NBA Lottery 2012: Power Ranking the 10 Unluckiest Teams in NBA Lottery History

Denim MillwardContributor IIIMay 30, 2012

NBA Lottery 2012: Power Ranking the 10 Unluckiest Teams in NBA Lottery History

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    It's nearly NBA draft lottery time, which means the fate of 14 NBA teams will rest on a bunch of ping pong balls. 

    It may seem to fans of most teams that their team has not been smiled on by lady luck when it comes to the NBA lottery, but even considering the fact that the worst team only has a 25 percent shot of landing the No. 1 pick, these 10 teams have had extraordinarily bad luck.

    For the record, the statistics provided are going back only to the 1990 NBA draft. Though the lottery was held prior to this year, 1990 was the first year the NBA conducted the lottery in the "weighted" manner it is done in today. 

#10: Charlotte Bobcats

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    The Bobcats' draft history has been a brief but disappointing one. 

    Despite being in the lottery all but one year since its existence, the newest Charlotte basketball franchise has only netted one second overall pick and one third, turning those picks into the serviceable but underwhelming Emeka Okafor and the draft bust poster boy Adam Morrison.

    Charlotte, for surprisingly the first time, has the best shot at landing the No. 1 overall pick this year. Perhaps this is the year their luck turns around and they can get themselves off lists like these. 

9. Golden State

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    Perhaps the Warriors' upcoming change in scenery will improve their lottery fortunes. 

    Despite being in the lottery more often than not since 1990, Golden State has only procured one No. 1 pick in a relatively weak draft, selecting the unforgettably forgettable Joe Smith. 

    Golden State also fell to the third pick in 2002 despite having the best record and missed out on coveted big man Yao Ming

    Golden State's draft funk has been around since they selected Joe Barry Carroll, and barring a last-minute deal with Utah to guarantee their 2012 pick stays in Golden State's possession, Golden State could lose their pick altogether if a team behind them in the standings leapfrogs them into the lottery. 

8. Toronto Raptors

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    It's hard to really consider a team that has drafted first overall in the past 10 years unlucky, but Toronto has not seen any good fortune in the NBA draft lottery.  Despite being a lottery team for all but a few years since their inception, Toronto has only had two top-three picks. 

    The Raptors won the lottery in 2006, but although first overall pick Andrea Bargnani continues to put up good numbers, he falls short of what is usually expected out of the No. 1 overall pick. 

    Even when the Raptors were lucky, they were unlucky. 

7. Atlanta Hawks

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    The Hawks have done a pretty good job of keeping out of the lottery in recent years.

    Besides being a good indicator of sustained success, staying away from the lottery means Atlanta's poor luck in the lottery won't be repeated. 

    The Hawks have only had three top-three picks since 1990, most recently in 2005 when they dropped to the second overall pick despite having the worst record. The Hawks squandered a chance to land Chris Paul or Deron Williams and instead chose Marvin Williams. 

    The third pick of the 2001 NBA draft once belonged to the Hawks and was a great pick in Pau Gasol, but was unfortunately traded to the Grizzlies

6. New Jersey/Brooklyn Nets

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    The team that New Jersey governor bade good riddance to has had its fair chances at landing a franchise player via the draft. 

    Thus far, those efforts have been completely unsuccessful. 

    The Nets defied the odds in 2000 and won the first overall pick, which is great except for the fact that the 2000 NBA draft was quite possibly the weakest draft in NBA history. Kenyon Martin, New Jersey's selection at No. 1 in 2000, is now a bench player for the Clippers

    Prior to Martin, the Nets hadn't selected in the top three since 1990 and 1991, when two immensely talented players who New Jersey hitched their wagons to, Derrick Coleman and Kenny Anderson, never lived up to their potential. 

5. Vancouver/Memphis Grizzlies

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    What's an NBA draft article about bad luck without a sweet picture of Big Country?

    The Grizzlies have had a reasonable amount of top three selections in 11 lottery appearances (one No. 3 pick and four No. 2 picks) and have seen mixed results from the draft picks. 

    The reason the Grizzlies crack this list at No. 5 is because they've had the worst record and thus the best chance at pick No. 1 four different times and have still never won the lottery.  The Grizzlies had the best shot at the No. 1 pick in 2007, where they could've nabbed Kevin Durant and been set for the next 10 years. They've also never picked above their projected spot. 

    Somewhere in an isolated cabin in Fort Smith, Arkansas, Bryant Reeves is nodding his head sadly. 

4. Denver Nuggets

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    Just when you think I couldn't top the Big Country photo, here is a sweet glamor shot of former Denver Nuggets lottery pick Nikoloz Tskitishvili. You are welcome, dear readers. 

    The Nuggets have been a part of eight different draft lotteries, have never moved up to pick ahead of their projected spot and have never picked in the top two. Sure, one of the two No. 3 overall picks worked out pretty well for the Nuggets. 

    The other turned out to be Raef Lafrentz. 

    I'll be right back, I have to go find an obscure photo of Raef Lafrentz....

3. Boston Celtics

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    It's hard to imagine a team that has more championship banners than anyone else in their sport could be considered unlucky in any facet of the game. 

    However, Boston's appearances in the lottery have seen a paltry yield. 

    Boston's single top-three pick since 1990 was actually a good one in Chauncey BIllups. Too bad the C's didn't give Billups long enough to prove how good he was. 

    Boston's main unfortunate turns in the lottery weren't about who they got, but who they missed out on. 

    The two years the Celtics had the best chances of snagging the No. 1 pick they missed out on two guys named Kevin Durant and Tim Duncan. 

2. Minnesota Timberwolves

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    By my quick calculations, the Timberwolves are the leader in the clubhouse for lottery appearances with a whopping 15 since 1990. 

    In those 15 draft lotteries, the Timberwolves have never picked No. 1 despite having the best shot at the top pick two different times. More significantly, Minnesota has only had a top three pick in three of the 15 lotteries they've taken part in. 

    Finally, the Timberwolves have had one of the three worst records in the league and still didn't end up with a top-three pick four different times. 

    Are you as surprised as I was when you see there is a team that has been even more unlucky than Minnesota?

1. Sacramento Kings

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    The above photo depicts Mitch Richmond, who was traded to Sacramento in exchange for Billy Owens, the third pick in the 1991 NBA draft. 

    Billy Owens was the only top-three draft pick the Sacramento Kings have had since 1990 in thirteen NBA draft lotteries. 

    Shocking, isn't it?

    Since the Owens-Richmond trade, which was at least one thing that turned out well for the Kings, Sacramento has had one of the three worst records three times and has only managed to get one No. 3 pick. In 2009, the Kings had the very worst record in the league and still were leapfrogged by three different teams. 

    It's official: ping pong balls hate Sacramento. 


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