this team can’t be better than they were last year.

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The greatest TV show character of all time.

Week 2 NFL Picks

Week 1 Record: 8-8

I will take a .500 week for week 1. I felt very strongly about Kansas City, but perhaps I underestimated that Falcons offense and the significance of KC’s injuries. Philadelphia and New Orleans were wildly disappointing. I probably got a bit too carried away with my Jets hate and their slow preseason, and perhaps forgot that Ryan Fitzpatrick kind of totally stinks.

It seems like a common trend to overreact a bit after week 1 games, so I’ll try my hardest not to do that. Thursday night’s game is the first test…

All lines from 5dimes as of Tuesday afternoon.

Thursday September 13

Chicago @ Green Bay (-7)

The Cutler to Marshall connection is back

The notion that Chicago could compete with Green Bay in the NFC North was something that most laughed at the beginning of the season. Maybe I’m just being a prisoner of the moment here but I’m much more convinced now that it could happen than I was weeks ago. I look at Chicago and I see a team with a better defense, a rejuvenated pass attack with the addition of Brandon Marshall and a much better rush attack. The Bears offensive line looked solid, especially in the run game, and Cutler seemingly had more time to throw the ball on Sunday than he did most of last year. Conversely, Green Bay’s offensive line looked suspect, the run game did absolutely nothing and the defense was picked apart by Alex Smith. Even more importantly, San Francisco ran for 186 yards on them. Granted, the level of competition varied tremendously between these two team’s week one opponents. I think Green Bay will win – I can’t see how they lose back to back games at home – but I’m still taking those 5 points.

Chicago 27 Green Bay 31

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Political Compass Test

Since I’m looking at about 5,000 words here, I’ll keep the intro short. I took this test, and here are my answers and result.

I had a lot of free time today. A LOT. But actually, I didn’t put much thought or work into this, despite the length. Every response I wrote was written instantaneously. I didn’t go back and re-read anything…so if there are grammatical errors, that’s why. I didn’t want to over-think things any more than I already did. I wanted to go with gut and instinct…my own ideas/beliefs.

If you don’t want to read my answers for each question, scroll to the image at the bottom and I kind of try to explain things.

I took one of these in high school, and was pretty much smack dab in the middle. I do think a lot of that was me just not understanding half the questions, but now that I get most of them, I think this is more fitting.

Page 1 Just a few propositions to start with, concerning – no less – how you see the country and the world.

Question 1: If economic globalisation is inevitable, it should primarily serve humanity rather than the interests of trans-national corporations.

Strongly Agree. First off, I don’t think it’s inevitable. Secondly, I don’t think corporations nor politicians seek to serve humanity. It would be nice if they did. I guess ideally I’d wish that if economic globalism was truly inevitable, these large trans-national corporations would primarily seek to serve the betterment of humanity, but I’m not naive enough to think that would happen.

Question 2: I’d always support my country, whether it was right or wrong.

Strongly Disagree. I’ll support my country so long as it is worth being supportive of. Being patriotic isn’t about blindly supporting everything your country does, it’s about supporting the things that should be supported, and questioning and trying to fix the things that shouldn’t be. Why should you ever support anything that is wrong?

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Alphabet Soup: 26 Reasons Why Rooting for the Pirates Rocks

AJ Burnett: The Pirates got AJ in a trade with the Yankees earlier this season that many felt was pointless for the Pirates, a team perceived to not have any chance of winning and short on money. The trade, however, could not have worked out more perfectly. The team is 18-6 in games he has started and he has ended numerous team losing streaks. He has be an invaluable leader for a team with little experience. He has continually made it clear how honored he is to play for the Pirates, which is something few veterans have said of late. He genuinely enjoys playing there, and the fans have embraced him fully. He has been the recipiant of many emotional standing ovations after crucial and impressive individual efforts. The team has his back, and for seemingly the first time in a while, a displaced veteran finally has the Pirates’ back.

Buc Town: If you haven’t heard the masterpieces by former Steeler Chukky Okobi AKA Chuk Wun, you NEED to give it a listen. Here’s version 1, 2, 3 and the newest #4. This is rapping at it’s finest. The man has a way with words…a lyrical genius almost…

Cutch: A slow August might hurt, or perhaps doom, Andrew McCutchen’s MVP chances, but he has been an invaluable force all season long, and nothing but a pure joy to watch. No player means more to his team than McCutchen does, especially considering how he kept the team alive offensively, almost single handily, during the early months. McCutchen ranks 1st in the NL in OBP, and is 2nd in AVG, SLG, wOBA, wRC+, and in fWAR. He is on pace to have the best single season for a Pirate since Barry Bonds, and it’s no coincidence that this should be the first time the team has finished above .500 since Bonds left, and perhaps the first time they’ve made the playoffs as well.

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Week 1 NFL Picks

Week one of my college picks went predictably bad. Let’s see if I can do any better in the NFL.

Nothing else to really say, so let’s have at it.

My picks are in red. Scores are listed for fun, mainly just so that we can have more stuff to laugh in a week at how bad these predictions are. All lines are from 5dimes.

Wednesday September 5

Dallas at New York Giants (-4)

I’ve already been on the record saying that I think the Giants miss the playoffs this year. Maybe that’s just me being a bitter Patriots fan, but between their brutal schedule and their relative inconsistency last regular season, I just don’t see them winning being a lock for double digit wins. Maybe I am crazy (I probably am), but I think they finish third in the NFC East. The offense should remain potent, but I think the weak offensive line play catches up to them. Eli was uncanny in his ability to avoid sacks last season (having the highest escape rate in the league), and the opponents got pressure on Eli Manning more than any other quarterback in the league. Nothing will change with the latter, and I think something changes about the former and not to their benefit. I like David Wilson and they’ll survive losing Mario Manningham, but unless that offensive line is a huge flaw, and a team like Dallas can exploit that.

I’m not certain they will lose this game, I just think it will be very close. It’s probably fitting to blast Dallas’ offensive line too, since they have a young and unproven LT, and they are weak at both guard spots and at center. As much as the Cowboys can expose the Giants’ offensive line problems, the Giants can do the same. I think there will be a lot of rust and sloppy offense in this game. It’s a tossup, so I took the points.

Dallas 23 Giants 26

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