The NBA Playoffs may be heading into the Conference Finals, but for Cleveland Cavaliers fans, the most important night ahead of the 2019 NBA Draft is Tuesday night. There is a lot at stake in the NBA Draft Lottery. So much that can change a franchise immediately, while also potentially setting a franchise back even more. Somehow, it’s all based on ping pong balls too, it really is crazy.
No matter the odds, the Cavs are sending their good luck charm to represent them at the lottery. That guy is Nick Gilbert, Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert’s son. In case you forgot, Nick has represented Cleveland in four of their last five trips to the lottery. In his first appearance, the Cavs (somehow) won the lottery with the Los Angeles Clippers’ pick, which was originally slated to have the eighth-best odds (2.8%), stunning the NBA and defying the odds. The Cavaliers selected Kyrie Irving with the first overall pick that year.
Then, in 2013, Nick once again represented the wine and gold and won the No. 1 pick in the lottery. It was clear that while other teams sent former players, front office members, and even celebrities, Nick was quickly becoming a celebrity of his own in Cleveland. Nick was not there in 2014 when the Cavs once again stunned the NBA and got the No. 1 pick even though they had only 1.7% chance of landing it. That year, then-general manager David Griffin wore Nick’s bow tie as a handkerchief in his suit jacket to keep the luck and good fortune alive, which proved to be true.
This year, with the new-look lottery odds, the Cavs finished with the second-worst record in the NBA but have the same odds to win the first-, second-, or third-overall pick as the worst and third-worst teams in the NBA. Due to them winning the coin flip to be the second-worst instead of the third-worst, the farthest the Cavaliers can drop is to fifth.
With that said, early indications seem like it’s a very top heavy, three-player draft, with the No. 1 pick being Duke’s Zion Williamson, the once-in-a-generation-type player that NBA teams have been salivating over since the moment he started created highlight videos on YouTube in high school. The other two players that seem to be far and away the best prospects are Murray State’s Ja Morant and Duke’s R.J. Barrett. So, while the Cavs hope they can land the first overall pick, they at least need to secure a top-three pick Tuesday night.
It’s weird, for each of the past four years, the wine and gold and their fans have been completely focused on the postseason, with the Cavs making four straight trips to the NBA Finals. While last year there was a bit of attention on the NBA Draft Lottery and the draft itself due to Cleveland owning the rights to the Brooklyn Nets’ first-round pick, the lottery, and the draft were put on the backburner when it came to what was happening on the court. While plenty of fans are still watching this year’s playoffs, Cavs fans have also had their focus on college basketball, Tuesday night’s lottery, and the draft as well, much more than the last four years.
The Cavaliers are sending their good luck charm to the NBA Draft Lottery, the wine and gold just have to hope that this time, the luck works in their favor again. Just 22 years old, Nick has been battling neurofibromatosis (NF), a genetic disorder that he was born with that causes tumors to grow on nerve tissue. While he continues to fight (and try and beat) that disease, Nick also continues to make Cleveland happy by being the Cavaliers’ good luck charm.
Known for his bow tie and celebration phrase, “What’s not to like?”, Nick has become a fan-favorite. He’ll be liked even more if he can keep the luck going and get the No. 1 pick again, for the third time, Tuesday night.
The 2019 NBA Draft Lottery is at 8:30 p.m. ET and will air live on ESPN Tuesday night.