What 2020 Lottery Odds Would Look Like If Season Doesn’t Resume

While the NBA hopes that resuming the 2019/20 season will be possible, there are scenarios in which the league could proceed directly to the postseason or has to cancel the rest of the ’19/20 campaign entirely. If such measures are necessary, it would mean that the NBA’s current standings will be its final standings.

It’s tricky to say exactly what that would mean for an event like the 2020 NBA draft, which hinges in large part on the previous season’s standings. After all, some teams have played as few as 64 games, while others have played as many as 67.

Teams like the Hawks (20-47) and Cavaliers (19-46) are an equal number of games back of the clubs ahead of them the standings, but Atlanta has the better winning percentage. Presumably, that would mean Cleveland moves ahead of the Hawks in the projected draft order and for lottery odds purposes. Based on winning percentage, the Cavs would also have better lottery positioning than the Timberwolves (19-45), despite having the same number of wins.

With that in mind, we’re looking today at what the lottery odds would be if the NBA’s regular season doesn’t resume and the league ranks its teams by winning percentage. It’s a hypothetical exercise, but one which could become increasingly relevant the longer the league’s hiatus extends.

For a full breakdown of how the NBA draft lottery works, be sure to check out our glossary entry on the subject. The standard odds chart for the new draft lottery format is included in our glossary entry, but the numbers in that chart don’t quite match up with 2020’s lottery, since the Kings and Pelicans currently have identical records. That tie would impact the odds for this year’s lottery.

With the help of our reverse standings and data from Tankathon.com – which is worth bookmarking for all sorts of draft-related info – we’ve listed the new, hypothetical odds for 2020 in the chart below.

The numbers in the chart indicate percentages, so the Warriors, for example, have a 14% chance of landing the No. 1 pick and a 47.9% chance of ending up at No. 5. If a team’s odds are listed as >0, that percentage is below 0.1%.

Here’s the full chart:

Team 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14
GSW 14 13.4 12.7 12 47.9
CLE 14 13.4 12.7 12 27.8 20
MIN 14 13.4 12.7 12 14.8 26 7.1
ATL 12.5 12.2 11.9 11.5 7.2 25.7 16.8 2.2
DET 10.5 10.5 10.6 10.5 2.2 19.6 26.7 8.8 0.6
NYK 9 9.2 9.4 9.6 8.6 29.6 20.6 3.8 0.2
CHI 7.5 7.8 8.1 8.5 19.7 34.1 12.9 1.3 >0
CHA 6 6.3 6.7 7.2 34.5 32.1 6.7 0.4 >0
WSH 4.5 4.8 5.2 5.7 50.7 25.9 3 0.1 >0
PHX 3 3.3 3.6 4 65.9 18.9 1.2 >0 >0
SAS 2 2.2 2.4 2.8 77.6 12.6 0.4 >0
SAC* 1.3 1.4 1.6 1.8 86.1 7.6 0.1
NOP* 1.2 1.3 1.5 1.7 92.0 2.3
POR 0.5 0.6 0.6 0.7 97.6

* The Kings and Pelicans have matching 28-36 records and would be subject to a random tiebreaker to determine which team gets the No. 12 slot and which gets No. 13. Their spots in this list (and their odds) could be flipped.

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17 thoughts on “What 2020 Lottery Odds Would Look Like If Season Doesn’t Resume

  1. Simmons>Russ

    Think the NBA in order to start the offseason off with a roar after the Coronavirus will make it a GSW Knicks 1 and 2 in the draft..
    GSW and the Knicks have two huge fan bases and it would get lots of people interested in basketball again.

  2. nentwigs

    Don’t even have to draw the lottery.
    The Eternally Snake-Bit Timber puppies ,
    Will “WIN” the 7th Pick !!

  3. braveshomer

    I don’t even begin to pretend to know how lottery odds work but here it goes lol…I thought the top 5 teams all got the same percentage of lottery balls this year?!..or something like that

  4. AtlPlayaPlaying

    Wondering about the logic for putting ATL behind MIN. ATL would be less games “back” from GSW for the #1 pick. Is it known how this will work or is this a guess?

    • Luke Adams

      As noted in the intro, I’m operating under the assumption that the NBA would base the order on winning percentage. I don’t know with 100% certainty that that would be the case.

    • hiflew

      In this scenario with you operating as the Warriors, exactly what type of dunce will be operating as the Bucks?

      Even if they get the #1 pick, there is no way that will be enough for Giannis. It took 2 overall #1 picks (Bennett, Wiggins) plus more to get Kevin Love and that was before either of them really disappointed.

  5. Spurs5

    All I want my spurs go higher draft than #11 but that’s nice start and even though this suppose be weak draft, the spurs scouting team best business as you can see from late draft 1st round picks and last time they had high draft lottery pick was kawai Leonard #13 so they definitely find gem of talent at #:11 or move up little odds

  6. Spurs5

    All I want my spurs go higher draft than #11 but that’s nice start and even though this suppose be weak draft, the spurs scouting team best business as you can see from late draft 1st round picks.

  7. UGA_Steve

    Makes one realize how flawed the lottery system is currently. It’s like the Spurs getting Duncan even though they were one of the best teams in the NBA the year before and after the pick, but the year of the pick they had lost Robinson and benefited from one down year for the next fifteen. The Warriors might end up being the Spurs of this era.

    Maybe they should go to a three year record window, and not allow any team to move up in the lottery more than once in a X number of years, nor draft in the top three two years in a row or something. They have got to minimize the ridiculousness of single season injuries and tanking.

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