A updated Pepsi Max Uncle Drew commercial was released in preparation for this weekend’s All Star game in New Orleans. Uncle Drew, Kyrie Irving, is driving to the Big Easy to pick up his big man, who is only shown from the back, and far away. The big man is tall and lanky. The clear expectations is that big man is New Orleans Pelicans’ power forward Anthony Davis.
The long arms, the smooth movements odds are strong that Davis will be the next added to Drew’s team, along with Kevin Love and Nate Robinson. Yet it begs the question, what would a team of Irving and Davis look like? To start we need to go back to the 2012 NBA Draft Lottery and the season prior.
2011-2012 NBA Season
The Cleveland Cavaliers had just selected Kyrie Irving and Tristan Thompson following bottoming out when Lebron James left the team. Irving struggled with injuries but the signs of a superstar were evident. Thompson struggled, and often played out of position at center during his rookie year but looked like he could be a rotational big man at worst. Irving was the centerpiece of the rebuild with hope in the team’s two first round picks and Thompson to strength the core of the team.
The then New Orleans Hornets were fresh off trading their star point guard Chris Paul to the LA Clippers. Current Cavalier Jarrett Jack led the team in scoring and assists with Emeka Okafor providing interior defense and rebounding. Eric Gordon, star of the Paul trade, only played in 9 games due to injury. The team struggled with health throughout with reserves Marco Belinelli and Grevis Vazquez leading the team in games played. The Hornets hoped to build around Gordon and their two 1st round picks in the up coming draft.
Both teams ended up with the same record, 21-45 and had two first round picks in the up coming draft to try to right the ship.
2012 NBA Draft Lottery
There were 7 ties in the 2012 NBA Draft Lottery that needed to be broken before ping pong balls were given out. These were done via random drawing. The Cavs won their tie breaker drawing with the Hornets and got the extra set of ping pong balls. Going in the Cavs had 13.8 percent chance of winning while the Hornets had 13.7, plus another 1.1 from the pick they acquired from the Clippers that was originally the Timberwolves. The teams had the 3rd and 4th best chances of landing the #1 pick and Davis.
On the night of the draft lottery hopes were high for many franchises as the draft lottery show commenced. As cards were being pulled Cavalier hopes were high. The lowest they would draft was 6th. The 6th slot envelope was opened, the Nets (which went to Portland), and hope grew. The 5th pick’s envelope was opened, the Kings, and hope grew. The 4th pick’s envelope was opened, and Cavalier faithful sighed as the team’s logo was revealed. It was not to be. The Wizards picked 3rd, the Bobcats 2nd and the Hornets hit the home run with the #1 overall selection.
The ping pong balls that won the Hornets the selection would have been the Cavaliers, if the Cavs had lost the tie breaker drawing. As fate would have it winning that tie breaker meant losing Anthony Davis. That obviously assumes everything else stays the same but odds are it would have as one result did not effect the other. How would the Cavaliers looked different had the one result changed? Instead of drafting Dion Waiters the Cavs would have gotten the long lean, shot blocker Davis. On the next page we look at just that.