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Sacramento is due some lottery luck.

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The ping pong balls have not been kind to Sacramento.

NBA: NBA Draft Lottery Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

In 1984, the NBA decided to change up how the draft system was organized. The Board of Governors voted to create a lottery system that determined the order of selections, rather than basing the picks solely off of win/loss standings. It’s been 34 years since the league installed those rules, and the Kings will participate in the drawing for a 23rd time tomorrow night. Outside of the 1999-2006 postseason run, this organization has been in the lottery for 23 out of 26 possible seasons. Those 23 lottery selections have produced two All-Stars, Peja Stojakovic in 1996 and DeMarcus Cousins in 2010.

Theoretically, the lottery system prevents tanking and also gives a fair shake to all of the franchises that find themselves outside of the playoff picture at the end of the season. But for Sacramento, like a Jennifer Lawrence character in a dystopian society, the odds are never in their favor:

Lottery History

Season Record Projected Lotto Position Actual Lotto Position Pick Change
Season Record Projected Lotto Position Actual Lotto Position Pick Change
1985 31-51 4th 6th -2
1986 37-45 Not in lottery N/A N/A
1987 29-53 5th 6th -1
1988 24-58 Not in lottery N/A N/A
1989 27-55 6th 1st 5
1990 23-59 6th 7th -1
1991 25-57 3rd 3rd 0
1992 29-53 6th 7th -1
1993 25-57 4th 7th -3
1994 28-54 8th 8th 0
1995 39-43 13th 13th 0
1996 39-43 Not in lottery N/A N/A
1997 34-48 11th 11th 0
1998 27-55 7th 7th 0
1999 27-23 Not in lottery N/A N/A
2000 44-38 Not in lottery N/A N/A
2001 55-27 Not in lottery N/A N/A
2002 61-21 Not in lottery N/A N/A
2003 59-23 Not in lottery N/A N/A
2004 55-27 Not in lottery N/A N/A
2005 50-32 Not in lottery N/A N/A
2006 44-38 Not in lottery N/A N/A
2007 33-49 10th 10th 0
2008 38-44 12th 12th 0
2009 17-65 1st 4th -3
2010 25-57 3rd 5th -2
2011 24-58 5th 7th -2
2012 22-44 5th 5th 0
2013 28-54 7th 7th 0
2014 28-54 7th 8th -1
2015 29-53 6th 6th 0
2016 33-49 8th 8th 0
2017 32-50 8th 3rd 5

The table shows us a depressing run of bad luck for the Kings. In 22 years, the organization has jumped up just two times. Back in 1989 we moved from 6th to 1st, selecting Pervis Ellison, and last year we moved up from 8th to 3rd. Yes, we should have ended up with Jayson Tatum, but I digress. Sacramento then moved from 3rd back to 5th due to the self-destructive trade that Vlade Divac executed back in 2015, forcing a pick-swap between the Kings and the Sixers. Aside from those two magical lotteries, the Kings have stayed neutral 11 times, picking within their original positioning, and have moved backwards 9 times, losing a total of 16 positions.

The 2018 draft will mark the 12th consecutive year in which Sacramento has sent a representative to the lotto. During the current streak, we’ve moved up one time, stayed in our same spot six times, and have been cursed by the ping pong balls four times. The most severe was back in 2009. The Kings managed to acquire the worst record in the NBA, but fell as far as legally possible, sliding back to fourth, picking Tyreke Evans with Blake Griffin going first overall. That run of bad luck continued for the next two years as Sacramento dropped from 3rd to 5th, taking DeMarcus Cousins in 2010 and again moving back two positions in 2011, from 5th to 7th, eventually selecting Jimmer Fredette. In total, the Kings lost seven draft spots in just three years.

Even with our significant jump last year, Sacramento is still very much in the negative when considering ping pong balls. Nine negative experiences compared with two positives just doesn’t add up. This long-suffering fan base is due some luck, and a reward of Luka Doncic or DeAndre Ayton would certainly go a long way toward closing that gap.