NBA Draft Lottery: What Might Have Been

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As we move past the two-month mark of no NBA basketball games to watch or report on, there was another major event that has been missed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This week the NBA Draft Lottery would have taken place.  For now, the Lottery is on hold until the league determines whether the season will resume or will be canceled.  No announcement regarding that decision is not expected until at least June 1st.

For the uninitiated, the NBA holds a draft every year in which the teams take turns selecting amateur players from US college basketball teams and other eligible players including international players.  The league uses a lottery system for all 14 teams which did not qualify for the playoffs.

From Wikipedia

“The team with the worst record, or the team that holds the draft rights of the team with the worst record, has the best chance to obtain a higher draft pick. After the top four positions are selected (from the lottery slotting system), the remainder of the first-round draft order is in inverse order of the win-loss record for the remaining teams, or the teams who originally held the lottery rights if they were traded. The lottery does not determine the draft order in the subsequent rounds of the draft.”

When league play was suspended on March 12th, the teams with the fourteen poorest win-loss records starting with worse were the following:

Team Win-Loss Record % of #1 overall pick
Golden State Warriors 15-50 14.0%
Cleveland Cavaliers 19-46 14.0%
Minnesota Timberwolves 19-45 14.0%
Atlanta Hawks 20-47 12.5%
Detroit Pistons 20-46 10.5%
New York Knicks 21-45 9.0%
Chicago Bulls 22-43 7.5%
Charlotte Hornets 23-42 6.0%
Washington Wizards 24-40 4.5%
Phoenix Suns 26-39 3.0%
San Antonio Spurs 27-36 2.0%
Sacramento Kings 28-36 1.5%
New Orleans Pelicans 28-36 1.0%
Portland Trail Blazers 29-37 0.5%

In future articles, we will be examining who some of the top draft prospects who may be expected to be selected.  Also, we will conduct at least one mock draft as we try to predict what players will be heading to which teams.  But the first fun thing we will do is to simulate the lottery and see if there would be any changes in the order of selections.

In order to do this, we will be using, an American based sports website established in 2000.  So after several times of rerunning the sim (with my eyes shut), I decided to do one more (this time looking at the screen) and these were the results:

1. Cleveland Cavaliers (rose one notch)
2. Sacramento Kings (rose ten notches!!)
3. New York Knicks (rose three notches)
4. Golden State Warriors (fell three notches, out of the top spot, ouch!!)
5. Minnesota Timberwolves (fell two notches)
6. Atlanta Hawks (fell two notches)
7. Detroit Pistons (fell two notches)
8. Chicago Bulls (fell one notch)
9. Charlotte Hornets (fell one notch)
10. Washington Wizards (fell one notch)
11. Phoenix Suns (fell one notch)
12. San Antonio Spurs (fell one notch)
13. New Orleans Pelicans (same position)
14. Portland Trail Blazers (same position)

Who would have thought that a bunch of ping pong balls bouncing in a machine could sway the future fortunes for fourteen NBA franchises, yet that is the theater created by the NBA Draft Lottery.  We can look forward to the real lottery at its appointed time whenever NBA action resumes.  Until then, we can enjoy our time dreaming and imagining what our favorite teams will do next.

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