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Groundhog Day – What do the Raptors and Clippers Have in Common?

Are the Clippers the NBA version of Bill Murray?

Are the Clippers the NBA version of Bill Murray?

One of my favourite things about the NBA Draft lottery outside of the actual lottery itself, is the rampant speculation that starts soon after the process is complete.

In yesterday’s case it was a number of things, from "how will the Clippers screw this up," to "will Sacramento or Washington now trade out of the draft entirely."

In addition, much was made about how it always seems like the same teams find themselves in the draft lottery each season. The NBA likes to tout the benefits of the lottery system in that it gives terrible teams a chance to turn around their fortunes, but time and time again it seems like the bad teams, regardless of the players handed to them, always seem to find a way to land back in the basement.

Case in point; of this year’s lottery group, 12 of the 14 teams have been to the lottery 8 or more times in the past 20 seasons with the exception of the Knicks (7, but that number would be a lot higher had Isiah Thomas not traded away all their picks) and Charlotte (5, but that’s one lottery trip for every season in the league so far – not exactly a great batting percentage.) Maybe that’s not so bad but an astounding seven of them have been there 11 or more times!

Leading the way to no one’s surprise – Sacramento and Vancouver/Memphis with 11 trips since 1990, Milwaukee with 12 and Washington and Minnesota with 13. (One could argue that and gulp…Golden State with 15 and the LA Clippers with 16!!

Are you kidding me?

Think about that stat for a second.

In the past 20 seasons, there have only been four times that Los Angeles hasn’t had a lottery pick! In other words, 80 per cent of the time, the Clippers have found themselves with their noses pressed to a ping-pong ball machine come end of the season!

Can someone just put this franchise out of its misery already??

(Memphis is actually on par when you consider that in their 14 year draft lottery history, there have only been 3 seasons that they haven’t been in the lottery. Extrapolating to a 20 year history and you could argue they’d be neck-and-neck with the Clips and Warriors in the futility race.)

Seeing the names of these dysfunctional franchises again and again really makes you realize that the lottery, as many have argued, may be a backward system that simply rewards incompetence. Year after year the same dysfunctional franchises venture to the swamp in New Jersey in an attempt to alter their NBA trajectory with only a few actually realizing this potential. The Hawks, 76ers and Cavs had each been to the ping-ball-a-thon 10 times since 1990 but names like Josh Smith, Andre Iguodala and Lebron James, have buoyed their fortunes since. However considering that Philadelphia barely escaped the lottery clutches this year, and it’s the Hawks we’re talking about here, two of those three examples aren’t exactly anything you’d want to base a thesis on.

It’s funny then to compare these stats to those of the Toronto Raptors.

When glancing at names like Golden State, Minnesota and the Los Angeles Clippers, I think most fans tend to breathe a sigh of relief thinking "well, at least we’re not them."

However is that really the case?

The Dinos have only eluded the lottery circus five times in their 14-year draft history (4 if you count one pick that was dealt), a 71 per cent lottery rate that is actually worse than both Washington and Minnesota!

So while as fans it’s easy to dismiss the idiocy of the Kings and Bucks, the Raptors themselves have a long ways to go in terms of removing the negative stigma of "perennial basement dweller" that’s been attached to this team for some time.

And unfortunately it’s probably going to take a lot more than one good draft this year to right the ship.