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Suns Could Add Another Lottery Pick

The Suns could move some of their assets to gain another lottery pick, Scott Bordow of the Arizona Republic tweets.

Phoenix is expected to select Arizona center Deandre Ayton with the top pick. They also own the No. 16 pick, courtesy of the Goran Dragic deal with the Heat, as well as two second-rounders – Nos. 31 and 59. They are interested in forward Michael Porter Jr. and one of the top three college guards – Trae Young, Collin Sexton and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander – if they can make a deal, Bordow adds.

Porter Jr. could team up with Ayton and give the Suns a formidable frontcourt duo for the next few seasons. They are also in need of a point guard, with Elfrid Payton headed to restricted free agency if they extend a qualifying offer of $4.75MM by the June 29th deadline.

Kings Don’t Want Clippers’ Lottery Picks

The Kings are not interested in trading the No. 2 overall pick for the Clippers’ back-to-back selections at No. 12 and No. 13, Brad Turner of the Los Angeles Times tweets.

The Kings reportedly are willing to move down to acquire additional assets but apparently they’re not keen to drop out of the Top 10 for two late lottery selections. The Clippers, who didn’t make the playoffs, acquired an additional first-round selection in the deal that sent Blake Griffin to the Pistons.

Sacramento is reportedly willing to do business with the Spurs and include the pick in a trade for Kawhi Leonard, though that seems to be a longshot since Leonard can exercise an early termination option on his contract after next season.

What Turner’s tweet confirms is that the Clippers are actively seeking to package the picks and move into the Top 5. That reinforces a Yahoo Sports report earlier this month that also claimed they have their eyes on Euroleague guard Luka Doncic.

If the Kings hold onto their pick, it’s a near lock they’ll pick Duke big man Marvin Bagley III, according to the Dallas Morning News’ Eddie Sefko (Twitter link).

What should the Kings do with their pick? Voice your opinion in our latest Community Shootaround topic.

Michael Porter Jr. Cleared For Evaluation By Lottery Teams

After canceling a workout for lottery teams due to a hip injury, Michael Porter Jr. has been cleared for second pro day evaluation by lottery clubs in Chicago on Friday, tweets Shams Charania of Yahoo Sports. Teams traveling to Chicago understand the purpose of Porter’s showcase tomorrow is a medical/physical evaluation, Charania adds.

It has been an odd 24 hours for Porter, who is widely expected to be a top-10 – or even top-five – pick in next week’s draft. The Missouri product originally canceled Friday’s scheduled workout due to a strained hip and spasms that prevented him from getting out of bed. Porter underwent an MRI shortly thereafter which showed a “positive review.”

“After being shut down to do strengthening/core stabilization work for his first 4 weeks in Chicago, and then being ramped up as hard as he was the last 3 weeks, Michael developed some inflammation that wrapped around his nerve and caused massive spasms,” a statement from his camp read. A later statement noted that if he passed another evaluation today, tomorrow’s medical evaluation would carry on as scheduled.

The KingsGrizzlies and Mavericks appear to be the most interested teams in Porter with the Bulls lurking at No. 7 if he falls that far.

Wendell Carter Working Out For Six Lottery Teams

Duke center Wendell Carter Jr. has workouts on tap with six lottery teams in this year’s draft, he told reporters today. Carter, whose first workout of the pre-draft process took place today with the Bulls, also has auditions lined up with the Mavericks, Grizzlies, Magic, Knicks, and Cavaliers, per Nick Friedell of ESPN.com (Twitter link).

It’s not clear if Carter will ultimately add more workouts to his schedule after completing those six sessions, but the teams he named today present a pretty clear picture of when he can expect to be drafted. Each club on his list holds a top-10 selection, ranging from No. 4 (Memphis) to No. 9 (New York). Ian Begley of ESPN.com tweets that several people in the Knicks’ front office are “enamored” with Carter.

In his latest mock draft, ESPN’s Jonathan Givony has Carter coming off the board at No. 7 to the Bulls. For his part, the young center said today he has heard he could be drafted anywhere from No. 3 to No. 12, Friedell notes.

A freshman for the Blue Devils last season, Carter averaged an impressive 13.5 PPG, 9.1 RPG, 2.1 BPG, and 2.0 APG in just 26.9 minutes per contest. He also recorded a solid .561/.413/.738 shooting line in his first and only year at Duke.

2018 NBA Draft Lottery Primer

The 2018 NBA draft lottery will take place on Tuesday night in Chicago before Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Finals begins in Boston. Here’s what you need to know heading into tonight’s event:


Pre-Lottery Draft Order:

The top 14 picks in the 2018 NBA draft would look like this if tonight’s lottery results don’t change the order:

  1. Phoenix Suns
  2. Memphis Grizzlies
  3. Dallas Mavericks
  4. Atlanta Hawks
  5. Orlando Magic
  6. Chicago Bulls
  7. Sacramento Kings
  8. Cleveland Cavaliers (from Nets)
  9. New York Knicks
  10. Philadelphia 76ers (from Lakers)
    • Note: Celtics will receive pick if it lands at No. 2 or No. 3 via lottery
  11. Charlotte Hornets
  12. Los Angeles Clippers (from Pistons)
    • Note: Pistons will keep pick if it moves into top three via lottery.
  13. Los Angeles Clippers
  14. Denver Nuggets

For the full pre-lottery draft order, click here.


