I only buy powerball tickets about once or twice per year, whenever the jackpot rises above $500 million. For some reason, playing the ridiculous odds only seems worth it when the amount I could win reaches a number I can’t even fathom. $50 million? That’s not worth it. $150 million? Why waste my dollar. But $500 million? Fine, I’ll drop a couple dollars on the 1 in 292,000,000 chance that I can become 1/16th as wealthy as Stan Kroenke.
For me, buying lottery tickets isn’t really about winning, it’s about the few hours between when you buy the ticket and when your hopes and dreams get squashed by the most obvious and predictable reality. Those couple of hours allow you to imagine all the things you’d do with your life if money was no longer an issue. The type of house you’d buy. The type of vacations you’d take. The words you’d say to your boss as you strolled into the office to quit your job once and for all.
Those hours offer a respite from reality and, at their best, bring you a little joy that lingers even after the dream has died.
Today is the NBA draft lottery and while the odds for your Denver Nuggets are slightly better than you’ll find playing the powerball, it’s still pretty silly to get your hopes up. The Nuggets have a 1 in 200 chance of winning the number 1 pick and only a slightly better chance of winning the 2nd or 3rd pick. The overwhelming odds are that they’ll pick 14th. But since we get one short day to think about what might be, let’s daydream about what would happen if the basketball gods shine down on the Nuggets and bestow upon them the first pick in the draft. Just how amazing would that be?
Even more amazing that you can imagine!
Luka Doncic is likely to be the #1 overall pick in this year’s draft and he is a perfect fit here in Denver. He’s a 6’8” 19-year-old point forward who already possesses an elite feel for playing the pick-and-roll. Go under the screen and he’ll drain a pull-up three-pointer. Try to trap him and he’ll sniff it out quickly and deliver the pocket pass to the rolling big. For Denver, that rolling big is Nikola Jokic, one of the league’s best players at making reads in that situation.
In transition he’s a wizard, part Steve Nash, part Manu Ginobili. Playing at altitude would almost be unfair for Doncic, as would surrounding him with two elite three-point shooting guards. The upside for a Nuggets offense featuring Jamal Murray, Gary Harris, Doncic, and Jokic is the best and most exciting offense in the NBA.
Best of all, Doncic appears to be a winner. Last summer, at just 18 years old, he helped lead the Slovenian national team to a gold medal in the Eurobasket tournament. He signed his first long-term professional contract at the age of 13 so he’s been raised in the spotlight. He’s had ridiculously high expectations lofted upon him since he became a teenager, not too dissimilar to LeBron James. So far, he’s met those expectations and even exceeded them.
Some draft analysts consider him to be as promising of an NBA draft prospect as anyone since Anthony Davis. He’d likely make an immediate impact on whichever team drafts him, including and especially the Denver Nuggets who are thin at the small forward position and even more thin on players who can make reads in the pick-and-roll as a ball handler. Doncic would become the perimeter play-making counter-punch to Jokic. Two play-makers of that caliber on the same team would be as silly as it’d be fun.
In short, Doncic would elevate the Nuggets to the front of the line among the NBA’s most talented “young” teams. Right now, the Nuggets have their hat in that ring but probably fall behind the 76ers and Celtics, two teams that made runs in the playoffs despite starting a rookie and a second year player. However, add Doncic to the list and the Nuggets would be right up there with them, even if their defense would take some figuring out.
So that’s what we can dream about today while we wait for the daft lottery. Forget the odds for a few hours. For you own peace of mind, throw out reason and logic. The Nuggets have a chance at instantly becoming the most fun team in the NBA and the league’s first supereuro team. All they need is a little luck.
At least for the next few hours, the Denver Nuggić are still a possibility.