As our 2016/17 NBA Reverse Standings show, the Celtics – by way of the Nets – have all but clinched the No. 1 spot in the 2017 draft lottery. With a record of 12-53, Brooklyn has a 7.5-game “lead” over the second-place Lakers, who are 20-46. Barring a hot streak that sees the Nets practically double their win total, their last-place finish will ensure that the Celtics have a 25% chance of landing the first overall pick this spring.
However, once we move past the Nets, there are many interesting lottery situations that are far from decided, which could have significant ramifications for the future of several franchises. Here’s a closer look at a few of them:
Los Angeles Lakers
The Lakers are currently in second place in our reverse standings, with a 1.5-game lead on the Suns. If Los Angeles can hold that position the rest of the way, it would give the team a great chance to keep its 2017 first-round pick, which is top-three protected. If they lose the pick, it’ll be sent to the Sixers.
If the Lakers finish as the NBA’s second-worst team, they’d have a 55.8% chance of landing in the top three and keeping their pick. If they were to slip just one spot in the lottery standings and finish with the league’s third-worst record, those odds would shift below 50/50, to just 46.9%.
This year’s lottery outcome is particularly crucial for the Lakers, since losing this year’s pick would also mean they’d have to send their 2019 first-rounder (unprotected) to Orlando. If the Lakers keep this year’s first-rounder, their commitment to the Magic would become a pair of second-round picks in 2017 and 2018.
Philadelphia 76ers / Sacramento Kings
The Kings‘ 2017 first-round pick is top-10 protected — if it lands outside the top 10, Sacramento will have to send the pick to Chicago. However, a lengthy losing streak has put the Kings in a great position to keep that selection — they’re now 25-41, No. 6 in our reverse standings and four full games ahead of the 29-37 Hornets (No. 11).
With the Kings’ pick looking pretty safe, it’s now worth watching to see where it lands in relation to the Sixers‘ pick. Philadelphia has the opportunity to swap picks with the Kings, so Sacramento won’t necessarily be rooting for lottery luck unless both the Kings and Sixers can jump into the top three. Currently, the 24-42 Sixers are just one game ahead of Sacramento in our reverse standings.
If the Kings and Sixers finish as the league’s fifth- and sixth-worst teams, Philadelphia would have a 15.1% chance of landing the first-round pick, rather than just 8.8%.
New Orleans Pelicans
When the Pelicans acquired DeMarcus Cousins last month, most observers called the trade a coup for New Orleans. However, that early assessment of the deal hinged on the assumption that the Pelicans would improve with Cousins in the lineup, reducing the value of the first-round pick they sent to Sacramento in the swap. That hasn’t happened so far, as the 26-40 Pelicans place eighth in our reverse standings.
If the Pelicans were to finish as the NBA’s eighth-worst team, they’d have a 10% chance to jump into the top three and hang onto their pick. Otherwise, the Kings would be in position to acquire the pick and hold two top-10 selections.
No other lottery picks for 2017 appear to be in flux — the Mavericks traded their first-rounder to the Sixers, but it’s top-18 protected, and Dallas has essentially no chance of landing outside of the top 18.
Further down in our reverse standings, outside of the lottery, every traded first-round pick should change hands. Of those late-round selections, the most valuable traded pick looks to be the Grizzlies‘ selection, which they’ll send to the Trail Blazers. It currently projects to be No. 19 overall.
RealGM’s list of traded draft picks was used in the creation of this post.