Draft Lottery Odds:

The Suns will have a 25.0% chance at the first overall pick and a 64.2% chance at a top-three pick. That puts them in the driver’s seat, as they won’t be picking any lower than fourth.

The Grizzlies (19.9% at No. 1; 55.8% at top-three), Mavericks (13.8% and 42.6%), and Hawks (13.7% and 42.3%) have the next-best odds at a top pick, with the odds for the remaining lottery teams declining from there.

For the full draft lottery odds for all 14 spots, click here.


Trades Affecting The Draft Lottery:

Three trades will have an impact on Tuesday night’s lottery results. They are as follows:

The Cavaliers own the Nets‘ unprotected first-round pick, so Cleveland will receive that selection no matter where it lands. It’s currently projected to be No. 8 overall.

The Sixers own the Lakers‘ unprotected first-round pick, but will send that pick to the Celtics if it moves up to No. 2 or No. 3 in the lottery. If it stays where it is (No. 10), moves up to No. 1, or moves down at all, the 76ers will keep it, which is the likely outcome (97.1% chance).

  • Note: If the Sixers keep this pick, the Celtics will receive a top-one protected pick from the Sixers in 2019 (the most favorable of the Kings and Sixers picks).

The Clippers own the Pistons‘ top-three protected first-round pick. If it moves up to the top three in the lottery, that selection will stick with Detroit. However, it’s currently projected to be No. 12, limiting the odds of it moving up. The Clips have a 97.5% chance of ending up with the pick.

  • Note: If the Pistons keep their pick, the Clippers will receive a top-four protected pick from the Pistons in 2019.

Draft Lottery Representatives:

The on-stage representatives for each of this year’s lottery teams are as follows, according to a press release issued by the NBA:

  • Atlanta Hawks: Jami Gertz (co-owner)
  • Boston Celtics: Rich Gotham (president)
  • Charlotte Hornets: Mitch Kupchak (president of basketball operations / GM)
  • Chicago Bulls: Michael Reinsdorf (president / COO)
  • Cleveland Cavaliers: Nick Gilbert (son of owner Dan Gilbert)
  • Dallas Mavericks: Michael Finley (assistant VP of basketball operations)
  • Denver Nuggets: Jamal Murray
  • Detroit Pistons: Luke Kennard
  • Los Angeles Clippers: Jerry West (consultant)
  • Memphis Grizzlies: Elliot Perry (minority owner / director of player support)
  • New York Knicks: Scott Perry (GM)
  • Orlando Magic: Jeff Weltman (president of basketball operations)
  • Philadelphia 76ers: Elton Brand (GM of Delaware Blue Coats)
  • Phoenix Suns: Josh Jackson
  • Sacramento Kings: De’Aaron Fox

Final Year For Current Lottery Format:

This will be the final year that the lottery uses the current odds, including a 25% chance at the No. 1 pick for the NBA’s worst team. Starting in 2019, the league’s three worst teams will have an equal shot (14.0%) at landing the first overall pick, and the top four spots in the draft will be decided in the lottery. That means the league’s worst team could slip as far as No. 5.

Additionally, the odds at a top pick will be smoothed out throughout the top 14. While the NBA’s very worst teams will still have the best chance to land the very best picks, the difference won’t be as significant as it has been. For instance, in the current format, the NBA’s eighth-worst team has a 10% chance at a top-three pick. In the new format, that club’s odds would increase to a 26% chance at a top-four pick.

For full details on the lottery changes for 2019, click here.

Community Shootaround: Draft Lottery Scenarios

The 2018 NBA draft lottery will take place on Tuesday night, as we noted in our lottery primer earlier today. While the odds favor the Suns, there are 14 NBA teams that could ultimately end up with the No. 1 overall pick in this year’s draft, creating some fascinating drama.

In a piece for The Ringer on Monday, Paolo Uggetti broke down some of the most interesting potential scenarios for the draft lottery. As Uggetti observes, the two teams still alive in the Eastern Conference Finals have a chance to get some great news before they take the court on Tuesday, since the Cavaliers own the Nets’ first-round pick, while the Celtics will own the Lakers’ first-rounder if it lands at No. 2 or No. 3 overall. The possibility of one or both of those teams landing a top-three pick at the same time they’re looking to advance to the NBA Finals isn’t good news for the rest of the league.

Of course, the Sixers would keep that Lakers pick if it moves all the way up to No. 1. It’s currently 10th in the lottery standings, so the odds of it becoming a top-three pick are slim, but it would create some terrific drama if it lands in the top three, since the balance of power in the Eastern Conference could shift significantly depending on whether the pick ends up at No. 1 (Sixers) or Nos. 2 or 3 (Celtics).

