If you have an unnatural feeling in the pit of your stomach that’s bordering on excitement and queasiness that can only mean one thing: the NBA Draft Lottery is upon us. On Tuesday night at 8 p.m., the league will announce the 2017 NBA Draft order on ESPN in an event that is typically considered the most dramatic 15 minutes of the NBA calendar year (at least for Sixers fans).
While there seems to be general turmoil each year, the Sixers are involved in a multitude of scenarios that could shatter some hearts and shake up the order.
(Note: all lottery odds are based directly off the numbers outlined on Basketball Reference.)
The Draft Lottery only determines the order for the top three teams only, and the rest of the teams select in the inverse order of their regular season records. Any team’s pick can land in the top three or in their designated pre-lottery spot, and can fall no more than three picks. Therefore, Philadelphia’s pick can land anywhere between one and seven.
The Sixers have the fourth best lottery odds, giving them a 12 percent shot at the first overall pick, and a 37.6 percent chance of receiving a top-three pick with their own selection.
Here’s a breakdown of where the Sixers own pick could fall outside of the top spot.
- Number two pick: 12.1 percent
- Number three pick: 13.6 percent
- Number four pick: 9.1 percent
- Number five pick: 35.9 percent
- Number six pick: 16 percent
- Number seven pick: 1.3 percent
Philadelphia also owns the option to swap picks with the Sacramento Kings, who hold the eighth best lottery odds. The Kings have a 2.6 percent chance at the top pick and a 9.8 percent chance at a top-three pick. Therefore, between their own pick and the pick swap option with Sacramento, the Sixers have a 14.5 percent chance at the first overall pick, and a 47.4 percent chance at a top-three selection.
Lastly, the Sixers own the Los Angeles Lakers pick if it falls out of the top three. The Lakers own the third best lottery odds, giving them only a 47.5 percent chance of retaining the selection. If Los Angeles does keep the pick, Philadelphia will receive an unprotected first-round pick from them in the 2018 NBA Draft.
The Complicated Stuff
In terms of where their picks could fall, there are 28 different possible outcomes based on the Sixers own selection, a potential pick swap, and the Lakers falling out of the top three. The more difficult ones are listed below, and the calculations come from LotteryBucket.com.
Picks one and four (2.4 percent chance): In this dream scenario, the Sixers are the only team that moves up the board here, leaping over Boston, Phoenix and Los Angeles. Because they were the only team outside the top three to move up, that would then bump Los Angeles to the fourth pick, giving Philadelphia their selection.
Picks one and four via pick swap (.38 percent chance): This scenario would be equally as dreamy but much funnier, considering it would certify that the Sixers-Kings trade from June 2015 as one of the worst of all time. Like the Sixers in the previous outcome, the Kings would be the only team to make a move up the draft board, and their selection falling at number one would drop the Lakers to number four. It’s remarkably unlikely that it happens, but there’s an iota of a chance. Believing never hurt anyone.
Picks one and five (5.7 percent chance): Philadelphia jumps up to number one, and another team outside the top three also makes a move onto the podium, dropping Los Angeles all the way down to five.
Picks one and five via pick swap (1.1 percent chance): The Kings make the jump to number one and another team outside the top three moves in, pushing the Lakers down to five. Philadelphia, then sitting with the sixth pick, would swap with Sacramento.
Picks one and six (1.3 percent chance): In another bizarre outcome, three new teams led by Philadelphia would jump into the top three, subsequently pushing the Lakers all the way down to sixth.
Picks one and six via pick swap (.34 percent chance): This one would be a real doozy, with Sacramento and two other teams jumping into the top three. Not gonna happen.
Picks two and four (2.8 percent chance): Philadelphia would leapfrog the Lakers to make this happen, adding insult to injury as they not only get a better selection than Los Angeles, but steal away their pick in the process. Tough luck, Magic.
Picks two and four via pick swap (.48 percent chance): The almighty pick swap comes back into play here, as the Kings would jump into the top three. Either Boston or Phoenix would come away with the top selection, but Sacramento’s move would be enough to remove Los Angeles from the top three. Philadelphia would land at the fifth spot before exchanging picks with Sacramento.
