Each Team's Chances to Win the NBA Draft Lottery
by Alan Matthews - 5/11/2010
It’s that time of year again where those teams that didn’t make the playoffs – except, as usual, the stupid Knicks who gave away their 2010 first-round pick years ago – can get a lot better a lot more quickly if they are fortunate enough to win the NBA Draft Lottery. This year’s lottery order will be determined on May 18, while the draft is June 24.
The 2010 NBA Draft looks similar to the 2008 version, at least at the top where two players seem to stand out: In ’08, a freshman point guard who was coached by John Calipari for one season was considered the No. 1 overall prospect, while a double-double machine and BCS conference player of the year was considered No. 1A. Of course I am referring to Memphis’ Derrick Rose and Kansas State’s Michael Beasley, respectively, from two years ago. This year that duo is Kentucky’s John Wall and Ohio State’s Evan Turner. There is a definite presumed drop-off after those two in 2010. But because of an expected NBA work stoppage and new collective bargaining agreement coming soon, this year’s draft is considered very deep because so many underclassmen wanted to get in and get their money before the CBA possibly takes a chunk of those rookie salaries away.
Anyways, Bodog has released odds on which team will win the lottery. Here are those odds along with the mathematical chance of each team winning the No. 1 spot:
New Jersey Nets (25 percent): 11/4
Minnesota Timberwolves (19.9): 7/2
Sacramento Kings (15.6): 5/1
Golden State Warriors (10.4): 15/2
Washington Wizards (10.3): 15/2
Philadelphia 76ers (5.3): 15/1
Detroit Pistons (5.2): 15/1
Los Angeles Clippers (2.3): 35/1
Utah Jazz (2.2): 35/1
Indiana Pacers (1.1): 60/1
New Orleans Hornets (0.8): 100/1
Memphis Grizzlies (0.7): 100/1
Toronto Raptors (0.6): 100/1
Houston Rockets (0.5): 100/1
If you are wondering why the Jazz are in this mix, it’s because they stole the Knicks’ pick. Basically, former Knicks president Isiah Thomas keeps on giving to the other teams in the NBA, as New York’s pick was originally included as part of the package to acquire Stephon Marbury from Phoenix in January 2004. The Jazz obtained the Knicks’ pick 55 days later (and another first-rounder!) from the Suns in a trade-deadline deal that brought Tom Gugliotta to Utah in exchange for Ben Handlogten and Keon Clark. What a freaking steal that deal was!
"We made the trade knowing that one day the pick would be unprotected," said Kevin O'Connor, the Jazz VP of basketball operations.
Utah might be one of the few teams in the lottery that might not take Wall because the Jazz already have a pretty good point guard named Deron Williams, but they could plug in Turner at shooting guard.
I am not going to try and break down who might win this lottery, because who really knows. But I will tell you that the team with the best odds never seems to. And some long shots definitely do. In 1993 the Orlando Magic won the No. 1 pick (Chris Webber) with just a 1.52 percent chance. In 2000 the New Jersey Nets won it (Kenyon Martin) with a 4.4 percent chance. In 2007 the Portland Trail Blazers got Greg Oden with a 5.3 percent chance. And two years ago the Bulls got Rose with a 1.7 percent chance.
The team with the highest percentage of ping-pong balls hasn’t won the lottery since the 2003 Cavaliers (LeBron James) and 2004 Magic (Dwight Howard) did it in back-to-back years. How important were those drafts to those two franchises?! In ’03 the No. 2 pick was Darko Milicic (one of biggest busts ever) and in ’04 it was Emeka Okafor (solid player but no star). Since the lottery was introduced the year Patrick Ewing came available, three teams have won the most lotteries with three each: Nets, Magic and Clippers.
Just remember that the ping-pong balls don’t determine the entire lottery but just the top three picks. After that it goes in reverse order of the lottery teams’ win-loss record. So the Nets can’t pick worse than fourth, the Timberwolves worse than fifth, etc. Since Minnesota went point guard crazy in last year’s lottery, one would imagine they might pass on Wall as well if it wins the lottery.
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