NBA Draft Order 2021: Updated Lottery Odds Entering Postseason

Zach Buckley@@ZachBuckleyNBANational NBA Featured ColumnistMay 19, 2021

NBA Draft Order 2021: Updated Lottery Odds Entering Postseason

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    Troy Taormina/Associated Press

    For the 10 teams already in the 2021 NBA draft lottery, help could be on the way soon.

    To get the best kind of assistance, though, they'll first need some good fortune at the June 22 lottery drawing.

    Teams with the worst record still have the best odds of striking it rich, but the league flattened those odds in recent years to curb tanking. That means this often unpredictable event is less predictable than ever.

    Still, it's worth noting where the 10 teams sit now, so we will put together the end-of-season lottery odds courtesy of Tankathon, then spotlight what to watch during the drawing.

Updated NBA Lottery Odds for Bottom 10 Teams

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    Brynn Anderson/Associated Press

    1. Houston (17-55; 14% chance to land No. 1 pick)

    2. Detroit (20-52; 14%)

    3. Orlando (21-51; 14%)

    4. Cleveland (22-50; 11.5%)

    5. Oklahoma City (22-50; 11.5%)

    6. Golden State (from Minnesota) (23-49; 9%)

    7. Toronto (29-45; 7.5%)

    8. New Orleans (31-41; 4.5%)

    9. Orlando (from Chicago) (31-41; 4.5%)

    10. Sacramento (31-41; 4.5%)

Who Wins the Cade Cunningham Sweepstakes?

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    Paul Sancya/Associated Press

    This draft class starts with five potential franchise players at the top. Despite the high-end talent, though, all of it lines up behind Cade Cunningham.

    He has enjoyed a wire-to-wire run across most mock draft boards, even with significant competition from Evan Mobley, Jalen Suggs, Jalen Green and, for a time, Jonathan Kuminga. But Cunningham is different.

    For starters, he's a jumbo-sized playmaker. He's not a point-forward, but rather a 6'8", 220-pound point guard. That means he can always see over the defense on offense and handle multiple positions on defense. It should be easy (and wildly entertaining) to build a roster around him, especially if the shooting development he showed at Oklahoma State holds up (40 percent from deep).

    He can create his own shots, find them for teammates or work off the ball as a spot-up sniper. If he maximizes his potential as a multi-positional defender, his ceiling could reach into superstar territory.

Will Any of These Picks Change Hands?

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    Andy Clayton-King/Associated Press

    The 10 teams already in the lottery aren't the only ones with something on the line.

    Due to previous transactions, several of these early selections could head elsewhere depending on where they land.

    The Timberwolves have only top-three protection on their pick, otherwise it goes to the Warriors as part of last season's D'Angelo Russell-for-Andrew Wiggins swap. The Chicago Bulls and Houston Rockets have top-four protection on their own picks. Chicago could owe the selection to Orlando from the deadline deal for Nikola Vucevic, while Houston's could go to Oklahoma City as part of swap rights exchanged during the 2019 trade involving Russell Westbrook and Chris Paul.

    Of the three teams with unpaid draft debts, the Rockets are most desperately in need of keeping their pick. Their post-James Harden rebuild could take years to complete and needs a lot more top-shelf talent at its foundation. Getting a player like Cunningham, Mobley, Green or Suggs wouldn't solve Houston's problems, but it would be a big step in the right direction.