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Lottery Notes: Player Movement, The Wheel, Value

The recently announced lottery changes will have an impact on tanking but it may be a minor one, Zach Lowe of ESPN writes. To fully rid the league of intentional losing, far more aggressive steps would need to be taken.

Essentially, Lowe writes, increasing the freedom of movement that players have could be fair but doing so could come in several drastic forms from cutting the length of rookie contracts to trashing the max salary. Those, of course, could come with their own set of negative consequences and may not necessarily be worth it.

The current reform, said to be an incremental step, will dissuade terrible teams from shamelessly losing games late in the season but it may hurt small market teams if it impedes them drafting stars. Without access to drafting those stars, the smaller market franchises would have an even tougher time trying to lure free agents.

There’s more regarding the lottery reform:

  • The NBA’s new lottery rules don’t do enough to deter tanking, Berry Tramel of The Oklahoman writes. The scribe suggests that teams will still lose games on purposes, regardless of the new flattened odds, because getting a pick “anywhere near the top” is sufficient. He advocates for The Wheel as an alternative.
  • The new lottery changes will do nothing to stop tanking, a Cleveland.com report suggests. Teams will still compete to be one of the three-worst clubs since they now have an equal shot at landing the top pick.
  • Using a combination of probabilities and the estimated value each pick in 2019 lottery might have in addition to their salary, Kevin Pelton of ESPN makes a case for small market teams actually benefiting from the lottery reform. Pelton says that an under-discussed component of picking high in the draft is the salary that rookies are owed under the new CBA.

NBA Approves Lottery Reform, Change Effective 2019

The NBA’s Board of Governors passed a motion to reform the draft lottery today, Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN writes. The new rules will be in place for the 2019 NBA Draft.

Modifications to the lottery process were originally proposed earlier this month and include a number of strategies aimed at flattening the odds that basement dwelling teams have of landing the top pick. The idea behind the motion is to curb tanking.

Under the new rules, teams will be able to drop four places in the lottery. Previously teams could drop no more than three places, meaning that the worst team in the league would be guaranteed to pick in the top four. Now, in that same scenario, the team could fall as far as No. 5.

Beyond that, however, the odds of each team’s ping pong balls being selected have flattened dramatically, as portrayed in a tweet from Adrian Wojnarowski. Not only do the three worst teams have a lesser chance of winning the lottery, but there’s no longer any difference between finishing last, second-last or third-last when it comes to odds for the No. 1 pick.

In contrast, the team with the fourth-greatest shot at winning the lottery (ie; the fourth-worst team in the NBA) now has a better chance of landing the top pick, as does every team that finished ahead of it in the regular season with the exception of the best team in the lottery (which has the same odds as it had previously).

To demonstrate the point, consider the change in fortune that will await whatever team finishes ninth-last in the 2018/19 season. Whereas last season’s Mavs finished ninth-last and received a 2.8% chance of winning the lottery and a 10% chance of landing a top-three pick, under the new rules that team would have a 6% chance of winning the lottery and a 15% chance of landing a top-three pick.

All told, much of the incentive that middle-of-the-pack lottery clubs had of embracing a full-out tank and dropping to the bottom of the league has been reduced. Now the worst team in the league will have a 40% chance of landing a top-three pick as opposed to the 64% chance it previously had. That same team will now have a 14% chance of landing the No. 1 overall pick (vs. the 25% chance it had previously).

For a pick-by-pick breakdown of the probability changes, refer to the chart in the Wojnarowski tweet.

Another proposal formally approved by the league is one that extends commissioner Adam Silver’s authority to potentially fine teams for resting players in nationally televised games or in other select scenarios.

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: Lottery, 2018 Draft, Doncic, Hood

The NBA’s Board of Governors will vote next week on whether or not to institute draft lottery reform starting in 2019, and ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski has followed up on the proposal with a few more details. As Wojnarowski explains in his piece, the league’s efforts to rework the draft lottery system are a response to fan feedback on tanking — many fans have indicated that frequent tanking makes them less interested in the NBA.

Previous reports indicated that the top three lottery seeds will only have a 14% chance each at the No. 1 pick. According to Wojnarowski, the odds for the bottom lottery seeds (the teams that just miss the playoffs) will still be very long, so the NBA isn’t worried about teams tanking out of a playoff spot in the hopes of landing a top lottery pick.

