NBA Draft Lottery: Where Odds Are Just Odd

Jeff PencekCorrespondent IIMay 16, 2011

CHARLOTTE, NC - MARCH 20:  Kyrie Irving #1 of the Duke Blue Devils moves the ball while taking on the Michigan Wolverines during the third round of the 2011 NCAA men's basketball tournament at Time Warner Cable Arena on March 20, 2011 in Charlotte, North Carolina.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

The NBA Draft Lottery year after year appears to work in mysterious ways. Since 1991, the team with the best odds to win the draft lottery has won it exactly twice.

Last year, Washington headed into the draft lottery with a team ruined by Gilbert Arenas and the death of their owner, and their 5th best chance to win comes true

In 2008, the Bulls had the 9th best odds of winning the draft lottery, and won it to get local hoops star Derrick Rose.

More often than not, determining who will win the draft lottery is based on who the top pick will be, and who desperately needs a shot in the arm. Below are the odds based on the draft lottery structure, and the skeptical odds based on how this lottery normally works.

14. Houston Rockets

Listed Odds - 0.5%

My Odds - A bit better

I'm not sure the NBA focuses on Houston as an integral franchise anymore, but they did win the Yao Ming draft lottery.

With Yao's career potentially ending, Houston needs another star. Since Houston is one of the champions of the last 30 years, they are always at least in play.

I don't see this being the year because if they win with 0.5% odds people will ask questions.

13. Phoenix Suns

Listed Odds - 0.6%

My Odds - Zero

David Stern hates the Phoenix Suns. Robert Sarver is the owner, so who can blame the commisioner.

12. Utah Jazz

Listed Odds - 8.2%

My Odds - Good, because of whose pick they own

Utah has two shots at the draft lottery, with No. 6 and No. 12, with the former pick coming from the Nets. Maybe some of that will carry over to win, except that the success of Utah is not a major NBA league concern.

Utah has a great fan base in a one sport city. They are the market.

Another factor involves the mock drafts, where a lot of them have Jimmer Fredette picked by Utah at No. 12 in a no brainer pick.

He ruled the state of Utah in basketball last year, and a No. 1 pick will only be ordained if the rest of the teams aren't worthy enough.

11. Golden State Warrios

Listed Odds - 0.8%

My Odds - Zero

San Francisco is a huge media market. But since the team plays in Oakland, the NBA world doesn't care about the success of the Warriors.

10. Milwaukee Bucks

Listed Odds - 1.1%

My Odds - 1.1%

The Bucks were the last team to miss the playoffs in the East, so maybe the NBA would want Kyrie Irving to infuse some more talent into the East and create a Milwaukee-Chicago rivalry with Irving and Derrick Rose.

I'm less confident because Kyrie Irving has star potential, and Milwaukee will not win a lottery with a league-definer up for selection.

9. Charlotte Bobcats

Listed Odds - 1.7%

My Odds - A sleeper top 3 pick

With Michael Jordan as the owner, they're a player to move up. Remember, this is the first draft lottery with Jordan as majority owner. With Kyrie Irving being a Duke guy and Charlotte moving forward one step after two back, they have potential to move up.

8. Cleveland Cavaliers

Listed Odds - 22.7%

My Odds - Top 3

The Cavaliers franchise went into a tailspin after Lebron left for South Beach. A No. 1 pick will get the franchise back in gear. In theory, they're a player.

However, it's Cleveland.

The franchise had their once in a lifetime great star and he lost him. I can't imagine the NBA plotting to throw another potential star Cleveland's way anytime soon. They may still be thrown a bone and get a Top 3 pick.

7. Detroit Pistons

Listed Odds - 4.3%

My Odds - They're moving on up

The Pistons are one of the six franchises to win multiple titles in the last 30 years. The league appears to place importance on that success.

Although the last time they were given the gift of a draft lottery present, they picked Darko Milic. Maybe that's the reason why they don't move up, or the league no longer views Detroit as a marquee franchise. I sense they have legacy and will be rewarded.

6. Utah Jazz (Previously mentioned)

5. Sacramento Kings

Listed Odds - 7.6%

My Odds - I wouldn't want to sell their season tickets

It would be interesting if Sacramento won and tried to figure out if Tyreke Evans is a two guard.

I would say that Sacramento wins the draft lottery to give them a star before their anticipated move. The risk may be that the team improves and stays in Sacramento, and the powers that be don't want that.

4. Washington Wizards

Listed Odds - 11.9%

My Odds - Still gloating over last year, maybe they move up.

Only one team has repeated as draft lottery winners, and I don't see the Wizards doing so, especially since they got their point guard of the future last year.

The top of this draft is going to be very international. If the Wizards stay in their spot in line they will get an international guy, which will work well for the the team's market.

3. Toronto Raptors

Listed Odds - 15.6%

My Odds - I would be shocked if they win it

Toronto has great basketball fans, and also lost a player to the South Beach exodus. A No. 1 pick would feel like a nice present and a way to move the only international team closer to playoff contention.

However, Toronto has the same issue as Cleveland. Big free agents have left Toronto multiple times. The NBA may feel more comfortable with a project player heading Toronto's way.

2. Cleveland Cavaliers (mentioned earlier)

1. Minnesota Timberwolves

Listed Odds - 25%

My Odds - A good chance to win the draft lottery, mostly because it would be funny

The NBA could care less about the success of a franchise in Minnesota, but the Timberwolves have a shot to win because of the draft prospects.

Ricky Rubio is still out there, from the great point guard binge of 2009. If Minnesota drafted Irving, they could trade Rubio to a team like the Knicks, or Houston.

Of course, Minnesota might pick somebody else just because they are Minnesota after all. Minnesota could have won the draft lottery last year to get the John Wall laugh going, but didn't and face the same scenario again.

My Predictions For the Draft Lottery:

3. Toronto (A make-good for Bosh and a chance at the best international player)

2. Cleveland (Good odds and a make-good for Lebron)

1. Detroit (They are the team with the highest profile that needs a point guard)


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