Learning to enjoy being in the Lottery

Apr 5, 2014; Auburn Hills, MI, USA; Boston Celtics guard Rajon Rondo (9) looks on during the third quarter against the Detroit Pistons at The Palace of Auburn Hills. Pistons beat the Celtics 115-111. Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

I’ve never really been a big draft guy. It’s always just, I don’t know, been a bit boring to me. The combine and the endless mock drafts and projections that come out leading up to the draft get tiresome. With weeks and weeks to discuss the limited number of impact players in any given draft, it begins to feel like we’re talking in circles. And then as the draft draws closer and closer, the talking points turn into nitpicking small faults in these supposedly great players we’ve just spent weeks talking up.

All of the faults listed in the previous paragraph are contributors to my apathetic approach to the draft, but more so than any of them is the fact that I’m a Celtics fan, and the last time the Celtics were in the lottery was 2007. Not that I’m complaining about that, it’s been fantastic to cheer for a playoff team all of these years, but your team picking in the middle to the end of the first round every year makes the draft almost irrelevant. There’s always the possibility that a gem like Rajon Rondo turns up, but more often than not, those kinds of picks are about finding someone capable of making the rotation.

However, with the Celtics back in the lottery, and in possession of two of the top second round picks, all of a sudden the draft is much more appealing. I have found myself reading Draft Express profiles, discussing the top picks on Twitter dot com, and in general seeking out the draft coverage I used to dread. And I have to be honest, it’s a lot more enjoyable than I would have expected. There are still times I find myself reflecting on the draft and all of the coverage and thinking it’s excessive, but it doesn’t bother me as much as it used to.

There’s a general idea, and one I subscribe to, that if you don’t understand something, you should read about it, educate yourself so that even if you don’t agree, at least you aren’t ignorant.  But sometimes that isn’t enough. For all you can learn by reading and studying, sometimes you have to experience what you don’t understand to finally become enlightened. And the hype about NBA Draft, and everything leading up to it, falls into the latter category—at least for me.

Now, this doesn’t mean I wouldn’t want the Celtics to make this their only lottery appearance for the next decade or so. It’s far more enjoyable to cheer for a playoff team than one that makes it an annual tradition to see the how the bounce of a ping pong ball will determine their future, and I think everyone would agree.

The lottery’s a lot like laser tag. You play it once in a while and think, “Hey that was actually a lot of fun. Why don’t I do that more often?” But then you go back and play again the next weekend and realize the exact reasons why you don’t play laser tag more often: It’s dark and there’s little kids running all over the place screaming and a group of teenagers taking it too serious and you can’t even get the gun to fire right. But every once in a while? Yeah, every once in a while laser tag’s pretty fun.

And so is the lottery.

Jack Maloney