Notably, teams in the seven to nine range in the lottery standings would benefit from the NBA’s reform proposal, with their chances of landing a top-three pick increasing by 8-9% apiece.

Here are a few more odds and ends from around the NBA:

  • With the 2018 NBA draft still nine months away, Jonathan Givony of ESPN (Insider link) has published a new mock draft, featuring Luka Doncic shooting up the No. 1 spot after a terrific EuroBasket performance. Michael Porter, Marvin Bagley, DeAndre Ayton, and Mohamed Bamba round out the top five behind Doncic, who was recently profiled by ESPN’s Mike Schmitz.
  • ESPN’s Zach Lowe identifies six players who he’ll be keeping an eye on this season, while Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer singles out three players who may be in line for breakout years. One player who shows up on both lists? Jazz swingman Rodney Hood.
  • In an interesting piece for ESPN, Darren Rovell and Bobby Marks break down how much the league’s top earners will actually take home in 2017/18 after taxes, agent fees, and other deductions.
  • Lang Greene of Basketball Insiders examines how many teams currently at or above the luxury tax line will be genuine contenders in 2017/18.

Daryl Morey Talks Lottery Reform, Tanking, Rockets

The NBA’s Board of Governors is prepared to vote for draft lottery reform later this month, and one person strongly in favor of the adjustment is Rockets president of basketball operations Daryl Morey. Appearing on Howard Beck’s Full 48 podcast at Bleacher Report, Morey argued in favor of the proposal, which he described as just a “minor fix,” but a “positive directional step.”

Morey also briefly addressed the Rockets’ offseason, but the brunt of the conversation involves the draft lottery and the issue of tanking, with Beck frequently playing devil’s advocate to Morey. The podcast is worth checking out in full, but here are a few highlights from the head of the basketball operations department in Houston:

On tanking as an NBA-wide problem:

“Teams have to go through cycles … What you want to have though is that when a team is in its rebuilding cycle, which every team goes through – we went through it after Yao Ming and Tracy McGrady – you don’t want them to sit around the table and be dreaming of ways [to get worse]. … ‘It’s not good enough to only win 25 games, to actually get the best odds, we have to win 15 games.’

“It’s just bad for the league that a team in a rebuilding cycle has to think about ‘Maybe I won’t sign a free agent because, oh my goodness, that might win us a few extra games.’ … When you’re down in that rebuilding trough, you shouldn’t have to dream up more ways to be even s–ttier so that you can get the odds at a top player.”

On whether the lottery reform proposal may give borderline playoff teams more incentive to miss the postseason due to better odds at the No. 1 pick:

“I think they’ll all choose the playoffs. We have teams in the NBA who haven’t made the playoffs in, like, 15 years right now. So making the playoffs is going to look really good to most of them.

“I actually think the problem of going from bad to extremely bad, and the fact that teams will have to take themselves out of free agency – which created a whole bunch of problems with the players’ union – I think that’s a much bigger issue than if you might see a team go ‘Hey, we’re going to win 40 games, maybe we’ll win 39 games [instead, to miss the playoffs.]’ You’re saying, ‘I’m going to give up $10MM+ in revenue from the playoffs and the down-stream [impact on] ratings and season tickets.'”

On the Rockets’ addition of Chris Paul:

“It’s very hard to improve a mid-50s-win team. There’s not many levers to pull there. The ones you can pull are generally you’ve got to get a top player, because if it’s not adding a top player, you’re usually bringing in a good player with some flaws and you’re replacing a good player with some flaws. So obviously adding Chris Paul was not a difficult decision.”

On the Rockets’ ability to contend for a title heading into 2017/18:

“I’d say we feel much better. We went from feeling not so good – which I think 29 teams in the league should feel like considering the Warriors obviously are the class of the league – to feeling spunky. We’re feeling like if we can pull this together, get our habits right on offense and defense, execute, that we can give one of the best teams of all time a very, very good series.

