NBA Draft Lottery Odds and Predictions
by Alan Matthews - 5/20/2013
This year, it really doesn't pay for losing.
Some years, being really lousy is a good thing as it earns you the most ping-pong balls in the NBA Draft Lottery. You simply don't win a title in the NBA without a superstar. They rarely switch teams via free agency these days (Dwight Howard could be an exception) because the process is geared toward teams being able to keep their players by being able to offer them more. Thus, you have to build through the draft. Last year, there was a presumed franchise player available: Kentucky's Anthony Davis. And he showed some signs of stardom in his rookie season.
However, this year there is no clear-cut star-in-waiting. Most experts beg another Kentucky big man as the likely No. 1 pick, Nerlens Noel. But he's coming off a serious ACL injury and weighed only 206 pounds at the combine, or about 15 pounds less than the rail-thin Davis. Noel would be physically pushed around in the NBA. One player who might have gone No. 1 was Oklahoma State's Marcus Smart, but he surprisingly returned to school even though next year's draft class is supposedly loaded. Kansas freshman guard Ben McLemore is probably the only other candidate to go No. 1 this year.
The 2013 NBA Draft lottery is Tuesday night on ESPN. Below are the Bovada odds for the teams along with their percentages of winning it. Since the lottery moved to its current format 19 years ago, the team with the best percentage odds of winning has done so only three times: Philadelphia in 1996 (took Allen Iverson), Cleveland in 2003 (LeBron James) and Orlando a year later (Howard). The team with the second-best probability of winning the lottery has only won it twice: San Antonio in 1997 (Tim Duncan) and the Clippers in '98 (Michael Olowokandi -- oops!).
--Orlando Magic, 25 percent (5/2): Charlotte had the worst record almost all season but screwed up by winning its final three games to finish a game ahead of the Magic. Orlando has rocked the lottery, winning it three times. That's tied with Cleveland and the Clippers for the most -- it was instituted in 1985. Orlando has drafted well, taking Shaquille O'Neal, Chris Webber (traded for Penny Hardaway) and Howard. The Magic would probably take Noel if they win.
--Charlotte Bobcats, 19.9 percent (3/1): The Bobcats really got hosed last year after losing out on Davis following the worst winning percentage in NBA history. They got a good player, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist at No. 2, but he doesn't look like a star. This apparently will be Charlotte's final time drafting as Bobcats as the franchise will revert back to Hornets starting in the 2014-15 season. They'd probably take Noel too.
-- Cleveland Cavaliers, 15.6 percent (5/1): The Cavs could be scary good in a few years if they can get a good player here to go with plenty of upcoming cap room and young superstar Kyrie Irving. Maybe it's good karma that it's the 10-year anniversary of landing LeBron.
-- Phoenix Suns, 11.9 percent (6/1): The Suns are in the lottery for the third straight year and have never won it. They need help everywhere, but I presume Noel would be the choice. Maybe it's a good sign that the Phoenix Mercury won the WNBA Lottery and the right to take Brittney Griner out of Baylor.
-- New Orleans Pelicans, 8.8 percent (9/1): This is one team that wouldn't take Noel as he's essentially a Davis clone but not as polished (especially offensively). The then-Hornets won the lottery a year ago with a 13.7 percent chance. No team has won the lottery in back-to-back years since the Magic in 1992-93.
-- Sacramento Kings, 6.3 percent (12/1): It's already been a winning offseason for Kings fans as they were able to keep their team from moving to Seattle. An all-Kentucky frontline of DeMarcus Cousins and Noel would be fun to watch -- presuming Cousins isn't traded.
-- Detroit Pistons, 4.3 percent (20/1): Detroit has never won the lottery. The Pistons are set at center with Andre Drummond, who might end up being the best player from last year's draft. McLemore probably would be the choice if the Pistons win it.
-- Washington Wizards, 2.8 percent (25/1): The Wiz won the lottery three years ago with a 10.3 percent chance and took John Wall. They'd almost surely take Noel.
-- Minnesota Timberwolves, 1.7 percent (40/1): Former GM David Kahn often blew his lottery picks, although he did get Ricky Rubio right. Minnesota has a good center in Nikola Pekovic, so the Wolves probably will look shooting guard and McLemore if they win the lottery.
-- Portland Trail Blazers, 1.1 percent (50/1): I think it would be fascinating to have Portland win the lottery to see if the Blazers would dare take Noel after getting bitten bad by Greg Oden, another big man with a history of injuries.
-- Philadelphia 76ers, 0.8 percent (66/1): I'd also be curious to see if the Sixers would take Noel No. 1 after seeing what happened with Andrew Bynum and his knee.
-- Toronto Raptors, 0.7 percent (66/1): The Raptors would much, much rather win the lottery next year and the chance to take uber-prospect and Canadian Andrew Wiggins. This pick goes to Oklahoma City if it's outside the top 3.
-- Dallas Mavericks, 0.6 percent (75/1): Could the Mavs perhaps use the top overall pick in some sort of sign-and-trade package deal with the Lakers for Howard? He could force the Lakers into that position.
-- Utah Jazz, 0.5 percent (100/1): This will be just the Jazz's seventh lottery pick. Only San Antonio and the Lakers have had fewer. Utah has some nice young talent in Derrick Favors and Enes Kanter, so I'm thinking the Jazz would take McLemore.
So who will it be? Obviously, I have no insight into how ping-pong balls will shake out. But I do think the good fortune surrounding the Kings right now will continue. Sacramento wins it.
Read more articles by Alan Matthews
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