NBA Draft 2020: Rounding Up Knicks' Lottery Odds

David KenyonFeatured ColumnistAugust 20, 2020

RJ Barrett
RJ BarrettJohn Bazemore/Associated Press

Pingpong balls will begin flying Thursday at the 2020 NBA draft lottery, and the New York Knicks are hoping for some good fortune.

After finishing with the sixth-worst regular-season record in the league, New York has a decent chance at landing the No. 1 pick in October's draft. Yes, the team is mathematically more likely to pick later in the first round. But there's nothing wrong with taking some optimism into the lottery, either.

As the countdown to the lottery drops to hours and minutes, there's no better time to outline the Knicks' possible outcomes with a few prospects to monitor.

ESPN will televise the results of the lottery at 8:30 p.m. ET Thursday.


New York's Chances at No. 1

The big number for Knicks fans? Nine.

According to NBA.com, New York has a nine percent chance at the first overall pick. If you're not a math wizard, this comes out to roughly a 1-in-11 opportunity of standing atop the 2020 draft.

In order, the Knicks trail the Golden State Warriors, Cleveland Cavaliers and Minnesota Timberwolves (14 percent each), the Atlanta Hawks (12.5) and Detroit Pistons (10.5). For reference, New York is ahead of the Chicago Bulls (7.5) and Charlotte Hornets (6).

Given the team's immense need for a reliable and creative point guard, LaMelo Ball is the most likely target at No. 1. While making 12 appearances in Australia last season, he averaged 17 points, 7.6 rebounds and 6.8 assists.

New head coach Tom Thibodeau could engineer the roster around Ball, RJ Barrett and Mitchell Robinson.


Top-4 Pick for the Knicks

In something as random as the draft lottery, the Knicks' string of bad luck is mathematically stunning.

RealGM has a complete list of New York's outcomes, and they're not pretty. The NBA introduced the lottery in 1985 when the Knicks selected future Hall of Fame center Patrick Ewing. They ascended from third to first, so it was a good start. But since then, the Knicks have never had a rise in the lottery.

Not once.

During 16 other lottery entrancesincluding each of the last six yearsNew York has stayed put 10 times and dropped at least one spot six times.

This year, per Tankathon, the Knicks have 37.2 percent odds at a top-four spot. The breakdown is 9.0 for first, followed by 9.2, 9.4 and 9.6 for second, third and fourth, respectively.

If Ball is gone, New York might not shy from drafting any position other than a center. In that case, top targets could be Georgia guard Anthony Edwards, Ratiopharm Ulm point guard Killian Hayes, Maccabi Tel Aviv wing Deni Avdija or perhaps Iowa State guard Tyrese Haliburton.


Every Other Possibility

The Knicks selected Kevin Knox ninth overall in the 2018 draft.
The Knicks selected Kevin Knox ninth overall in the 2018 draft.Frank Franklin II/Associated Press

The Knicks are hoping for a better outcome, of course. Nevertheless, not only is it possible they end up somewhere between sixth and 10th, it's the mathematical expectation. And there's a 50.4 percent chance New York picks seventh or eighth.

  • No. 6: 8.6 percent
  • No. 7: 29.8
  • No. 8: 20.6
  • No. 9: 3.7
  • No. 10: 0.1

Given the extent of this range, the list of noteworthy prospects is longparticularly with no NBA combine or early rumors for private workouts in this unique offseason.

Hayes and Haliburton are possibilities here, too, depending on whether there's a run on forwards and centers. That topic can't be addressed until the official order is known. Other guards of note are Alabama's Kira Lewis Jr. and UNC's Cole Anthony.

The Knicks may prefer the reasonable "best player available" method instead of looking to fill a specific need.

Under the BPA approach, New York will probably consider Dayton forward Obi Toppin, USC big Onyeka Okongwu, Auburn wing Isaac Okoro and Florida State wing Devin Vassell.


Follow Bleacher Report writer David Kenyon on Twitter @Kenyon19_BR.