Like millions of other Americans, I awoke this Sunday with a losing Powerball ticket. The $900 million jackpot will now move past the $1 billion mark by the time the next drawing is held in the middle of the week, and we all are going to have to wait to see if we become the next instant billionaire.
Then, for someone, it will become a question of what to do with the winnings.
Maybe become the next Mark Zuckerberg, and give 99 percent of the money away. Hey, 1 percent of $1 billion is $10 million, and that should last anyone a lifetime. OK, unless you are Scottie Pippen or Vin Baker or 90-odd percent of the players in the NBA who have made $10 million or more.
Or maybe become the next Steve Ballmer and buy an NBA team so that you can make a spectacle of yourself from front-row seats and have your team play its best basketball with Blake Griffin sidelined.
Then again, we may need to wait another couple of weeks to reach the Ballmer stratosphere. With the market the way it is, $1 billion will only buy you half of an NBA team, with the possible exception of the Sixers.
Maybe you will just become something in between, a person who spends freely while also consoling the unfortunate with random handouts. Just think of the possibilities that might arise in the weeks ahead:
_ You can throw a pity party for Sam Hinkie, who could be starring in The Walking Dead if he were actually a zombie instead just a reasonable facsimile. Rumor has it that Jerry Colangelo has ordered half a dozen moving boxes and a U-Haul truck to be placed outside Hinkie’s office in Philly, just so he gets the message.
_ You can pay for a motivational speaker to have a one-on-one audience with Roy Hibbert, whose passion for the game reminds us all of Bison Dele. Or Royce White. Or Anthony Bennett. Or Pat Paulson.
_ You can give the money to Hillary Clinton, who will not notice that it did not come directly from a Wall Street Super-PAC. You can donate it to Bernie Sanders, who will nonetheless mock you as a 1 percenter whose selfishness knows no bounds. You can donate the $1 billion to Donald Trump, who could buy red baseball caps for the entire population of North America — including Canada and Mexico, provided we could ship those caps past his new border walls.
_ You could donate the money toward paying of America’s national debt, thereby temporarily reducing it from $18.851 trillion to $18.850 trillion.
_ You could hire a shooting coach for Kyle Korver, who used to make a lot of 3s.
_ You could make it rain Benjamins and find yourself a random Kardashian to date and be just like James Harden.
_ You could wager it all against the Brooklyn Nets, likely doubling your money.
_ You could hire Billy King to manage your assets, although you might find yourself sending annual multi-million dollar checks to Danny Ainge for no discernible, logical reason.
Or, you could disappear.
Nobody would ever find you because you would be off living the good life in a land where nobody takes notice of you — sort of like the runner-up candidates in this year’s MVP race, which we all know has already been decided.
Which brings us to our rankings, which will likely remain unchanged at No. 1 for the next four months even if Powerball is not hit over that span and the jackpot reaches $10 billion by the time mid-April arrives and the season ends in dramatic fashion with the Spurs and Warriors playing two times over the final seven days of the regular season.
Other than the Jan. 25 meeting of San Antonio and Golden State (their first of the season), there ain’t much else to get hyperexcited about other than that massive Powerball jackpot.
Except, of course, the possibilities.
1. Stephen Curry, Warriors. Dropped eight 3-pointers and 38 points on the Kings last night in Sacramento, where Warriors fans outnumbered Kings fans by a substantial margin. Question: If you had a choice of going to see Kobe Bryant on his farewell tour when he stopped in your city, or a choice of seeing Curry come into your team’s arena, which would you choose? My choice would be Kobe, because there will be more chances down the road to see Curry. But that is only because I am a sentimental guy. If I wanted to see a guy who had a chance to drop 50 points, Curry would win in a no-brainer. He now has 162 3-pointers, putting him on pace to break his record of 286 sometime in March. For those of you needing Powerball advice, his high-scoring games are 38, 40, 41, 44, 46 and 53. His uniform number is 30. LAST EDITION: No. 1.
2. Draymond Green, Warriors. Picked up a technical foul Saturday night in Sacto, giving him the league lead with nine. Hey, at least he leads the NBA in something other than triple-doubles. He is shooting .571 from the arc in January after going 5-for-6 against Sacramento. He had 16 assists against the Rockets on New Year’s Eve, then 14 two nights later against the Nuggets. He has had 12 or more assists five times this season, which is five more times than Curry has reached a dozen. He is so much better of a second fiddle to Curry than Scottie Pippen was to Michael Jordan, it is not even close. And he isn’t afraid to speak his mind, which earns him bonus points in a league where too many players are about as quotable as a mime. LAST EDITION: No. 3.
3. Kawhi Leonard, Spurs. Because Carmelo Anthony elected to pass to Jose Calderon in the corner rather than continue driving to the bucket and draw a foul on Friday night, the Spurs’ home winning streak reached 22 this season and 31 overall (13 shy of the NBA record of 44 straight by the Chicago Bulls in 1995 and 1996). Unlike Curry and Green, watching Leonard play does not make one go vertiginous (thanks to Pop for adding that phrase to the basketball lexicon). But you can say this about Leonard: He is remarkably concordant. In 36 games, he has scored 30 points once and has been held to single digits once. LAST EDITION: No. 2.
4. Kevin Durant, Thunder. Hallelujah. A third good team has emerged in the West. At 26-11 with 15 wins in their last 18 games, they have been able to stay in front of the JuggerClippers and their implausible eight-game roll with Blake Griffin sidelined. Of those 15 wins, Durant has shot 50 percent of better from the field in eight of them despite having his workload increase. (He averaged 33 minutes per game in November but has been at 36 per game and above in December and January). He has seven 30-point games this season, and my crystal ball says he’ll have seven more before January ends. LAST EDITION: Tied for 4th.
5. DeMar DeRozan, Raptors. Hasn’t had a bad game (defined by scoring less than 15 points) since Nov. 18 at Utah, a big reason why the Raptors have gone 17-9 since then despite being without their big man, Jonas Valanciunas, and their 3-and-D guy, DeMarre Carroll, for a majority of that time. Look, when you are talking about “value” in the Most Valuable Player debate, you have to give props to a guy who can carry his team when two of its top four players are on the shelf. If DeRozan hadn’t been doing that, we’d probably see a picture of LeBron James in this column. (He has been conspicuously absent since Edition I.) The same argument can be made for Chris Paul, but DeRozan’s run of carrying his team has been more sustained than what Paul has been doing since Griffin went down. LAST EDITION: Unranked.
NEXT FIVE: Chris Paul, Clippers; LeBron James, Cavs; Russell Westbrook, Thunder; Jimmy Butler, Bulls; Paul George, Pacers.
Chris Sheridan, publisher and editor-in-chief of SheridanHoops.com, is an official MVP voter. Follow him on Twitter.