NBA Draft Lottery Predictions
I have many weird abilities, but perhaps the strangest one is that I seem to have the magic touch in picking the NBA draft lottery results. I called the Bulls last year, called the Bucks the year they got Bogut, and called the Raptors winning Bargnani. I’m not a draft oracle, and I’m not getting insider updates from David Stern, I just sort of zero in on a team for whatever reason. One of the big keys lies in the percentages, which for this year look like this:
* Sacramento Kings (17-65) – 25.0%
* Washington Wizards (19-63) – 17.8%
* Los Angeles Clippers (19-63) – 17.7%
* Oklahoma City Thunder (23-59) – 11.9%
* Minnesota Timberwolves (24-58) – 7.6%
* Memphis Grizzlies (24-58) – 7.5%
* Golden State Warriors (29-53) – 4.3%
* New York Knicks (32-50) – 2.8%
* Toronto Raptors (33-49) – 1.7%
* Milwaukee Bucks (34-48) – 1.0%
* New Jersey Nets (34-38) – 0.9%
* Charlotte Bobcats (35-47) – 0.7%
* Indiana Pacers (36-46) – 0.6%
* Phoenix Suns (46-36)- 0.5%
Any given team only has up to a 25% chance of winning, and all three of the top teams have only a 60% chance to nab a Top 3 pick. So while the odds are good that two of the top three teams will be picking in the top three, the odds are also good that at least one straggler crashes the party. Basically, the draft lottery is like if someone gives you LeBron James to win the NBA scoring title versus any other player in the field. There’s a pretty good chance LeBron takes it, but not as good a chance as the odds of every other player in basketball combined has at winning the scoring title. The Bulls had a 1.7% chance in 2008, the Blazers had a 5.3% chance in 2007, Toronto had a 8.8% chance in 2006, and Milwaukee had a 6.3% chance in 2005–you’re not looking to find someone with impossible odds, so I think you can eliminate anyone who isn’t better than 1.0%, but the odds are likely that one of those other non-top 3 teams will jump up. A sub-1% chance has happened once, when Orlando won the #1 overall pick at 41-41 following the 92-93 season, but the odds are so stacked against it that I doubt we’ll see it again in our lifetime.
That leaves us with Oklahoma City, New York, Golden State, Minnesota, Memphis, and Toronto as our spoiler teams. Of those, I get weird vibes about the last three.
Memphis has been extraordinarily unlucky. Since 2001, Memphis has landed a 4-6 pick 4 times, but never a top 3 pick. And even going back to the Vancouver days, they landed the #2 pick three years in a row, but ended up with Stromile Swift, a pouty Steve Francis who was immediately dealt for a pupu platter, and Mike Bibby. Then of course, you add on to that the fact that when Vancouver and Toronto came into the league, they were immediately shafted in the draft lotto by being given no chance to win it, and the Grizzlies seem cursed at it.
Now, Oklahoma City is the obvious winner as far as both need for a big man, hometown kid, great fanbase, and a potentially great team. But it seems a little too obvious for me that Blake Griffin winds up there. Golden State and New York are the two teams that I’m drawn to on the list. New York would be great for the league, because if they became a playoff team this year then suddenly LeBron has a lot more to think about. However, as we’ve seen the last few years, the trend hadn’t really been to reward big market teams until Rose fell into the Bulls laps.
So, calling my shot, I think Golden State moves up to the Top 3. They haven’t had a Top 3 pick since 2002, when they wound up with…Mike Dunleavy. Ew. The last time they had #1 overall, they picked Joe Smith. Also not such a great pick. I definitely like Washington to stay in the Top 3, and then I’ll say the Kings are the third team although I don’t feel strongly about that. Perhaps both Golden State and New York will move up.
I realize that this post is completely unscientific and has no basis in reality. It’s just my gut feeling, and I hope to be able to pull it out and say “I told you so”.