Uggetti’s other intriguing scenarios include big-market teams like the Knicks and Clippers getting a top pick — L.A. could theoretically move into the top three while keeping a second lottery selection, courtesy of the Pistons. Uggetti points to the Magic or Kings getting the No. 1 pick as interesting scenarios too, since neither of those clubs has had much lottery luck in the last few years — despite several appearances near the top of the draft.

Outside of the teams we’ve already mentioned, the Grizzlies, Mavericks, Hawks, Bulls, Hornets, Pistons, and Nuggets all have a chance to land a top pick.

What do you think? What would be the most interesting draft lottery scenario? Which team deserves some good luck the most (or least)? Jump into the comment section below to share your thoughts!

Cavs Willing To Trade Lottery Pick For Vets

The Cavaliers are seeking proven veterans from teams looking to move up in the draft despite not knowing LeBron Jamesplans for the future, Joe Vardon of the Cleveland Plain Dealer reports.

Cleveland has the No. 8 overall pick on Thursday, courtesy of the Kyrie Irving blockbuster deal with the Celtics last summer. The front office has sent signals that it intends to upgrade the team, even if James opts out of his contract or requests a trade, Vardon continues.

Cleveland has sent out feelers to the Spurs about their willingness to deal disgruntled forward Kawhi Leonard. Hornets point guard Kemba Walker is another potential target, according to Vardon. Adding another impact player would be a way of trying to entice James to stay put but, of course, there’s no guarantee that will convince him to do so.

The front office and James’ camp have been in contact over the phone and in person lately, though the team’s brass hasn’t met with James,, sources told Vardon. There have not been any serious discussions regarding his future because James remains uncertain what he’s going to do, Vardon adds.

Despite their willingness to deal, the Cavaliers could still hold onto the pick.

Adding another veteran or two, especially if Cleveland uses the $5.8MM trade exception it possesses, would present even more salary-cap issues. The Cavs will pay about $50MM in luxury-tax penalties on last season’s payroll, Vardon notes, and they’ll still be over the cap even if James bolts without them trading for more help. Yet the Cavs’ front office is still willing to take on more salary with the hope of improving their chances to retain James, Vardon adds.

2018 NBA Draft Lottery Odds

The NBA’s draft lottery is less than two weeks away, and the results of that event could significantly alter the course of multiple franchises. While we’ve already outlined what the draft order will look like heading into that night, we’ve yet to take a closer look at each club’s lottery odds, so we’ll do that today.

Let’s dive right in…

  1. Phoenix Suns
    • No. 1: 25.0%
    • No. 2: 21.5%
    • No. 3: 17.7%
    • No. 4: 35.8%
  2. Memphis Grizzlies
    • No. 1: 19.9%
    • No. 2: 18.8%
    • No. 3: 17.1%
    • No. 4: 31.9%
    • No. 5: 12.4%
  3. Dallas Mavericks
    • No. 1: 13.8%
    • No. 2: 14.2%
    • No. 3: 14.5%
    • No. 4: 23.8%
    • No. 5: 29.0%
    • No. 6: 4.5%
  4. Atlanta Hawks
    • No. 1: 13.7%
    • No. 2: 14.1%
    • No. 3: 14.5%
    • No. 4: 8.5%
    • No. 5: 32.3%
    • No. 6: 15.5%
    • No. 7: 1.3%
  5. Orlando Magic
    • No. 1: 8.8%
    • No. 2: 9.6%
    • No. 3: 10.6%
    • No. 5: 26.2%
    • No. 6: 35.9%
    • No. 7: 8.4%
    • No. 8: 0.4%
  6. Chicago Bulls
    • No. 1: 5.3%
    • No. 2: 6.0%
    • No. 3: 7.0%
    • No. 6: 44.0%
    • No. 7: 33.1%
    • No. 8: 4.5%
    • No. 9: 0.1%
  7. Sacramento Kings
    • No. 1: 5.3%
    • No. 2: 6.0%
    • No. 3: 7.0%
    • No. 7: 57.3%
    • No. 8: 22.6%
    • No. 9: 1.8%
    • No. 10: <0.1%
  8. Cleveland Cavaliers (from Nets)
    • No. 1: 2.8%
    • No. 2: 3.3%
    • No. 3: 3.9%
    • No. 8: 72.5%
    • No. 9: 16.8%
    • No. 10: 0.8%
    • No. 11: <0.1%
  9. New York Knicks
    • No. 1: 1.7%
    • No. 2: 2.0%
    • No. 3: 2.4%
    • No. 9: 81.3%
    • No. 10: 12.2%
    • No. 11: 0.4%
    • No. 12: <0.1%
  10. Philadelphia 76ers (from Lakers)
    • No. 1: 1.1%
    • No. 2: 1.3% (to Celtics)
    • No. 3: 1.6% (to Celtics)
    • No. 10: 87.0%
    • No. 11: 8.9%
    • No. 12: 0.2%
    • No. 13: <0.1%
  11. Charlotte Hornets
    • No. 1: 0.8%
    • No. 2: 0.9%
    • No. 3: 1.2%
    • No. 11: 90.8%
    • No. 12: 6.3%
    • No. 13: <0.1%
    • No. 14: <0.1%
  12. Los Angeles Clippers (from Pistons)
    • No. 1: 0.7% (to Pistons)
    • No. 2: 0.8% (to Pistons)
    • No. 3: 1.0% (to Pistons)
    • No. 12: 93.5%
    • No. 13: 3.9%
    • No. 14: <0.1%
  13. Los Angeles Clippers
    • No. 1: 0.6%
    • No. 2: 0.7%
    • No. 3: 0.9%
    • No. 13: 96.0%
    • No. 14: 1.8%
  14. Denver Nuggets
    • No. 1: 0.5%
    • No. 2: 0.6%
    • No. 3: 0.7%
    • No. 14: 98.2%

