Welcome to the Monday edition of The Cooler, where it’s never too early to start thinking about the future. Let’s get to it:
*I was trying to get my older daughter to do something the other day. I can’t remember what specifically it was, but between a headstrong 5-year-old and a very acting-her-age 2-year-old, I have more of these moments than I can count in a given day.
The 5-year-old wants an explanation for everything, which is fine. Her job is to figure out how the world works, and the way she does that is by getting information not just about what she is doing but why. In this particular case, I made a leap with the “why” and told her she needed to do this thing because I can tell the future.
She challenged that immediately, but then I said, “Well, in a way I can.” I explained that I wanted her to do the thing because my life experience has told me that if she didn’t, there would be negative consequences later on. This is unfortunately a lot of what parenting, at least in the moment, can boil down to: Seeing a potentially dangerous situation, imagining the negative consequences, and shutting it down. A child just sees the fun she’s having and hasn’t calculated the odds — however big or small — that she might smash her head into a table if she keeps jumping off the couch.
When we calculate these odds as adults, we are in fact imagining that we have some sort of control over or knowledge of the future.
“I’m from the future, and you need to stop,” I told her. She looked at me very matter-of-factly and replied, “We’re all from the future.”
So anyway, I’ll be spending the next several days, months or years trying to wrap my head around that. She almost certainly forgot what she said already. And your job for the next couple minutes as you read this is to think with the hope of a child instead of the projected future reality of an adult.
*Thanks to the Lakers’ win over the Jazz on Sunday, fueled by a monster game by Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, the NBA draft lottery odds for the Timberwolves are starting to come into focus.
The Lakers are now 37-44, a half-game better than the Wolves at 36-44 — meaning Minnesota moved ahead of Los Angeles into the No. 10 spot in the draft lottery drawing order. The Wolves have two tough games left — home vs. Toronto on Tuesday, at Denver on Wednesday — and it’s hard to imagine them winning both. So they probably won’t win enough to catch the cluster of teams with 42 losses, nor can they fall far enough to fall below the group of teams with 48 losses. Their most likely scenarios are finishing with the 10th-worst record (guaranteed if they lose their final two games) or tied for 10th-worst (if they win once while the Lakers lose their finale).
Finishing 10th in the lottery drawing in years past would have meant very long odds for the Wolves. They would have had a 4 percent chance of moving into the Top 3 and a 1.1 percent chance of getting the top pick. Their odds of remaining at No. 10? 87 percent.
But the NBA changed its format this year to discourage tanking — or at least the ultra-tanking race to the very bottom. The odds for the worst teams have been flattened so that the three worst all have a 14 percent chance of the No. 1 pick, and the lottery drawing is now for the top FOUR picks instead of three.
The Wolves as the No. 10 team in the drawing — which takes place May 14 — would now have a 3 percent chance of the No. 1 pick and a 13.9 percent chance of getting into the top four. (Tying the Lakers would give the Wolves the average of the No. 10 and 11 odds, putting them at about 11.6 percent top 4 and 2.5 percent No. 1 overall).
Those are still long odds, but much better than before. And remember, you are thinking with the hope of a child instead of the bitterness of an adult Minnesota Sports fan.
*The Wild, meanwhile, went into a free-fall toward the end of the season that resulted in a last-place division finish for the first time since 2005-06 (and that was in a five-team division instead of the current seven).
The end of Minnesota’s season Saturday means its draft lottery position is firmly set. The Wild is No. 11 in the drawing, which takes place Tuesday. Yes, tomorrow. And the format has changed considerably since the last time the Wild, which made the playoffs the last six years prior, was in the lottery.
The lottery in 2016 changed from only determining the No. 1 pick to determining the top three picks. The Wild has a 3 percent chance of getting the top pick and a 9.9 percent chance of getting a top-3 pick — pretty much the same as the Wolves, whose number is a bit higher because the NBA went to the top-4 format.
Again, long odds but better odds than before. Go ahead. Let yourself imagine that one or both of those teams will win the big prize and land a franchise-altering player even if that hasn’t been the history for either franchise.
If we’re all from the future, after all, we don’t have to feel as bound by the past.