For the second straight season, the Lakers have been one of the bottom teams in the NBA – record wise. Yes, this sucks, but there’s usually some good that comes out of being in the bottom of the standings, such as “earning” a better draft pick and, well, that’s it. The Lakers finished the season with a pitiful record of 17-65, only worse than the 10-win Philadelphia 76ers.
What The Numbers Show
As we already know, if the Lakers aren’t in the top 3 in the draft lottery, they’ll lose their pick to the 76ers. With that said, the Lakers have a 55.8% of being in the top 3 (keeping their pick) this year. Winning the lottery, and receiving the #1 overall pick? 19.9%, just behind Philadelphia at 25%.
How The Lottery Works
Some of you may know how the draft lottery works, but some of you may be a bit confused. It’s a little more in-depth than you might think. The draft lottery will determine ONLY the top 3 picks, with the remaining teams being placed behind the top 3, in order of worst to best record.
The ping pong ball selection occurs in a “secret” room, just minutes before the lottery is aired on TV. The room consists of many people, first being a representative from the accounting firm Ernst and Young, to oversee the process. Also in the room, we have one representative from each of the 14 teams in the lottery, who are not allowed to have any electronic device, and cannot communicate to the outside world until the #1 pick is released on national television. Inside the room is also the ping pong machine operator, and a timekeeper. The machine will run for 20 seconds before the first ball is chosen, then 10 seconds for the remaining three balls. Lastly, NBA officials and reporters will be allowed in the room, with the reporters also not allowed to have any electronic device.
There will be ping pong balls numbered 1 through 14, and are 1,001 total four-digit combinations available to be chosen, with 1,000 of the combinations being distributed to the teams, and 1 number being thrown away. In the unlikely odds of that 1 combination being chosen, a re-pick will occur. The team with the best odds this year will be the Philadelphia 76ers, having 250 of the 1,000 possible combinations. The 13 remaining teams will be given the remaining numbers, with the best record team only receiving 5 of the 1,000 total combinations.
Last year, the winning ping pong ball combination was 1-3-7-6. The Lakers, finishing 2nd in the lottery, had the combination 6-8-4-11, so if anyone wants to get that tattooed on them or anything, there it is. Minnesota, the winning lottery team last year, did have the best odds, having 250 of the 1,000 total combinations. They had such good odds, they actually had the winning combination for the first pick and third pick, but obviously there was a re-draw for the third pick. This pick, going to the Philadelphia 76ers, was combination 7-2-13-10.
2016 Draft Lottery Odds
#1 – Philadelphia 76ers 25%
#2 – Los Angeles Lakers 19.9%
#3 – Boston Celtics 15.6% (via Brooklyn)
#4 – Phoenix Suns 11.9%
#5 – Minnesota Timberwolves 8.8%
#6 – New Orleans Pelicans 6.3%
#7 – Denver Nuggets 4.3% (via NY)
#8 – Sacramento Kings* 1.9%
#9 – Toronto Raptors* 1.9% (via Denver)
#10 – Milwaukee Bucks* 1.8%
#11 – Orlando Magic 0.8%
#12 – Utah Jazz 0.7%
#13 – Phoenix Suns 0.6% (via Washington)
#14 – Chicago Bulls 0.5%
* On April 15, a 3-way tie was broken through random drawings
As you can see, the draft lottery is very random. What I will soon say here cannot be argued and is not wrong, just an absolute random opinion.
Like some years in the past, I think we’ll see surprises. I’ve already accepted that the Basketball Gods will not love us 2 years in a row, and that we’ll lose our pick. But here goes my realistic opinion.
So here I am, sitting on the couch with my dad on a Tuesday night in the middle of May. We do this every year together, since it’s kind of a big deal the last couple years. The first few picks are nothing out of the ordinary, looking good so far… “Pick number 6 will be made by, the Minnesota Timberwolves.” Welp, that means the New Orleans Pelicans have hopped into the top 3, and the Lakers have been (for the time being) passed. But good for them, right? They battled season ending injuries all year; they lost something like their top 9 guys due to season ending injuries? I guess the Basketball Gods felt bad for them. “The 5th pick in the draft will go to, the Boston Celtics.” So what does this mean? The Phoenix Suns have also jumped into the top 3, passing the Lakers for the time being. And this is now the most nerve wracking moment of the night; if the Lakers are called here, they lose their pick. “The 4th pick in the 2016 draft will be selected by, the Philadelphia 76ers.” What a relief, we’re in the top 3, along with New Orleans and Phoenix. I guess that’s just how the lottery goes. Last year, the 76ers were projected to earn the 3rd pick, and they did just that. This year, they fall from 1 to 4, Lord help the city of Philadelphia. The best part about this? The Celtics will get jumped twice, falling to the 5th pick in the 2016 draft, having to reach for someone like Buddy Hield.
After a very, very, very, very long commercial break, consisting of freaking out on Twitter, we’re back. I guess in my thoughts, we can’t get too greedy, since we’ll end up falling back a spot, and missing out on Ben Simmons or Brandon Ingram. Phoenix, having an 11.9% chance of winning the 1st overall pick, will draft 2nd. The Pelicans had some Basketball God help on their side, and will have their choice of Simmons or Ingram in June, with the number one pick.
The Lakers will keep their pick, yay! We’ll start the offseason off 3 for 3 on my checklist, after going 1 for 1 (Firing Byron), and 2 for 2 (Hiring Luke). Keeping the pick is huge for me, as it is for most Lakers fans, because we’re either getting another young, top prospect, or potentially trading the pick, which should be very valuable.
The draft lottery is a week from today, and could be another franchise changing night for the Lakers. Stay tuned for Part 2 of this piece, which will release just after the lottery!