Note: Because odds are rounded to nearest tenth, they may not always add up to exactly 100.0%.

Information from LotteryBucket.com was used in the creation of this post.

Full 2018 NBA Draft Lottery Results

With Tuesday night’s lottery results now official, the top 14 picks in the 2018 NBA draft have been set. The lottery order is as follows:

  1. Phoenix Suns
  2. Sacramento Kings
  3. Atlanta Hawks
  4. Memphis Grizzlies
  5. Dallas Mavericks
  6. Orlando Magic
  7. Chicago Bulls
  8. Cleveland Cavaliers (from Nets)
  9. New York Knicks
  10. Philadelphia 76ers (from Lakers)
  11. Charlotte Hornets
  12. Los Angeles Clippers (from Pistons)
  13. Los Angeles Clippers
  14. Denver Nuggets

The Suns entered the night with the best odds (25.0%) at landing the No. 1 overall pick, and came away with that selection. The Kings, seventh in the lottery standings, only had an 18.3% chance at a top-three selection, but moved all the way up to No. 2. The Hawks, who had a 42.3% chance at a top-three pick, moved up from No. 4 to No. 3.

The Grizzlies, Mavericks, Magic, and Bulls had no lottery luck — Memphis and Dallas fell two spots each, while Orlando and Chicago each slipped one spot. Picks eight through 14 held to form.

With the Lakers’ first-rounder headed to Philadelphia, the Sixers will now owe the Celtics a first-round pick in 2019. That selection will be the more favorable of the Kings and Sixers first-rounders, unless one of those picks lands at No. 1. In that scenario, Boston would receive the less favorable pick.

The Pistons will send their first-round pick to the Clippers since it didn’t land in the top four, so Detroit’s obligation to L.A. has now been fulfilled — Detroit will have its own first-rounder in 2019 and beyond.

As we detailed earlier today, this is the last year these specific lottery odds will be in effect. Beginning in 2019, the NBA will smooth out those odds, reducing the chances of the worst teams landing the top picks, and putting the top four selections up for grabs instead of just the top three.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images. Luke Adams contributed to this post.

Mavericks Notes: Lottery, Cuban, Free Agency, Porter

Michael Finley joked that he was tempted to demand a recount when the Mavericks landed the fifth pick at Tuesday’s lottery, relays Dwain Price of Mavs.com. Dallas’ VP of basketball operations decided to remain professional at the event and is optimistic the team can land an impact player. The Mavs came into the lottery with the third best chance to win the top choice and a guarantee to fall no lower than sixth.

“It’s a deep draft with some great young talent, so at the fifth pick I think we’ll still be able to get a player that can come in and help us immediately,” Finley said. “It’s a wide variety of sizes and talent in the draft when you look at some of the point guards, some of the wing guys and the big guys.

“Like I said, it’ll give us a great opportunity to get one of those players, and hopefully that player can help us so we won’t be at this lottery next year.”

There’s more tonight from Dallas:

  • The ping pong balls didn’t bounce the Mavericks’ way, but there’s no guarantee the team will hold onto the No. 5 pick, owner Mark Cuban tells Dalton Trigg of 247Sports.com“We are never content,” Cuban said. “We will be open to any and all options.”
  • The Mavericks should be careful not to try to make up for the lottery disappointment by becoming overly aggressive in free agency, writes Eddie Sefko of The Dallas Morning News. He advises the team to build slowly and not do something risky like offering a max deal to DeMarcus Cousins, who continues to recover from a ruptured Achilles tendon.
  • Dallas will take a long look at Missouri’s Michael Porter Jr. with the fifth pick, Sefko states in a separate piece. Porter missed almost the entire college season with back problems, but his physical gifts still make him a promising NBA prospect. Magic executive Pat Williams, whose team owns the sixth pick, said DeAndre Ayton, Luka Doncic, Marvin Bagley III and Jaren Jackson Jr. are expected to be the first four taken, with Porter, Mo Bamba, Wendell Carter and maybe Trae Young going right afterward.

Phoenix Suns Win No. 1 Pick In Draft Lottery

Having entered draft lottery night with the best odds of landing the No. 1 pick, the Suns won the first overall pick, making good on those 25.0% odds. The Kings grabbed the No. 2 overall selection, with the Hawks coming in at No. 3.

