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Is the First Pick a Money Maker?

We all know now that the Portland Trail Blazers have won the 2007 NBA Draft Lottery, so the only question to ask is, "How much was that luck worth?"

The answer? $6,344,483 next year alone. Let's show you the math.

Below you will see the chart I've prepared, which reflects that the team who received the No. 1 pick got an average attendance boost of 11.5 percent the following season.

The Trail Blazers finished 22nd in the NBA in attendance this past season with 16,360 fans per game. An 11.5 percent increase would give them 1,881 more fans per game or 77,121 more fans on the season.

With an average ticket at about $43 per game, that would mean the Trail Blazers would earn $3,316,203 more in gate revenue alone from Greg Oden or Kevin Durant.

The only reason why this is true is because billionaire Paul Allen finally bought back the rights

Rose Garden Arena
AP
Rose Garden Arena

to the Rose Garden this year so that he gets to keep the club seats and suite revenue.

He also gets to keep concessions and parking income. We'll assume that the 1,881 people are spending $10 each at the concessions ($771,210 on the season) and let's say every three people are paying for a parking space, which costs an average of $10 each as well ($257,070 on the season).

But I also have the Trail Blazers now making the playoffs next year. The average jump in wins for a team with a No. 1 pick is 11 ½. That would put the Trail Blazers at a solid 43, good for at least an eight seed. They'll be guaranteed to host two home games in the first round – I won't take them any farther – and those are said to be worth a gross of $1 million each.

There is more TV money to be made. Somehow, 21 of their games weren't even aired locally last season and the team will be part of the new Comcast SportsNet Northwest, but it's impossible to calculate.

So that's how I come up with a total added value of $6,344,483.

The bad news? The No. 1 pick's slotted salary for the 2007-08 season is $4,662,000. So I guess my projections have the Trail Blazers in the positive by $1,672,483.

Below you will find a decade worth of stats. It shows the No. 1 pick and the team he was selected by, the attendance difference between the season before and the player's first season and the difference in record. You will notice that I chose 11 years instead of 10 because I had to throw out the 2001 year. That's because those 4,900 fans per game and 18 wins had little to do with Kwame Brown and more to do with a man named Michael Jordan. You will also notice that I had to project how many wins the 1998 Clippers would have had if that season hadn't been shortened to 50 games due to the league lockout that year.

Questions? Comments? SportsBiz@cnbc.com

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