It’s pretty ironic that during basketball’s age of analytics, where teams spend millions of dollars to achieve even the slightest of advantages, the fate of numerous franchises is dependent on how a ping pong ball bounces.
Tuesday night, the 14 teams that failed to qualify for the playoffs will have their future determined by the NBA Draft lottery, a combination of 1,001 numbers to determine the draft order.
The 2015 NBA Draft class features numerous prospects capable of becoming star caliber players, such as Kentucky center Karl-Anthony Towns, Duke center Jahlil Okafor, guard Emmanuel Mudiay who bypassed the NCAA to play a season in China, Ohio State guard D’Angelo Russell and Latvian forward Kristaps Porzingis.
The team with the best odds hasn’t claimed the first overall pick since Orlando in 2004, when the team decided to select Dwight Howard.
Over the past 10 drafts, the team with the first or second best draft lottery odds hasn’t won the draft lottery, as the winner has averaged the 5.9th best odds.
The team with the third, fifth and ninth best odds has won the right to select first twice, and the only team to win multiple times has been Cleveland.
The Cavaliers won the right to select Kyrie Irving in 2011, but only after completing a deal with the Clippers for the rights to their selection. Then Cleveland won the draft lottery outright each of the past two years, winning in 2013 with the third best odds and last season with the ninth best odds.
Tuesday, the league conducts its draft lottery and Shatter the Glass offers a look at each team’s needs heading into the 2015-16 season.
Instead of losing perennial All-Star Kevin Love in free agency, Minnesota opted to deal him to Cleveland for Andrew Wiggins, the first overall pick of the 2014 NBA Draft. Wiggins has proven to be a foundation piece for the Timberwolves, even as the team dropped their final 12 games of the regular season. Another successful draft could provide the best young duo in the league outside of Oklahoma City.
Chance of winning the lottery- 25%
The summer of 2015 is critical for New York, as the team is armed with cap space for the first time in five years and can win the draft lottery for the first time since the initial lottery in 1985. If the pick is attractive enough, the Knicks have already expressed interest in potentially trading it to provide some immediate help for 30-year-old forward Carmelo Anthony.
Chance of winning the lottery- 19.9%
The strategy of holding out a promising young player worked once, and the roster for Philadelphia will again boast two of the most promising first year players in the league. Nerlens Noel emerged as one of the most promising centers in the league last season. The 76ers are guaranteed to land a top five selection, and will have Joel Embiid, the center out of Kansas that sat out all of last year recovering from a broken leg suffered just days before last year’s draft lottery.
Chance of winning the lottery- 15.6%
Los Angeles landed Julius Randle with the seventh overall pick last year, the first time it selected in the lottery since landing Andrew Bynum with the 10th overall pick in the 2005 NBA Draft, but his season lasted just 14 minutes until he broke his leg. Injuries were rampant for the Lakers all of last season, sending the team to the worst record in the Western Conference.
Chance of winning the lottery- 11.9%
Orlando hasn’t qualified for the post season since dealing away Dwight Howard three years ago. The team already has a promising young core, with Nikola Vucevic, Victor Oladipo and a pair of lottery selections from last season in Aaron Gordon and Elfrid Payton. The Magic fired its coach midway through the year and can drastically change the makeup of the team, with a new coach and another promising draft selection. The team may be poised to make a major move to bring in a veteran this off-season.
Chance of winning the lottery- 8.8%
Trade rumors have already circulated around DeMarcus Cousins, the most accomplished player yet to make a post season appearance. The Kings have continually struggled in making draft selections, as none of the eight players it has chosen since selecting Cousins with the fifth overall pick in 2010 have gone on to average even 11 points per game in the NBA.
Chance of winning the lottery- 6.3%
Denver is another team poised for a complete rebuild this off-season, as the team has already let its demands for point guard Ty Lawson be known. By seeking two first round selections for the guard that dished out 9.6 assists a game last season, a figure only surpassed by Chris Paul and John Wall, the team is hoping to build a young core for the future. The Nuggets already have another first round pick in the 2015 NBA Draft, selecting in place of Cleveland as part of the Timofey Mozgov deal completed at the deadline.
Chance of winning the lottery- 4.3%
The Pistons failed to strike a long term deal with Greg Monroe, allowing him to become an unrestricted free agent this summer. Monroe averaged 15.9 points, a career-high 10.2 rebounds and thrived alongside Andre Drummond after the stunning release of Josh Smith in early December. As new coach and president of basketball operations Stan Van Gundy continues to rebuild the roster to his suiting, the selection Detroit makes will likely make a statement on the future of Monroe or restricted free agent point guard Reggie Jackson’s future with the franchise.
Chance of winning the lottery- 2.8%
The Hornets took a major swing in free agency last summer, luring Lance Stephenson away from the Pacers with a three-year $27 million deal. Stephenson was nearly an All-Star during his last year in Indiana, but his new team was willing to deal him just five months after singing him to the contract, as he went on to average 11.5 points on 37.6 percent shooting from the field. The Hornets are hoping last year’s first round selection, Noah Vonleh, can contribute at the power forward position or the team may select another player at the position.
Chance of winning the lottery- 1.7%
Miami made a risky trade at the deadline last February, landing Goran Dragic even though he didn’t have a long term contract in place. The Heat believe it has a group ready to return to the playoffs, with Chris Bosh coming back from a blood clot, Dwyane Wade successfully played in 62 games and Hassan Whiteside emerged at the center position. One of the biggest needs facing the team is athleticism, but the team may select a point guard if it believes it can’t come to terms with Dragic on a long term deal.
Chance of winning the lottery- 1.1%
Even though the Pacers were without Paul George for the first 76 games of the season, they were still in playoff contention until the final day of the regular season. Indiana has already hinted at making major changes, as team president Larry Bird has already indicated he is willing to deal center Roy Hibbert. The Pacers haven’t been in the draft lottery since selecting George with the 10th overall pick of the 2010 NBA Draft.
Chance of winning the lottery- 0.8%
The most talented player in the class of 2013 may have been selected with the 27th overall pick. Hours after Denver selected center Rudy Gobert, it traded him to the Jazz for Erick Green and cash. Last season, Gobert established himself as one of the most dominant defenders in the league, as he averaged 2.3 blocks per game to anchor a young team. The Jazz hope to add more talent around Gobert, Gordon Hayward, Derrick Favors and Dante Exum. Utah may be another team looking to make a deal to bring a much needed veteran presence to the roster.
Chance of winning the lottery- 0.7%
The Suns were one of the most active teams at the trade deadline, sending out point guards Goran Dragic and Isaiah Thomas only to land Brandon Knight, a player eligible to become a restricted free agent this summer. Phoenix unexpectedly dealt a first round pick to Boston to complete the deal for Thomas in February, one that can carry tremendous weight. If the Lakers pick falls outside of the top-five, the Celtics will select in their place.
Chance of winning the lottery- 0.6%
The Thunder just missed out on the playoffs, as a New Orleans victory resulted in elimination on the final day of the regular season, even though Kevin Durant was limited to just 27 appearances as he recovered from a trio of surgeries on his fractured left foot. Oklahoma City has been the most successful franchise at the draft over the past 10 years, as it has selected Durant, Russell Westbrook, James Harden and Serge Ibaka. The team is hoping to move up in the draft, land another promising player to help convince Durant to remain with the organization when he becomes an unrestricted free agent in 2016.
Chance of winning the lottery- 0.5%