The Suns are looking for a franchise player they can pair with Devin Booker, and the top two contenders for the No. 1 pick appear to be Arizona’s Deandre Ayton and Real Madrid’s Luka Doncic.

Ayton is the favorite to go No. 1, but the center isn’t a lock to be the top pick, according to Jonathan Givony of ESPN (Twitter link). The Suns have been scouting Doncic all season and they like what they see.

New Phoenix head coach Igor Kokoskov previously coached Doncic on the Slovenian national team and he knows the 19-year-old wing very well.

“We call him wunderkind,” Kokoskov said (via Scott Bordow of the Arizona Republic). “He’s an upcoming, rising star. Luka is a very talented player. His ability to pass, that’s the hardest part of the game, the most difficult part to teach. To be a good passer you have to understand the game. It’s basketball IQ. He’s really unique and special at that age to understand the game well and to be a team player. He’s not necessarily playing point guard but he’s a playmaker who makes everybody else better on the court.”

Ayton is a “lock” to go to the Kings if he’s there at No. 2, per Givony (Twitter link). The scribe adds that GM Vlade Divac “won’t have any issue” recommending Doncic as the pick if the Suns pick Ayton.

The Hawks moved up one spot in the lottery and they are thrilled to be in the top three. “If somebody wants to make us a great (trade) offer, we will listen. Right now we are happy to pick (third) and we know we are going to get a good player,” GM Travis Schlenk said tonight, as Michael Cunningham of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution relays (on Twitter).

Atlanta figures to get one of the Doncic, Ayton, and Marvin Bagley trio and Givony tweets that the team will gladly settle for whichever player is left out of that group. Givony adds that the Hawks would have had strong interest in Trae Young had they landed outside the top three.

[RELATED: Full 2018 NBA Draft Order]

In addition to the No. 1 selection, the Suns also own the No. 16 overall pick (via the Goran Dragic deal), plus the Nos. 31 and 59 selections in the second round. The Kings’ only other pick is their own second-rounder (No. 37).

The Hawks have a pair of extra first-rounders — one from the Wolves (No. 19 via the Adreian Payne trade) and one originally from the Rockets (No. 30, via a three-way trade with the Clippers). They also own their second-round pick (No. 34).

Luke Adams contributed to this post.

Heat Notes: Dragic, Haslem, Spoelstra, Lottery

Goran Dragic has retired from international basketball, but he might be persuaded to change his mind for the 2020 Olympics, writes Barry Jackson of The Miami Herald. After helping Slovenia capture the European championship last summer, Dragic plans a much more relaxed offseason this year.

“The people from the federation have been here in Miami; they tried to persuade me,” Dragic said. ‘We had a good meeting. I said my body at that time, I need to think about myself and my career. I gave to my country everything I had. Now it’s time to end.”

Dragic, who turned 32 last week, is hoping a few months of rest will pay off next season. He played 75 games this year, but his numbers declined across the board in scoring, assists and field goal percentage.

There’s more today out of Miami:

  • Udonis Haslem appeared in just 14 games this season, but Dragic says the intangibles he provides makes him worth a roster spot, Jackson adds in the same story. “It’s really tough to explain to people outside what he means to this team,” Dragic said. “Everybody is looking, ‘OK, he’s not playing’ but they don’t know how much he brings to this team, especially with his experience and leadership. A lot of guys in this locker room need leadership like UD, especially Hassan [Whiteside]. I think UD can provide that. He’s there where usually some guys would not be, in the toughest moments, when you need something, he’s there. That’s why everybody loves him.” Haslem, who will turn 38 in June, is headed into free agency and hasn’t decided if he wants to play another season.
  • Don’t expect a coaching change in Miami as long as Pat Riley remains the team president, writes Ira Winderman of The Sun-Sentinel. Erik Spoelstra is closely tied to Riley’s philosophy, Winderman notes, and the current roster probably wouldn’t fit together without him in charge.
  • The Heat won’t be involved in Tuesday’s lottery, but the results could affect them for years to come, Winderman points out in a separate piece. The lottery will help determine the balance of power at the top of the East, with the Cavaliers owning the Nets’ unprotected first-rounder and the Lakers’ first pick headed to either the Sixers or Celtics. Those teams could add to their talent base or they could use a high lottery pick as a bargaining chip if the Spurs decide to trade Kawhi Leonard.

2018 Pre-Lottery NBA Draft Order

The NBA conducted its draft tiebreakers on Friday evening, further cementing the draft order for 2018. While we’ll have to wait until the lottery to determine the exact order for this year’s event, we now know what most of the 60 selections look like.

Listed below is the pre-lottery 2018 NBA draft order. Each lottery team’s chances of landing the No. 1 overall pick are noted in parentheses. We’ve also included notes for picks whose status remains up in the air — for instance, the Lakers‘ first-round pick could still technically end up with either the Sixers or Celtics.