Central Notes: Moreland, Bulls, Draft Lottery, Cavaliers

Pistons power forward Eric Moreland got a significant increase in his salary guarantee by remaining on the roster through Friday. The 25-year-old, who signed with Detroit this summer, saw his guarantee for the upcoming season rise from $500K to $750K. Moreland inked a three-year contract, but it’s filled with guarantee dates that require him to remain with the team. The next one is opening night, October 18, when Moreland’s salary will increase to $1MM.

Undrafted out of Oregon State in 2014, Moreland began his career with the Kings, but played just 11 NBA games in two seasons. He was waived by the Cavaliers in training camp a year ago and spent the entire season with the team’s G League affiliate in Canton, earning a spot in the All-Star Game and third team all-league honors. The Pistons used a portion of their mid-level exception to sign Moreland.

For a complete look at upcoming guarantee dates around the NBA, see our breakdown.

There’s more from the Central Division:

  •  The Bulls should get at least one shot at a top draft pick before lottery reform is implemented, writes Mark Schanowski of CSNChicago. Chicago launched a rebuilding project by trading Jimmy Butler this summer and seems headed toward one of the league’s worst records. Even if owners approve the latest proposal to reform the lottery, the changes won’t take effect until 2019, meaning next summer’s draft will be conducted under the current system. If the Bulls finish with the worst record in the league this season, they will have a 25% shot at the top pick in June. Schanowski notes that the team will have $40MM to $50MM in cap space next summer, which could speed up the rebuilding process if combined with an elite draft choice.
  • The Cavaliers may have improved after a summer of chaos, according to Shaun Powell of NBA.com. Powell gives the team high marks for the return it got from Boston in exchange for Kyrie Irving, even though new point guard Isaiah Thomas will take a while to get back on the court. He speculates that the package of players, and especially Brooklyn’s unprotected first-rounder for 2018, could motivate LeBron James to remain in Cleveland beyond the upcoming season.

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.

NBA’s Board Of Governors To Vote On Lottery Reform

9:33am: The NBA has been “aggressively” lobbying team owners on the merits of the lottery reform proposal in recent days, according to Chris Mannix of The Vertical (Twitter links). Mannix adds that there’s “cautious optimism” on the proposal being approved, but it’s not a lock.

Meanwhile, following up on his previous tweet (noted below) about the other issue on the table, Wojnarowski says the Competition Committee’s proposal on DNP-Rest would give commissioner Adam Silver the latitude to fine teams for resting healthy players in nationally televised games, or for resting multiple healthy players in a single game.

8:50am: The NBA’s Competition Committee has formally recommended the league’s proposal on draft lottery reform, and a vote on the issue will take place at the NBA’s Board of Governors meeting later this month, according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.

As we’ve detailed in previous stories, the highlights of the NBA’s proposal are as follows:

  • The new system would take effect for the 2019 NBA draft.
  • Rather than having odds of 25%, 19.9%, and 15.6%, respectively, for the No. 1 overall pick, the top three lottery picks would each have a 14% chance.
  • The odds for the remaining lottery teams would increase by 1-2% apiece, and would decline smoothly.
  • The top four spots in the draft would be determined by the lottery, meaning a team could fall up to four spots instead of three. For instance, the No. 1 lottery seed could end up with the No. 5 pick.

According to Wojnarowski, the vote on the NBA’s lottery reform proposal is scheduled to take place on September 28, when the league’s team owners meet. A three-quarters majority is required, so at least 23 out of 30 team owners will need to approve the proposal for it to officially take effect.

The Board of Governors is also set to vote on the Competition Committee’s recommendation for rules that will curb DNP-Rest games during the regular season, per Wojnarowski. The NBA has altered its schedule to reduce back-to-backs and eliminate stretches of four games in five days, but as we heard last month, new rules regarding resting players are expected to be implemented as well.

Latest On NBA’s Draft Lottery Reform Proposal

After ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski first reported last week that the NBA was mulling the idea of draft lottery reform, we rounded up the highlights of the proposal. Among those highlights: Teams would be able to drop as many as four spots in the lottery (ie. from first to fifth), and the odds for the top three teams to land the No. 1 pick would be reduced and flattened, giving each of those clubs equal odds.

