The NBA will host its draft lottery on Thursday at 8:30 p.m. ET on ESPN. The following will prepare you for the festivities, which somehow feature the two teams that won the title from 2015-18 at the top of the order.
Who has the best lottery odds?
After the NBA smoothed lottery odds for the 14 teams involved and expanded to four drawings last season, the teams with the three worst records all have equal odds to secure both the No. 1 overall pick and a top-four selection. That means the Golden State Warriors, Cleveland Cavaliers and Minnesota Timberwolves each have a 14 percent chance to land the top pick and a 52.1 percent chance of remaining in the top four (each with a 13.4 percent chance to pick second, 12.7 percent to pick third and 12 percent to pick fourth).
The odds of getting the first, second, third or fourth pick each decline 1-2 percent for every slot lower in the lottery order. For example, the Atlanta Hawks — fourth behind the Warriors, Cavs and Wolves — own 12.5 percent odds for the No. 1 pick, 12.2 percent for No. 2, 11.9 percent for No. 3 and 11.5 percent for No. 4.
No team can drop more than four spots from its current position.
What is the draft lottery order?
12. Sacramento Kings
10. Phoenix Suns
4. Atlanta Hawks
3. Minnesota Timberwolves
2. Cleveland Cavaliers
1. Golden State Warriors
Who is expected to be picked in the top four?
LaMelo Ball, Anthony Edwards, Obi Toppin and Tyrese Haliburton are listed as the top four prospects this year, according to Yahoo Sports NBA draft expert Krysten Peek. Highly touted high school Class of 2019 prospects James Wiseman, Cole Anthony and R.J. Hampton are also in her top 14. On the whole, the 2020 draft class is considered weak, especially by comparison to last year’s draft featuring Zion Williamson.
A quick rundown ...
LaMelo Ball, Illawarra (National Basketball League)
The younger brother of New Orleans Pelicans point guard Lonzo Ball, LaMelo is an elite ball-handler and creator who struggles with consistency on his shot and defense. He averaged 17 points (38/25/72 shooting splits), 7.4 rebounds and 6.8 assists in 12 games for his NBL team before a foot injury cut his season short.
Anthony Edwards, University of Georgia
A 6-foot-5, 225-pound guard in the vain of Donovan Mitchell or Dwyane Wade, Edwards averaged 19.1 points (40/29/77 splits), 5.2 rebounds and 2.8 assists in 32 games for the Bulldogs prior to the pandemic.
Obi Toppin, University of Dayton
Toppin fits what every team is looking for in today’s NBA — a long (6-foot-9), athletic wing who can play multiple positions and stretch the floor. He averaged 20 points (63/39/70 splits), 7.6 rebounds and 2.2 assists as a sophomore for the Flyers this past season. He is three years older than Ball and Edwards.
Tyrese Haliburton, Iowa State University
Haliburton is the thinking man’s pick. He is considered a high-IQ guard whose advanced statistics jump off the page. Unheralded as a freshman, his star rose considerably in draft circles after averaging 15.2 points (59/42/82 splits), 5.9 rebounds and 6.5 assists as a 20-year-old sophomore for the Cyclones this season.
What else is at stake in the lottery?
Every lottery team owns the rights to its own pick but the Memphis Grizzlies. Their selection would convey to the Boston Celtics if it does not land in the top four on Thursday night. If the Grizzlies do move into the top four, they will retain their pick and instead owe the Celtics an unprotected first-round pick next year.
As it is, Celtics assistant general manager Mike Zarren — a longtime proponent of draft lottery reform — shared a handy graph of lottery probabilities created by his team’s director of analytics, David Sparks.
Here's another @dsparks image, showing the outcomes for each lottery pick (with the team colors, as opposed to the other image, where the colors are by pick).https://t.co/jooGDz4X73 pic.twitter.com/larOoj6guD— Mike Zarren (@mikezarren) August 20, 2020
May the pingpong balls be ever in your favor.
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