The winners in the NBA lottery lucked into a lot more than just possibly transcendent players. Teams that avoided dropping down or potentially losing their picks also win at the ticketing box office and in increasing marketing and partnership opportunities. We discussed what winning lottery teams can do to affect their business opportunities a while back. And, It still holds true that winning the lottery can help off the court as well as on the court. Below you can find some winners and loser on lottery night.
The Sixers are on a roll. They are the first team to lock down a jersey sponsor and days later they won the top pick in the draft. That has to make StubHub and its other partners ecstatic.
The ‘Trust the Process’ crowd has to be ecstatic. The Sixers now get to choose between Ben Simmons or Brandon Ingram and both players have the skill set to help the team on the court. Simmons may actually be a better business play. He has been hyped as a top prospect for years now and his Australian heritage could open up an international market to the Sixers’ business partners.
It also helps that the 76ers are supposedly getting Joel Embiid and Dario Saric — two previous picks who have not played a minute for the team — back this year. That young talent should help increase ticket sales, especially for season ticket holders who want to get in on the ground floor.
Los Angeles Lakers
The Lakers won the second their pick stayed in the top-3 otherwise it would have been conveyed to the 76ers. After struggling on the court during Kobe Bryant’s last year, the Lakers need to show its fans they are trending back toward being a competitive team. That would have been a lot more difficult if the team didn’t keep its pick this year.
Now the Lakers can refocus their team branding and marketing effort around three young stars — Julius Randle, D’Angelo Russell and Ingram or Simmons — while it moves on from the Kobe Bryant era. It would’ve been a lot tougher to sell hope without a pick this year.
The Suns left last night with pick No. 4 and No. 13. If they hit on their picks — and are able to get European prospect Dragan Bender who could help expand their brand overseas — they can build around the hope of a young core being competitive for years to come.
How do you make the playoffs with a five seed, get the No. 3 pick in the upcoming draft and still fall into the loser category? The Celtics were hoping for more. There are two marketable transcendent players and the Celtics won’t get a shot at either of them. The third pick also has little trade value so they can’t package it to bring in a recognizable name brand star. If the Celtics were able to get Simmons or Ingram they could have used their talent to pitch higher-end free agents to come to Boston in pursuit of a title. Right now, that dreams is on life support.
The New York teams
The New York teams — Knicks and Brooklyn — are struggling to stay relevant in a city where the Giants have won titles, the Rangers are consistently competitive and the Mets and Yankees made the playoffs last year. New York is similar to Los Angeles in that teams better have a star and win if they want to get fans attention — and discretionary income. Neither team had a chance at keeping their picks so it looks like down times for both squads unless they can make moves during free agency. The Knicks will still be relevant to sponsors and partners but adding a young star would help the business as well. To quote Shawshank Redemption, “hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things,” and without a chance at winning the lottery the New York teams didn’t even have that last night.
The Bulls only lost because the Sacramento Kings pick didn’t fall out of the top 10 and therefore was not conveyed to Chicago. There is an air of negativity in the Chicago market around this Bulls team and the Blackhawks, Cubs, and surprising White Sox could take away from the Bulls bottomline if the team regresses. Adding younger talent could have excited the fan base and put team executives at ease. Instead they are at a crossroads on sticking with the team now or blowing it up. That’s never good for the business bottom line.
Michael Colangelo is Managing Editor of The Fields of Green and Assistant Director at the USC Sports Business Institute.