We’ll update this list after the May 15 lottery once the official order is set, but here’s the tentative 2018 NBA draft order:

First Round:

  1. Phoenix Suns (25.0%)
  2. Memphis Grizzlies (19.9%)
  3. Dallas Mavericks (13.8%)
  4. Atlanta Hawks (13.7%)
  5. Orlando Magic (8.8%)
  6. Chicago Bulls (5.3%)
  7. Sacramento Kings (5.3%)
  8. Cleveland Cavaliers (from Nets) (2.8%)
  9. New York Knicks (1.7%)
  10. Philadelphia 76ers (from Lakers) (1.1%)
    • Note: Celtics will receive pick if it lands at No. 2 or No. 3 via lottery (2.9% chance).
  11. Charlotte Hornets (0.8%)
  12. Los Angeles Clippers (from Pistons) (0.7%)
    • Note: Pistons will keep pick if it moves into top three via lottery (2.5% chance).
  13. Los Angeles Clippers (0.6%)
  14. Denver Nuggets (0.5%)
  15. Washington Wizards
  16. Phoenix Suns (from Heat)
  17. Milwaukee Bucks
  18. San Antonio Spurs
  19. Atlanta Hawks (from Timberwolves)
  20. Minnesota Timberwolves (from Thunder)
  21. Utah Jazz
  22. Chicago Bulls (from Pelicans)
  23. Indiana Pacers
  24. Portland Trail Blazers
  25. Los Angeles Lakers (from Cavaliers)
  26. Philadelphia 76ers
  27. Boston Celtics
  28. Golden State Warriors
  29. Brooklyn Nets (from Raptors)
  30. Atlanta Hawks (from Rockets)

Second Round:

  1. Phoenix Suns
  2. Memphis Grizzlies
  3. Atlanta Hawks
  4. Dallas Mavericks
    • Note: Mavericks would swap places with Hawks if Atlanta gets higher first-round pick than Dallas via lottery.
  5. Orlando Magic
  6. Sacramento Kings
  7. New York Knicks (from Bulls)
    • Note: Knicks would swap places with Kings if Sacramento gets higher first-round pick than Chicago via lottery.
  8. Philadelphia 76ers (from Nets)
  9. Philadelphia 76ers (from Knicks)
  10. Brooklyn Nets (from Lakers)
  11. Orlando Magic (from Hornets)
  12. Detroit Pistons
  13. Denver Nuggets (from Clippers)
  14. Washington Wizards
  15. Brooklyn Nets (from Bucks)
  16. Houston Rockets (from Heat)
  17. Los Angeles Lakers (from Nuggets)
  18. Minnesota Timberwolves
  19. San Antonio Spurs
  20. Indiana Pacers
  21. New Orleans Pelicans
  22. Utah Jazz
  23. Oklahoma City Thunder
  24. Dallas Mavericks (from Trail Blazers)
  25. Charlotte Hornets (from Cavaliers)
  26. Philadelphia 76ers
  27. Oklahoma City Thunder (from Celtics)
  28. Denver Nuggets (from Warriors)
  29. Phoenix Suns (from Raptors)
  30. Philadelphia 76ers (from Rockets)

Suns Secure Top Spot In Lottery Standings

Following the Grizzlies’ win over Detroit and the Suns‘ loss to Golden State on Sunday, Phoenix has locked up the NBA’s worst record for the 2017/18 season. As our Reverse Standings show, the Suns’ 2.5-game lead for that top lottery spot ensures that they’ll head into next month’s draft lottery with a 25% chance of landing the No. 1 overall pick. They’ll also be guaranteed a top-four pick in the 2018 draft.

The Suns will be hoping for better luck this year than they had last spring — after finishing with the NBA’s second-worst record in 2016/17, Phoenix slipped out of the top three of last year’s lottery, ultimately landing Josh Jackson with the fourth overall pick. This time around, the Suns will have a 64.3% chance of securing a top-three selection.

Although the Grizzlies are no longer in the running for the No. 1 spot in the lottery, they look like a good bet to wind up at No. 2 in the lottery standings — they have a 22-58 record, putting them 1.5 games ahead of the 24-57 Hawks and Mavericks with three days left in the season.

Unlike in the NBA’s playoff race, where ties are broken based on each team’s performance in certain regular-season matchups, lottery ties are broken via coin flips. If Atlanta and Dallas ultimately finish tied for third in the lottery standings, they’d receive nearly equal odds of landing the No. 1 pick. Rather than 15.6% for third place and 11.9% for fourth, one team would have a 13.8% chance for the No. 1 pick and one team would have a 13.7% chance. In that scenario, the winner of a coin flip would receive the slightly higher lottery odds, and would get the higher draft pick if neither team ends up in the top three.

2018 represents the last year that the NBA will use its current draft lottery format. Starting in 2019, the lottery odds will be smoothed out, reducing the “top” teams’ chances of landing the highest picks. If the Suns had finished No. 1 in the lottery standings under that new format, they’d only have a 14% chance at the No. 1 pick – plus a 40% chance at a top-three selection – and could have fallen as low as No. 5.

