Emperor Ernie Grunfeld, more formally known as Washington’s Team President of Basketball Operations, discusses the ever-evolving process, which is more NeverEnding Story (the movie) and less Law & Order (an episode). Grunfeld also reveals that the Cleveland Cavaliers actually won twice. After winning the first pick, Cleveland also won the third pick, so they had to re-draw and Washington’s combination came up.
Here is a secret of the NBA Draft Lottery, which, by revealing, will result in me being sequestered, along with the ping pong ball machine, for the next calendar year with only a representative from Ernst & Young for company. My general assumption was that the NBA took a commercial break before announcing the top three picks to build drama for the audience watching at home. This is true and effective to a large degree, but the real reason they take that commercial break is so that the assembled media hoard can descend three flights of stairs, run across the street under the escort of New York’s finest, and get cordoned off in the basement of the studio in which the show is taking place. It was there, surrounded by machinery lifts, cameras that have been put out to pasture, and around 100 sweating reporters, that I learned that the Wizards had won the third pick in the lottery. You are then escorted into a freight elevator and unleashed upon the stage where you push your way to your interviewee of choice. You see the weirdest sights on the draft floor, such as Flip Saunders having an extremely candid and friendly talk with Ernie Grunfeld, Damian Lillard looking for every possible escape route, and the spawn of Dan Gilbert lapping up the attention. (Other members of the Gilbert brood looked visibly annoyed that their youngest sibling has become the human horseshoe and the only thing worth talking about on draft night.)