NBA Draft Order 2022: Updated Lottery Odds Entering Postseason
The NBA draft lottery is less predictable than it has ever been thanks to recent efforts by the league to curb tanking.
While the teams with the worst records still have the best odds to secure the No. 1 overall pick, things have been changed to provide a larger group with a chance to snag the top selection.
As the NBA playoffs approach, a third of the league is already looking ahead to next season. So for the teams anxiously awaiting May 17's lottery drawing, here's a look at the end-of-season lottery odds, courtesy of Tankathon, along with a spotlight on what to watch in the drawing.
Updated Lottery Odds for Bottom 10 Teams
1. Houston Rockets (20-62; 14 percent chance to land No. 1 pick)
2. Orlando Magic (22-60; 14%)
3. Detroit Pistons (23-59; 14%)
4. Oklahoma City Thunder (24-58; 12.5%)
5. Indiana Pacers (25-57; 10.5%)
6. Portland Trail Blazers (27-55; 9%)
7. Sacramento Kings (30-52; 7.5%)
8. New Orleans Pelicans (from LAL) (33-49; 6%)
9. San Antonio Spurs (34-48; 4.5%)
10. Washington Wizards (35-47; 3%)
Top Pick Will Come Down to Best Fit
This year's draft class doesn't have a consensus top prospect but rather three players who could go No. 1 depending on which team lands the pick. Auburn's Jabari Smith, Duke's Paolo Banchero and Gonzaga's Chet Holmgren are all expected to be in consideration at the top of the draft, but it will all come down to best fit.
For example, the Orlando Magic are unlikely to take Holmgren given its young group of centers in Mo Bamba, Wendell Carter Jr. and Moritz Wagner. The Magic would see a massive improvement on the wing by adding Smith or Banchero, but so too would the Houston Rockets if they wanted to move on from veteran Eric Gordon.
Holmgren would be a natural fit as a defensive anchor for the Detroit Pistons, who already have solid wing players in Jerami Grant and Saddiq Bey. But Grant is the subject of trade speculation, with many expecting the Pistons to deal him away as he enters the final year of his contract. If that happens, Detroit would love to pair Smith or Banchero alongside 2021 No. 1 overall pick Cade Cunningham.
There's still time for Smith, Banchero and Holmgren to separate themselves from the pack in the pre-draft process. Smith has massive upside but shot 3-of-16 in Auburn's NCAA men's tournament loss. Banchero is a polished scorer but has a questionable defensive motor. Holmgren might have the highest ceiling, but he needs to develop his 7'0", 195-pound frame.
Will Any of These Picks Be Moved?
While lottery picks are paramount to shaping a team's future, those looking to add stars will surely be open to moving the picks for the right deals.
The Portland Trail Blazers tore down their roster after Damian Lillard's season-ending abdominal surgery. But Portland won't want to waste another year of Lillard's prime on a rebuild. Trading their lottery pick would allow the Blazers to bring in another high-level player to pair with Lillard in the hopes of leading the team back to the postseason.
Even the New Orleans Pelicans could look to move their pick after assembling a solid roster behind Brandon Ingram and CJ McCollum, who was acquired at this year's trade deadline. With the hopeful return of Zion Williamson next season, the Pelicans will have a strong core that should be able to compete with top teams in the West. Adding a veteran to that group might be more valuable than bringing i a youngster who might not see much playing time.
But for perennial lottery teams like the Oklahoma City Thunder and Sacramento Kings, their best course is to hold on to their picks and continue building through the draft. They will remain stuck in the lottery for the foreseeable future because they need more than one piece to get them over the hump.