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:
* 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.