Community Shootaround: Draft Lottery, Tanking

NBA scouts expect the 2018 draft class to feature about five to seven elite prospects, and ’18 will also be the last year that the NBA’s current lottery format will be in effect. As a result, we could be subjected to one of the most widespread late-season tanking efforts in league history, multiple league executives tell Tim MacMahon and Brian Windhorst of ESPN.

While most of the teams vying for lottery positioning at the bottom of the NBA standings won’t publicly acknowledge they’d prefer to lose, prioritizing the development of young players is one obvious way to tank in a politically correct manner. Resting veterans and being extra-cautious with minor injuries are other passive tanking strategies.

According to MacMahon and Windhorst, executives around the NBA also believe some teams are engaging in a more “active” form of tanking, which involves “reverse analytics.” Rather than relying on data to determine optimal lineups for winning games, teams may be doing just the opposite, providing coaches with lineups that would perform poorly in certain matchups.

In any form, tanking is a bad look for the NBA, and the fact that so many teams have begun doing so in earnest this early in the 2017/18 season is worrisome.

It’s possible that the minor tweaks the league made to the lottery system will help matters — starting in 2019, the top four spots in the draft will be up for grabs in the lottery, rather than just the top three, and the very worst teams will have a reduced chance of landing one of those top picks.

For instance, under the current format, the worst club in the NBA has a 25% chance to land the No. 1 pick and a 64% chance to get a top-three pick. That team also won’t fall further than No. 4. In the new system, that same team would have a 14% chance at No. 1, a 40% chance at a top-three pick, and could fall all the way to No. 5.

The new system may discourage tanking to some extent, but Moke Hamilton of Basketball Insiders believes that modest lottery reform of that nature isn’t enough — the league needs to overhaul the lottery system entirely, Hamilton argues.

What do you think? What can the NBA do to discourage the widespread tanking efforts we’re seeing in 2017/18? Will the new format solve the problem, or is it merely a band-aid solution for an issue that requires a more significant overhaul?

Jump into the comment section below to share your thoughts!

Community Shootaround: Lottery Reform

The NBA Competition Committee is considering a change to the current lottery system, as we passed along on Thursday, and the proposed terms of the new system include:

  • Teams would be able to drop four spots in the lottery. Currently teams can drop no more than three spots.
  • The three worst teams would have equal probabilities of landing the first pick.
  • The odds for those three worst teams would be flattened, closing the gap between their odds of landing the top pick and the subsequent teams’ odds of landing the top pick.

The reform would help to discourage tanking, something that commissioner Adam Silver would like to accomplish. The committee may vote on the proposal prior to the upcoming season and if it gains support, there could be a new system in place as soon as the 2018 draft, though it’s more likely that any changes are phased in over time.

That leads us to tonight’s topic: Should the NBA make these changes to the lottery or does the current system work for the league? Are there other alternatives to the latest proposal that would be better for the NBA?

Let us know your thoughts in the comment section below. We look forward to what you have to say!

And-Ones: Seattle, Wilkins, Trash Talk, Lottery

Last week, we touched upon how the NBA is planning to hold a preseason game in Seattle next season, the first NBA game at KeyArena since the Sonics left after the 2007/08 season. Now, according to a report from ESPN’s Emily Kaplan, the ownership group that applied to bring the NHL to Seattle is leaving the door open for bringing an NBA franchise back to the city as well.

The Oak View Group, comprised of investment banker David Bonderman, longtime sports executive Tim Leiweke, and Hollywood producer Jerry Bruckheimer, is hoping to found the NHL’s 32nd team, and the NHL is reportedly likely to accept the bid. The OVG plans to begin remodeling KeyArena this October with the hope to begin play during the 2020/21 season.

As for the potential for an NBA franchise, Leiweke says, “The way we are going to structure all of our contractually obligated income is making sure there will be revenue upside built in should the NBA ever consider Seattle. We are committed to making sure the building, all of our contracts, all of our partnerships and all of our relationships, are done in a way that we can maximize value.”

Here are more odds and ends from around the basketball world:

  • Having been waived by the Pacers earlier this season, Damien Wilkins has been a man on a mission in the G League, averaging 29.2 PPG, 6.0 RPG, and 5.0 APG for the Greensboro Swarm this month. As Scott Agness of VigilantSports.com details, the 38-year-old Wilkins badly wants to finish the season on an NBA roster.
  • In an entertaining piece for ESPN.com, Tim MacMahon and Law Murray break down some of the unwritten rules of NBA trash talking.
  • Speaking of entertaining pieces, Andrew Sharp of SI.com lays out his idea for a end-of-season tournament featuring non-playoff teams that would replace the draft lottery and determine the order of the top 14 picks.
  • With a win over Puerto Rico this week, Team USA clinched a spot in the second round of the qualifiers for the 2019 World Cup, per an AP report (link via USA Today). The next round of qualifying games begins in September.

Clark Crum contributed to this post.

Projected 2019 Lottery Pick Darius Bazley To Sign In G League

Projected 2019 lottery pick Darius Bazley has decommitted from Syracuse and will instead sign a G League contract when he’s eligible to do so next September, Shams Charania of Yahoo Sports writes. The decision is unprecedented for a player of Bazley’s stature coming out of high school.