In a piece for USA Today, Jeff Zillgitt picks up where Wojnarowski left off, filling in a few more details on those main elements of the NBA’s proposal:

  • The three highest lottery seeds would each have a 14% chance of landing the first overall pick. Previously those teams had odds of 25%, 19.9%, and 15.6% respectively.
  • The odds for the remaining lottery teams to land the No. 1 pick would decrease smoothly, with each team’s odds increasing by an extra 1-2% over the old system.
  • We could deduce this from Wojnarowski’s report, but Zillgitt confirms that the number of picks determined by the lottery would increase from three to four, which would allow – for example – the No. 1 lottery seed to end up with the No. 5 overall pick.
  • The new system would be implemented for the 2019 NBA draft, giving teams time to plan and prepare accordingly.

While NBA team owners may vote on the proposal at the league’s Board of Governors meeting later this month, it’s not considered a slam dunk. Back in 2014, NBA owners voted on a similar plan, and while 17 owners voted in favor of that proposal, a three-quarters majority is required to pass it.

As Zillgitt details, some small- and mid-market teams believe this proposal would hurt their chances of landing a franchise-altering star through the draft — those clubs already feel that their odds of landing that sort of player in free agency are slim. However, the NBA is hopeful that this solution would eliminate the notion that a franchise has to be the worst of the worst in order to truly rebuild and improve.

Sixers Notes: Embiid, Doncic, Lottery Reform, Brown

Fans shouldn’t put much stock in a report that Joel Embiid won’t play five-on-five until he gets a maximum contract extension and might hold out if that doesn’t happen, according to Derek Bodner and Mike O’Connor of The Athletic. The Philadelphia-based writers address that rumor and other Sixers topic in a podcast, saying it would be unprecedented for someone with so little NBA experience to hold out for a max deal.

The Sixers have until October 16, the day before the regular season opens, to negotiate an extension with Embiid, who would become a restricted free agent next summer if a deal can’t be reached. Bodner speculates that Embiid’s representatives may relax their demands as the deadline gets closer, settling for a lower dollar amount or a provision to tie guaranteed money to the number of games Embiid can play. Bodner adds that a holdout seems unlikely because Embiid has shown so much dedication to the franchise.

There’s more news out of Philadelphia:

  • Bodner and O’Connor also discussed Luka Doncic, an 18-year-old Slovenian who is currently starring in the EuroBasket tournament and may be a top three pick in next year’s draft. O’Connor sees him as the best fit for the Sixers based on his elite passing and outside shooting. The Sixers are expected to be a playoff contender this year, but will receive the Lakers’ pick if it falls at No. 1 or between sixth and 30th.
  • The Sixers and former GM Sam Hinkie shouldn’t get all the blame for the league’s proposal to reform the draft lottery, writes Kevin Pelton of ESPN. He notes that tanking has been an issue for years in the NBA, which tried similar reforms in 2014 but couldn’t get enough votes from owners to approve them. Even so, Pelton notes that a successful season from Philadelphia could reinforce the perception that tanking is an effective strategy.
  • Sixers coach Brett Brown will conduct his annual Coach the Coaches Clinic on Tuesday, writes Kevin Callahan of nba.com. This is the third year for the event, which is open to coaches from grade school up to college. More than 200 coaches attended last year and more are expected this year.

2017 NBA Draft Lottery Results

The Celtics will pick first overall in the 2017 NBA draft, having won Tuesday night’s lottery one night after they advanced to the Eastern Conference Finals. The C’s, who exercised their rights to swap with the Nets, entered the lottery with the best odds (25.0%) to land that No. 1 overall pick.

The Lakers were the other big winners in the lottery, moving up to No. 2, ensuring that they’ll keep both this year’s pick and 2019’s first-rounder. Had Los Angeles’ pick fallen outside of the top three, it would have been sent to the Sixers, and the Lakers would’ve owed their unprotected 2019 first-rounder to Orlando. Instead, the Lakers will keep this year’s pick and 2019’s, and will send Philadelphia their unprotected 2018 first-round selection.

The Kings also moved up into the top three, but the Sixers will acquire that pick, exercising their right to swap with Sacramento. The Kings will pick at No. 5, which is where Philadelphia would have selected. Sacramento will also land the Pelicans’ selection at No. 10. That New Orleans selection was acquired by the Kings in February’s DeMarcus Cousins trade and was top-three protected.

