I hate the NBA Draft Lottery. It is by far the stupidest thing that can happen in the NBA that can change the trajectory of your entire franchise.
I also hate it because I and other Kings fans have had to sit through this stupid thing for the last decade. We’ve gone from hoping we’ll jump into the top three to just hoping that we don’t drop. We have even more added anxiety this year as the Kings can’t possibly win the #1 pick, but also could lose out on their other pick from the DeMarcus Cousins trade if it falls in the top three.
The exact odds for the Kings are a little weird because of all their moving pieces. Because they can only land in the top three if both they and the Sixers land in the top three, they have a smaller chance of getting there than it initially looks, but they can also jump up to the 5th, 6th or 7th picks as well. Here are their exact odds to get each pick (including the New Orleans pick currently slotted at 10th), as broken down by Celtics Assistant GM David Sparks:
#1 pick: 0%
#2 pick: 0.7%
#3 pick: 1.7%
#4 pick: 0%
#5 pick: 3.5%
#6 pick: 3.6%
#7 pick: 0.5%
#8 pick: 72.5%
#9 pick: 16.8%
#10 pick: 87.8%
#11 pick: 8.9%
#12 pick: 0.2%
#13 pick: 0.01%
#14 pick: 0%
The odds that the Pelicans jump up into the top three and Sacramento loses their pick is exactly 4%, broken down as follows:
The absolutely ideal scenario for the Kings is for the Pelicans to stay at #10 and for the 76ers to win the lottery and the Kings to come up 2nd. That would give the Kings the #2 pick and the #10 pick. There are quite a number of different ways this can play out for the Kings. Here they are, in order of likelihood:
SCENARIO 1: NOBODY MOVE, NOBODY GETS HURT
Neither the Pelicans pick or the Kings pick moves into the top three, and not enough teams behind the Kings pick move into the top 3 to kick the Kings pick out of the top 10.
RESULT: The Kings have two picks in the 8 - 12 range
PAIN-O-METER: 2/10. Basically just the lingering numbness of being kicked in the face by the lottery the last ten years. Could go up to 3 or 4 if enough teams jump the Kings and Pelicans.
SCENARIO 2: MOVING UP BUT JUST A BIT
The Kings pick moves into the top 3 and neither the Pelicans pick nor the Sixers pick moves into the top 3. While this means the Kings keep the Pelicans pick, this also means that the Sixers get to swap picks with the Kings.
RESULT: Kings have one pick in the 5-7 range, and another in 10-12 range
PAIN-O-METER: 5/10. Yeah, we moved up a few spots, but the first time we get lotto luck IN TWENTY-EIGHT YEARS (shoutout to Tim’s fantastic article from Sunday) happens to be the time we owe a swap. Blegh.
SCENARIO 3: THE LOTTO GODS HAVE FINALLY FORGIVEN US
The Kings pick and the Sixers pick move into the top 3, and the Pelicans pick stays put.
RESULT: The Kings have one pick at either 2 or 3, and another at either 10 or 11
PAIN-O-METER: N/A. This would be the best case scenario. Tears of joy finally flow in Sacramento.
SCENARIO 4: LOSE A PICK
The Pelicans pick moves into the top 3, but not enough teams behind the Kings pick move up to kick the Kings pick out of the top 10.
RESULT: Kings have one pick at either 9 or 10.
PAIN-O-METER: 9/10. Oooooh boy this would be bad. The Kings would be owed the Pelicans pick next year, but thats after Pelicans get a full year of DeMarcus Cousins and Anthony Davis. Its not going to be a great pick. Thanks for accepting the pick protection, Vlade!
SCENARIO 5: LOSE A PICK PART DEUX
Three teams behind the Kings pick move into the top 3, but not the Pelicans pick. The Kings pick is conveyed to the Bulls.
RESULT: Kings have one pick at either 12 or 13
PAIN-O-METER: 10/10. YIKES. Not only do the Kings lose their own pick to the Bulls, but the Pelicans pick gets kicked back a few spots. Blood will be spilled.
SCENARIO 6: A SLAP IN THE FACE BUT WITH A SMALL CONSOLATION PRIZE
The Kings pick and the Pelicans pick both move into the top 3, but the Sixers pick stays put. The Sixers swap with the Kings into the top 3. The Pelicans keep their own pick.
RESULT: Kings have one pick at 6 or 7.
PAIN-O-METER: 8/10. The Kings lose the Pelicans pick, but at least gain a couple spots on their own pick. Still, brutal.
SCENARIO 7: SWEET AND SOUR
The Kings, Pelicans, and Sixers all make it into the Top 3. The Pelicans keep their own pick.
RESULT: The Kings have one pick at either 2 or 3.
PAIN-O-METER: 5/10. A top 3 pick for the first time since 1989! But with a grave cost. Feels bad man.
SCENARIO 8: THE FIRE RISES
Three teams behind the Kings pick jump into the top 3. One of those teams is the Pelicans.
RESULT: THE KINGS HAVE NOTHING
PAIN-O-METER: ∞/10. CONTRACT THE FRANCHISE.
Yup, I want off this ride.
The lottery will be aired tonight at 5 p.m. PT on ESPN with winners likely revealed sometime around 5:30 p.m. We will host an open thread at around 4:30 p.m.
Just for fun, until then, here’s Tankathon’s NBA Draft Lottery simulator. Do it once and post your results in the comments below. I got the 8th and 10th, with Boston, Philadelphia and New York jumping to the top three. That result is what the odds say will happen for the Kings, and at this point I’ll be happy just not to get screwed by the bounce of a ping pong ball.