Since individuals are eligible to sign G League contracts one year sooner than they’re eligible to declare for the NBA Draft, the soon-to-be 18-year-old will be free to do so in September, months after finishing high school in Cincinnati, Ohio.

Those familiar with the 2019 NBA Draft landscape may already know that Bazley has established himself as an intriguing 6’9″ playmaker. The wing’s ball handling and ability to contribute defensively will make him a tantalizing prospect as he navigates the uncharted territory.

While highly regarded high school prospects have skipped the NCAA to play overseas prior to entering the NBA Draft previously, this is the first time a player as celebrated as Bazley, a 2018 McDonald’s All-American, will forego college for a year in the G League where player salaries are capped around $30K. In contrast, Emmanuel Mudiay signed a one-year deal in China worth $1.2MM following his final year of high school in 2014.

I’m aware that this might start a trend and that’s one of the reasons why I am doing this,” Bazley told Yahoo Sports. “I’m outspoken and I like to speak on things. This is me speaking through my actions, speaking through my character. This is going to happen down the road and become more common. But someone has to start the fire — and I believe I’m going to do that, and it’s very important to me.

NBA Contemplates Draft Lottery Reform

3:43pm: An update to Wojnarowski’s original article details the currently proposed legislation and we have the highlights here:

  • Teams would be able to drop four spots in the lottery. Currently teams can drop no more than three spots.
  • The three worst teams would have equal probabilities of landing the first pick.
  • The odds for those three worst teams would be flattened, closing the gap between their odds of landing the top pick and the subsequent teams’ odds of landing the top pick.

Another idea that the Competition Committee came up with is to prohibit teams from picking in the top three in consecutive years.

2:37pm: The NBA’s Competition Committee could potentially vote on draft lottery reform prior to the 2017/18 season, Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN writes.

Commissioner Adam Silver is a strong advocate of discouraging tanking and could do so by lowering the odds that basement-dwelling teams have of snagging the top picks.

While legislation for reform could be voted on and put in place prior to the season, that doesn’t mean that any changes would necessarily affect next year’s draft. More realistically, Wojnarowski writes, modifications to the lottery process would be phased in over time.

The NBA’s Competition Committee is expected to vote on the idea of sending a formal recommendation to the league’s Board of Governors next week. If the vote goes through, the committee will be able to decide whether to pass the league office’s recommendations on to the next stage of the process or modify them and send them along.

Ultimately it will be team owners with the final say when they, if necessary, hold their own vote on whether or not to implement the recommendations at the Board of Governors meeting in September.

Currently the draft process gives the team with the fewest wins a 25% chance of landing the first pick and a 64.3% chance of staying in the top three.

The team with the second fewest wins has a 55.8% chance of staying in the top three while the third-worst team in the league has a 46.9% chance of staying there.

At the opposite end of the spectrum, the five best lottery teams have only a 1.8% to 4% chance of landing in the top three.

Modifications to the weighting system could tip the scales in favor of teams who finished with better records, lessening the temptations of blatant futility.

And-Ones: Lottery Ideas, White, BIG3

While the NBA recently voted to approve changes to the league’s draft lottery rules, Mavs owner Mark Cuban had a pair of other ideas to dissuade teams from tanking. Neither gained traction but the details that Cuban shared with ESPN’s Tim MacMahon are admittedly intriguing.

One of Cuban’s proposals would see the NBA draft eliminated outright with teams, instead, getting an allotted budget from the league to sign draft eligible players as free agents. The teams with the worse records would have the biggest budgets but wouldn’t necessarily be a lock to land the top talent if they don’t position themselves as an appealing destination.

The team with the worst record gets the most money and the team with the best record gets the least money,” Cuban said. “It’s like a free agency. It makes it a lot harder to tank because you don’t know if you get the best players if you’re horrible all the time. Nobody liked that at all, not a single person.

Cuban pitched the idea to the league’s board of governors but the concept didn’t have much of an impact.

The other idea that Cuban had was to lock the team with the worst record into a single draft position, potentially third or fourth. Doing so, Cuban argues, would give teams incentive to compete down the stretch to ensure that they didn’t finish the regular season with the worst record. By avoiding finishing 30th of all 30 teams, a team would effectively keep their chances of snagging the top pick in the draft alive.

Tuck the two Cuban ideas up on a shelf beside The Wheel for future speculation, however, considering that the league moved quickly and enthusiastically to adopts its relatively modest rejigging of the traditional draft lottery format.

There’s more news from around the league:

  • The NBA didn’t set a record for international players on opening day rosters but it came close. A total of 108 international players from 42 countries suited up for Game 1, Michael Yuan of ESPN writes, that’s down from 113 international players from 41 countries in 2016/17.
  • The G League returning rights to Heat forward Okaro White were acquired by the Long Island Nets in a trade with the Memphis Hustle, a press release on the Nets’ affiliate’s site reports.
  • The BIG3 will expand its rosters ahead of its second season of operation, the league announced. This year teams will have one additional slot for a co-captain… which could come in handy.
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