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Knicks Guaranteed Top-5 2019 NBA Draft Pick After Clinching Worst Record

Kyle Newport@@KyleNewportFeatured ColumnistApril 6, 2019

New York Knicks coach David Fizdale reacts during the second half of the team's NBA basketball game against the Utah Jazz, Wednesday, March 20, 2019, at Madison Square Garden in New York. The Jazz won 137-116. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)
Mary Altaffer/Associated Press

Following a 120-96 loss to the Houston Rockets on Friday, the New York Knicks (15-64) have officially clinched the worst record in the NBA this season.

New York is assured of picking no lower than fifth in the 2019 NBA draft as a result.

Tommy Beer of NBC broke down the Knicks' odds by slot:

Tommy Beer @TommyBeer

With the Knicks losing to the Rockets and the Suns beating the Pelicans last night, New York has now locked up the NBA's worst record this season, meaning NY will draft no lower than 5th. The Knicks odds for each pick: #1: 14.0% #2: 13.4% #3: 12.7% #4: 12.0% #5: 47.9%

Back in September 2017, the NBA Board of Governors approved a new lottery format that would go into effect this year. Teams that finish with the worst record will have a 14.0 percent chance of receiving the No. 1 overall pick, down from 25 percent under the previous system.

Also of note, the three worst records will have the same odds at the top pick. In recent years, the second-worst team had a 19.9 percent chance and the third-worst had a 15.6 percent chance.

The previous format guaranteed the team with the worst record a pick no lower than fourth.

A new system was created to discourage teams from tanking. Tweaking odds for draft slots figures to give losing teams incentive to try to win games down the stretch, though full ramifications of the new format are not clear as it is in its first year of existence.

This year will mark the Knicks' highest pick since 2015, when it selected Kristaps Porzingis fourth overall. The team traded Porzingis—who is still recovering from a torn ACL—prior to the Feb. 7 trade deadline as it created two max contract slots ahead of free agency this summer.

Now, the Knicks are on the verge of setting a new franchise low for futility, per ESPN's Ian Begley:

Ian Begley @IanBegley

With their loss in Houston on Friday and Phoenix’s overtime win, the Knicks (15-64) have clinched the worst record in the NBA. They will draft no lower than fifth in June. They need to go 2-1 in their final 3 games to avoid finishing with the worst record in franchise history.

While New York will miss out on the postseason for the sixth consecutive year, this year's draft class features a number of promising prospects.

National Player of the Year Zion Williamson is the overwhelming favorite to be the first player off the board in June. Duke forward R.J. Barrett, Murray State guard Ja Morant, Texas Tech guard Jarrett Culver and North Carolina guard Coby White are among the other top prospects.

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