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The 2014 NBA Draft Lottery: Envelopes Are Much Better Live


Matt Carey

When the #3 NBA Draft Pick envelope came out, the press room reacted basically right down the middle; half groaned, half exclaimed. Of that, I assume the groans were the Sixers beat writers, the exclaims were everybody else, and then there was me, doing both.

Once the media was let into the studio, the Sixers brass, which included CEO Scott O'Neil and Destroyer of Worlds Sam Hinkie, seemed satisfied.

"Now the fun starts." said a smiling O'Neil. "Time for Sam to get to work."

For his part, Hinkie continued to emphasize his continued message that the process is more important than the result, even knowing the result.

"We talk 364 days a year about controlling what we can control and not worrying about what we can't." Hinkie said."We'd be phonies if we got to here and felt any differently. I think we're really excited."

Being at the lottery in person is weird, because, honestly, other than the 12 minutes we got with Hinkie and a couple other assorted nuggets here and there, there was really hardly any reason to be there. I watched it on TV just like you guys did. The lottery has grown to the point where it's a pretty heavily credentialed event, and has lost some of the informality and quaintness that it's ostensibly had over the years. (I don't know, I wasn't there, but anecdotally from other writers who have, both on LB and elsewhere.) A handful of media was in the studio, but other than that, most of us were in a lobby one floor below watching on monitors and laughing like hell when they announced the Pelicans pick and Dr. J looked as if he had lost his coat with his car keys inside.

Don't get me wrong, I enjoyed the hell out of it. For one, I'd travel pretty much any length of time and distance to spend 10 minutes talking to Sam Hinkie. And the opportunity to sit through a commissioner's press conference and get a slightly more informal reaction from executives after a Draft Lottery is catnip. It's just a different atmosphere that I think has gotten a little more homogenized over the last couple years, out of necessity. As demand grows, access has a tendency to shrink.

A couple random live tidbits:

  • The Sixers contingent seemed pretty happy with their place in the draft. Scott O'Neil was a bundle of nerves when he stopped by to chat with the Philly media for a few minutes before the lottery, and when we saw him after, he was in good spirits. Same with Hinkie. Obviously, it's hard to read him though. He joked that "we're back to my stone face" when asked about his thoughts on the top prospects in the draft. That said, he called it "a good night," and said multiple times how excited they were to be in the position they're in.
  • Adam Silver's press conference was more or less a Donald Sterling follow-up exercise, but the one thing that I found interesting was in his opening remarks, when he reiterated his desire to move the age limit to 20. It's been an under-the-radar subplot for me for a few weeks because the idea was floated out last month that the age limit could in fact be in place for the 2015 draft. That would obviously have a big impact on the Sixers, but most of the information today was a lot of the same language that's been used before -- including the idea that the NBA wants to get the NCAA involved in the discussion. Given the turmoil in the Players Association, the general inability of the NCAA to ever get anything done, and the NBA's time being occupied with the Sterling fiasco, I'd expect 2015 is off the table. Just speculation though.
  • By the time I was done talking to Hinkie, the patron saint of WigginsWatch, young Andrew Christian Wiggins, was nowhere to be found. I was so close, and yet so far away.
  • I didn't get a chance to talk to Julius Erving about his incredible Pelicans reaction, but Chris Vito did, and that's something you should check out.
  • The era of great lottery food has come to a sad end. An entire generation of basketball writers weeps. That said, good chocolate chip cookies.
  • Speaking of writers, I owe a debt of gratitude to the Sixers beat writers. They couldn't have been nicer and more accommodating to me, some guy from the interwebs.

Hinkie laid out a rough timetable for the next couple weeks, saying that he'll spend the next three days watching workouts in Los Angeles (where Andrew Wiggins is scheduled to workout Friday, although Hinkie didn't directly confirm that he'll be at that particular workout), before the team starts bringing players in for workouts next week, saying that might begin over the Memorial Day holiday.

Another interesting thing Hinkie talked about was prospects willingness to play in Philadelphia, and work out for the Sixers. This was first in reference to the top prospects in the draft, and then later in reference to the Pelicans pick being valuable because it would entice more prospects to come to Philadelphia for workouts.  One thing that's clear is that Hinkie sees draft season as not only a way to acquire assets, but also data, and the more prospects Sam Hinkie can scout and talk to players firsthand, the better for him.

It's officially draft season guys. Scott O'Neil put it best: now the fun starts (continues).

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