Picks two and five (5.8 percent chance): Philadelphia would be one of two teams outside the top three to make it past the commercial. It would allow Boston or Phoenix to land one of those coveted selections (only one could earn a top-three pick), but the Lakers would fall to fifth, giving them another scenario where they walk away without a lottery selection.
Picks two and five via pick swap (1.1 percent chance): This situation would be the exact same as the above one except you would replace Philadelphia with Sacramento. The Sixers would end up with the second pick, while Sacramento would get the sixth pick in the swap.
Picks two and six (1 percent chance): Philadelphia and two other unknown teams would leap into the top three, dropping Los Angeles all the way down to sixth. The Sixers come away with a silver medal in this case, but having that pick would be a nice consolation prize
Picks two and six via pick swap (.24 percent chance): Nope.
Picks three and four (3.4 percent chance): This scenario is a tad more viable than some of the previous ones. Philadelphia’s leapfrogging of Los Angeles would push them down to four, giving the Sixers back-to-back picks. If the Sixers end up with two picks, this is how I would expect them to do it, math be damned.
Picks three and four via pick swap (.65 percent chance): Fun! But not happening.
Picks three and five (5.3 percent chance): In this case, one team below the Sixers would jump into the top two, while they would round out the top three. Los Angeles falls to number five, and would promptly turn their pick over to Philadelphia.
Picks three and five via pick swap (1 percent chance): There’s only one more swap option after this, I swear.
Picks three and six (.82 percent chance): Philadelphia and two other teams leap into the top three. The Sixers would round out that group, and snag the Lakers’ pick which plummeted to number six.
Picks three and six via pick swap: (.15 percent chance): The last swap, and the least likely of them all. Good luck rolling this one on Tankathon.
Picks four and five (13.8 percent): One team below the top four would leapfrog both the Sixers and the Lakers while everyone else stays put. The Lakers pick would end up in the Sixers hands at four, while Philadelphia’s own pick would drop to five. Mathematically, this is the most likely way they’ll end up with their pick and the Lakers pick.
Picks five and six (9.5 percent): In this case, two teams below the top five would jump the Sixers and Lakers, resulting in both picks falling two spots. Both then become Sixers property.
Picks six and seven (.79 percent chance): In what would be a really conflicting scenario, the Sixers would get their pick and the Lakers pick, but both would fall as far as the lottery allows them to. Not the most optimal outcome.
Joel Embiid will be replacing head coach Brett Brown as the Sixers representative on the stage.
Lottery representatives for each team tomorrow night pic.twitter.com/boKd55ol6c— Ohm Youngmisuk (@NotoriousOHM) May 15, 2017
If the Los Angeles Lakers pick does indeed fall outside of the top three, then deputy commissioner Mark Tatum will display a card with the Sixers logo on it with “From Los Angeles Lakers” below.
In terms of the Kings pick, the Sixers will have to let the league office know they intend to swap the selection, as they did last year. If that has already been done and the pick swap is needed, then the Sixers logo will appear on the card with “From Sacramento Kings”.
The team with the best lottery odds has won it the past two years. Prior to the Minnesota Timberwolves winning back in 2015, the team with the top odds hadn’t received the first pick since the Orlando Magic in 2004. Basically, someone else is due to win.
The team with the fourth worst record hasn’t won since the San Antonio Spurs in 1987. That was just the third ever installment of the lottery system. The Spurs went on to select David Robinson that year.
For the pick swap hopefuls, the last time a team with the eighth best odds won the lottery was in 2011. The Los Angeles Clippers were forced to give up the top selection to the Cleveland Cavaliers in the Baron Davis trade, and the Cavaliers selected Kyrie Irving. We can call that an honorary pick swap.
A friendly reminder that the Draft Lottery will start by doing picks 4-14 in reverse order, then go to a commercial before announcing the final three picks. If the Sixers (or Kings) make it to the commercial, perhaps you can use that as a respite to calm your nerves. If they don’t, well, you can stop watching at that point.
See you all at the Lottery Party at XFINITY Live tomorrow. Doors open at 3 p.m.