2021 NBA Draft Lottery: Full Odds and Teams with Most at Stake
Since adopting a modified odds system in 2019, the team with the NBA's worst record has yet to win the lottery. That's bad news for the Houston Rockets but makes Tuesday's draft-pick draw even more intriguing.
Starting in 2019, the team with the worst record has no longer been the sole owner of the best draft odds. The three worst records now share the distinction at 14 percent apiece. That rule change helped the Minnesota Timberwolves get the No. 1 pick last year and the right to draft Anthony Edwards.
This year, the stakes feel even higher. This class might have more depth at the top, but it's hard to beat the prospect profile of Cade Cunningham. With point guard skills in a wing's body, he's the kind of prospect who fits on any roster and feels like he has true superstar potential.
While everyone could use a player like Cunningham, there are some teams that should be even more desperate to land him or another one of the top prospects in this class than others. Here's a look at the full odds for the first pick and who could most use a win when the picks are drawn at 8:30 p.m. ET on Tuesday.
Odds to Land No. 1 Pick
Houston Rockets: 14.0 percent
Detroit Pistons: 14.0 percent
Orlando Magic 14.0 percent
Oklahoma City Thunder: 11.5 percent
Cleveland Cavaliers: 11.5 percent
Minnesota Timberwolves: 9.0 percent
Toronto Raptors: 7.5 percent
Chicago Bulls: 6.0 percent
Sacramento Kings: 4.5 percent
New Orleans Pelicans: 4.5 percent
Charlotte Hornets: 4.5 percent
San Antonio Spurs: 1.8 percent
Indiana Pacers: 1.7 percent
Golden State Warriors: 0.5 percent
Full lottery odds via NBA.com
It's obvious that the team with the worst record has a lot riding on the lottery, but it's especially true for the Rockets. For starters, should this pick fall to No. 5 it will convey to the Oklahoma City Thunder.
That would be disastrous after the season the Rockets just had. The franchise tried to retool on the fly in a post-James Harden world by choosing Christian Wood to join forces with John Wall, whom they got in the Russell Westbrook trade.
However, they have a boatload of picks in the future with the Harden trade bringing in four first-round picks on its own.
Maximizing the value of those picks starts with the lottery, and getting the rights to draft Cunningham with the first pick would kick-start what could be a difficult rebuild in Houston.
Free agency isn't going to be a prime source of improvement for the Rockets. John Wall's $44 million cap hit is still going to be restrictive when it comes to the open market. Instead, getting a potential superstar with their first pick and utilizing the 23rd and 24th picks to improve the roster will be key.
For the third consecutive season, the Minnesota Timberwolves have finished with a losing record. At least last year it created the opportunity to capture the No. 1 pick and add Anthony Edwards to their roster.
This year, the Wolves are in a position where they might not even get their draft pick. If the pick does not wind up being a top-three selection it will go to the Golden State Warriors as part of the trade that sent Andrew Wiggins to the Bay and brought back D'Angelo Russell.
When you make a deal like that, you're obviously hoping that pairing Russell with Karl-Anthony Towns will make that first-rounder a little less valuable. Instead, Russell and Towns have struggled to create a chemistry that wins ballgames, and the Wolves are losing out on the opportunity to add another blue-chip prospect to a roster that could use it.
Edwards' rookie season is reason for hope. He battled LaMelo Ball for rookie of the year honors averaging 19.3 points, 4.7 rebounds and 1.1 steals per game.
Yet, Minnesota finished with the sixth-worst record in the league. Assuming Edwards takes another step forward next year, that shouldn't be the case in 2021. If things go well for the franchise going forward, this should be its last year for a while with that kind of record.
Unfortunately, the odds are stacked against them to keep the pick. They have around a 27.6 percent chance to land a pick in the top three. If they can land one of those top three picks and add someone like Cunningham or Evan Mobley to the mix, they would have an even brighter future.
The Aaron Gordon trade was the end of an era in Orlando. Over the last seven seasons, the Magic have taken four players in the top 10. Gordon has been by far the most productive who has stayed with the team, posting a VORP of 8.0.
Mario Hezonja didn't last long in Orlando, Jonathan Isaac has been injured but underwhelming for his draft capital and the jury is still out on Mo Bamba's ceiling in the league.
The Magic finished the season with the third-worst record in the league. Swapping Nikola Vucevic for Wendell Carter Jr. gave them an interesting prospect to pair with Bamba in the frontcourt and the potential for another top-10 pick.
The Bulls pick will convey to Orlando as long as it stays out of the top four, while Orlando has as good a chance at the No. 1 pick as anyone.
Right now, the Magic have some young players with exciting potential, but there isn't a guy who sparks excitement as a possible superstar. If they win the lottery and get Cunningham, that would change. Pairing him with another top-10 pick from the Vucevic trade, they would have all the makings of a young core that would bring upside to the roster.