Chaos already dominates enough of our lives. The universe is an endless, raging sea of randomness. Our job isn’t to fight it but to weather it together on the raft of life. A raft held together by those few, rare, beautiful things that we know to be predictable.
— Abed Nadir
Imagine a perfect world, with everything neatly in its place. A world where Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins can run free together for the next ten years; where Justise Winslow and Elfrid Payton become the best-coiffed tandem in basketball, creating (with Victor Oladipo) the best defensive perimeter in the NBA almost overnight.
But we’re not always this lucky. Sometimes, Jeff Winger rolls a 1 and Chevy Chase dies of a gunshot wound. Sometimes the Trailblazers take Greg Oden instead of some skinny kid from Texas. But what if every team made that kind of well-intentioned mistake?
I could probably justify this partial mock (these are, at best, exercises in pseudoscience), but should this come to pass on Thursday, you’ll likely find Matt crying, curled up in a ball, muttering something about the “return of the old gods.”
It’s 7:00 on June 25, and the Barclays Center is buzzing. Nineteen prodigies are present, sitting with their families, while many more sit by their TVs, with phones ready to accept a life-changing call. The crowd waits nervously for the commissioner to take the stand. A hush falls over the room as the lights lower.
From sidestage appears the our first harbinger of the waking nightmare to follow. David Stern walks onto the stage, accompanied only by a faint but unmistakable stench of brimstone. He begins to speak, his voice a barely-audible croak over the crowd’s heckles.
“I regret to inform you that Mr. Silver could not be here with us tonight. He is currently mediating a Players Association Dispute over James Dolan’s Hiring of Donald Sterling a the Knicks’ Director of Player Development. Without further ado, the first pick of the 2015 NBA draft…”
Minnesota Timberwolves – Jahlil Okafor, Duke C
Chaos breaks out. Flip Saunders, in his everlasting wisdom, picks the back-to-the-basket center of his dreams, completely ignoring the current basis of his team: speed and athleticism. Okafor appears calm, but a previously unseen anger in his eyes betrays his inner turmoil. Many miles away, Andrew Wiggins sheds a single tear.
Los Angeles Lakers – Karl-Anthony Towns, Kentucky C/F
Somehow, and perhaps inevitably, the Lakers get the most talented player in the draft. There’s nothing wrong with this pick, but you feel uneasy knowing that the lizardmen who live underneath the Staples Center are basking in self-satisfaction.
Philadelphia 76ers – Kristaps Porzingis, Liga ACB C/F
“I felt a great disturbance in the Force, as if millions of Sixers Fans suddenly cried out in terror, and were suddenly silenced. I fear something terrible has happened.”–
Charles Barkley, 8:00 PM on 6/25/15
The Sixers again draft on pure upside, tacitly acknowledging that Joel Embiid’s injuries may be worse than anticipated. The Sixers remain at least 3 years from contention, as they are fated to be until the next equatorial passage of Halley’s Comet.
God is dead
New York Knicks – D’Angelo Russell, Ohio State G
Nobody–not even the Buckeye wunderkind– is confident enough to start his career under the combined pressure of Melo, Phil Jackson, Derek Fischer, and 40 years of the Empire State’s broken basketball dreams. The situation is later exacerbated as Jackson is seen sacrificing a lamb to Hnarqu, the Great One.
Orlando Magic – Mario Hezonja, Liga ACB G
Sacramento Kings – Justise Winslow, Duke F
Justise Winslow hits it off almost immediately with his personal worst-case scenario, Rudy Gay. This relationship may be enough to keep him from falling into the bottomless pit that swallowed Ben McLemore, Derrick Williams, and Nik Stauskas, but will likely prevent him from reaching his true potential. On the bright side, Gay probably can’t give Winslow his literal blindness.
Denver Nuggets – Emanuel Mudiay, China G
There are serious concerns about Mudiay being the second coming of Michael Carter-Williams, especially when relied upon to fill the void left by the departing Ty Lawson. Coming from Guangdong, China, Mudiay may also struggle with culture shock as he reacclimatizes to American life. He apparently became quite fond of certain local delicacies.
Detroit Pistons – Devin Booker, Kentucky G
Van Gundy needs players to space the offense around his twin towers. Booker will have one job: to spot up and shoot from 3-point range. Unfortunately, this is also Booker’s only professional-level skill. With NBA defenders capitalizing on his one-dimensional play, this could be the biggest bust of the entire draft.
Charlotte Hornets – Willie Trill Cauley-Stein, Kentucky C
Cauley-Stein is a transformational defensive player. This, however, is a pretty good representation of what Charlotte’s offense might look like with “Trill” holding down the middle: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QrAwoKnd97o
Miami Heat – Cameron Payne, Murray St. G
Still seeking a long-term answer at the guard spot, Miami takes one of the most highly regarded combo guards in college basketball. Unfortunately, Payne projects to be one of the worst players chosen in the first round, with an expected value worse than that of Andrew Harrison, widely considered a mid-second rounder. Good thing they took Shabazz.
As dreams and futures are dashed by the vagaries of fate, there remains a glimmer of hope.
It appears long after Tyus Jones is picked to rot in the point guard hell that is Phoenix’s bench, and the Spurs confirm their blood-oath with satan by drafting Justin Anderson.
Deep into the second round, with the 59th pick of the 2015 NBA draft, the Atlanta Hawks select Quinn Cook, the senior point guard from Duke University.
David Stern’s decrepit flesh regains the pallor of youth. JP Tokoto, undrafted, lets loose a cry of pain.
All sins are forgiven.
All is right in the world.