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.

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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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Playing with NBA Futures Bets and Props

I rarely play future bets, because I’m too impatient. But I’m going to take a stab at some this year, and consider it an investment.

Who will be the 2012-2013 NBA MVP:

Chris Paul, with 8 people higher than him, becomes my “sleeper” pick

Lebron James +175
Kevin Durant +385
Kobe Bryant +800
Kevin Love +1200
Dwight Howard +1200
Deron Williams +1200
Steve Nash +1200
Russell Westbrook +1200
Dwyane Wade +1500
Carmelo Anthony +1500
Chris Paul +1500
Tony Parker +1500
Blake Griffin +1800
Rajon Rondo +2000
Dirk Nowitzki +2000
Kyrie Irving +3000
Danny Granger +4000
Chris Bosh +4500
David Lee +6000
Field +1000

I’m instantly ruling out the Laker trio. I can’t see how any of those three so clearly become the best player on that team let alone the MVP of the league. I’m immediately ruling out David Lee because his inclusion on this list is just hilarious. I can’t imagine a scenario where Bosh, Granger, Griffin or Parker win it either. Westbrook will forever be in KD’s shadow, and considering the fact that OKC’s team success is now expected, the season he’d have to have, assuming KD is healthy, to win the MVP award is unfathomable. Kyrie is somewhat intriguing, but at best he becomes considered a fringe top-10 player, and it’s a certainty that nothing special will be happening in Cleveland this year. I think people forget just how great Wade was last regular season, and even so, he only finished 11th in the MVP voting. The world has warmed up to LeBron as well, and it’s clearly “his team”.

The Candidates

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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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Game Time! Examining The Type of Villain Dwight Howard Has Become

I was briefly perusing hollywood.com’s list of the “Top 10 All-Time Best Villains” and it got me thinking: what type of villain is the NBA’s newest favorite villain, Dwight Howard, most like?

I decided to take their top 10 list and compare there villainous traits to what Dwight Howard has done to become the villain that he now is in the eyes of many. I’m far from intelligent, especially in the psychology field, but I figured there had to be some common traits between these ten legendary villains and Dwight Howard.

Here goes…

10. The Joker (Heath Ledger in The Dark Knight

“This town deserves a better class of criminal, and I’m gonna give it to them.“―The Joker

Wow, Dwight, that’s so nice of you! Orlando deserves another villain?!?

I don’t actually think Dwight wants to be a villain – that’s just not who Dwight Howard is. I think he just wants to be comfortable, pampered, make more money and become more of a star. He certainly does want to win, but judging by his insistence of playing for the Nets and the Nets only, you can’t be too certain about that. The bridge has been burned between he and the Magic front office, and Dwight has realized that he isn’t going to get everything he wants in Orlando. So it’s time to bolt.

The Joker is creepy, unsettling, frightening and genuinely enjoys and embraces his inner evil. Many consider him to be the hallmark definition of what a psychopath is, but I disagree to an extent. Psychopaths don’t feel emotion, and The Joker clearly does. He is sadistic and takes great pleasure in his evil and disgusting acts. At teams he even shows sadness when his plans fail. His evil acts aren’t simply t superficial; he strives to upset social order. He dreams of a world where total anarchy reigns supreme.

In The Dark Knight The Joker spends the entire time trying to prove one singular point: that like everything else, Batman is corruptible. He is completely apathetic to everything else, and essentially destroys most of Gotham City just to prove his point, but all he cared about was creating chaos and proving his point.

Dwight isn’t trying to prove a point, but like The Joker, he also has one singular goal and currently isn’t worrying about the repercussions of trying to attain that. He has alienated and angered an entire fan base for no other reason than because he wants to leave and he has handled that whole process so terribly, almost without regard to public perception or collateral. Dwight’s motivation, however, isn’t because of an sort of evil genius (or genius at all), it’s fueled by an internal and selfish desire.

Similarity rating: 6.5/10

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Breaking Bad, Meet the NBA

AMC’s Breaking Bad, in my not-so-humble opinion, is the premiere television series currently airing. There is no show that makes the seven days between episodes more agonizingly long than Breaking Bad. I first started watching it as Season 3 was presently airing, and it took me just 3 days to fly through all the episodes I had missed. I skipped class and called off work multiple times during that three day stretch just to get my fix. I was hooked.

A quick look at IMDb’s Highest Rated TV Series with at least 5,000 votes and I can be assured that I’m not alone in my convictions. According to the voters, Breaking Bad ranks number 6 all time behind some very solid shows like Planet Earth, The Wire, Game of Thrones and Arrested Development. I have no qualms with any of those being ranked so high; it’s essentially splitting hairs among them (however, while I feel GoT is a great show, I don’t think it’s an all-time great).

I won’t argue that Breaking Bad is the best show ever, but I think an argument can be made.

The characters are what make Breaking Bad so captivating. It’s the evolution they go through as the series and consequences progress. It’s the constant battles with morality. It’s how we end up sympathizing with seemingly evil and absolutely morally corrupted characters. It’s so, so, so much more. There are layers upon layers of reasons why the show is so fascinating to me, and while it teeters between the realms of plausible and highly implausible, the depth and realism of the characters force you to shrug that all off.

Comparing a former chemistry teacher turned methamphetamine kingpin to an NBA superstar might be a stretch, but the complex undertones of these characters personalities make it possible. Obviously this will be an inherently flawed undertaking, especially because we certainly don’t know as much about today’s NBA players as we think we do, but there’s enough sample size to draw upon some relatively safe conclusions here.

I’d be lying if I didn’t admit to losing hours and hours of sleep thinking to myself “who is the NBA’s version of Badger” or “if Derrick Rose were a character in Breaking Bad, who would he be?”. These questions are of the utmost importance. I’ve searched the internet for answers to no avail so I have decided to take the daunting task on myself.

Enjoy!

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