The Suns are the night’s biggest losers, having moved from No. 2 in the lottery standings down to No. 4 overall. The Magic, Timberwolves, and Knicks each moved down one spot as well.

Here’s the full lottery order for the 2017 NBA draft:

  1. Boston Celtics (via Nets)
  2. Los Angeles Lakers
  3. Philadelphia 76ers (swapped with Kings)
  4. Phoenix Suns
  5. Sacramento Kings (swapped with Sixers)
  6. Orlando Magic
  7. Minnesota Timberwolves
  8. New York Knicks
  9. Dallas Mavericks
  10. Sacramento Kings (via Pelicans)
  11. Charlotte Hornets
  12. Detroit Pistons
  13. Denver Nuggets
  14. Miami Heat

Tonight’s lottery results are fascinating on a number of levels, but particularly so for two of the NBA’s most-storied franchises, the Celtics and Lakers. Boston is in position to either pick a player like point guard Markelle Fultz, considered by draft experts to be a future star, or to dangle that No. 1 overall pick in a trade for an established veteran star next month. The Celtics are coming off a season in which they earned the top seed in the East, and they also own the Nets’ unprotected first-round pick in 2018, so the franchise is extremely well-positioned for the future.

As for the Lakers, they’ll breathe a sigh of relief after hanging onto their 2017 first-rounder, and they’re in position to create a union that has been the subject of much speculation in recent weeks. UCLA point guard Lonzo Ball is widely viewed as the second-best prospect in this year’s draft, and he and his father LaVar have made no secret of the fact that Lonzo wants to play for the Lakers. Tonight’s lottery results make that a very real possibility.

The Kings are another winner tonight, having moved up from No. 8 to No. 5 and having also held onto the Pelicans’ pick at No. 10. Sacramento will be in a great position to pick two cornerstone pieces to kickstart the club’s rebuilding process.

Draft Lottery Notes: Sixers, Suns, Ntilikina, Nuggets

The Sixers are still actively seeking another first-round pick in Thursday’s draft despite acquiring the top overall pick from the Celtics on Monday, Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Inquirer reports. Philadelphia will take Washington point guard Markelle Fultz at the top of the draft but still have four second-rounders in this draft to dangle, as well as numerous other future picks. The Sixers could trade a player on their current roster in a package with some of those second-rounders or future picks to get another player in the first round, Pompey adds. “I think whether we were selecting at No. 1 or staying at 3, there’s been some talk about our interest in acquiring yet another pick,” President of Basketball Operations Bryan Colangelo told Pompey and other media members. “I’m not going to give up those efforts because we moved up to No. 1.”

In other notable developments involving this year’s lottery:

  • Suns GM Ryan McDonough doesn’t anticipate moving the No. 4 pick in the draft, as he told Scott Bordow of the Arizona Republic and other reporters on Monday. The Suns have been rumored to part of three-way deals involving Paul George and Jimmy Butler, and they are also reportedly enamored with UCLA point guard Lonzo Ball, who is expected to be drafted No. 2 overall by the Lakers. However, McDonough says he’s comfortable with staying put and taking whatever player falls to that spot. “We have a good grouping of players regardless of who goes one, two or three we really like,” McDonough told Bordow. “I think at this point there’s one player we feel won’t be there for sure at No. 4 (Fultz) and we’re prepared for every other scenario.”
  • The Mavs have hired the coach of potential lottery pick Frank Ntilikina, Vincent Collet, to run their Orlando Summer League team, ESPN’s Chad Ford tweets. Collet is Ntilikina’s coach for SIG Strasbourg in France. The coaching hire means that Dallas, which has the No. 9 pick in the draft, is “all in” on Ntilikina, Ford adds. Ntilikina wants to go to Dallas but the Knicks, who have the No. 8 pick, are also interested in the point guard, Ford reports in a separate tweet. Despite the Mavs’ efforts, the Knicks have shown the most interest in the French point guard, according to the New York Daily News’ Stefan Bondy, having sent scout Makhtar Ndiaye to watch him extensively.
  • Danilo Gallinari‘s foray into free agency will have little to no impact on the Nuggets’ lottery selection, according to Nick Kosmider of the Denver Post: President of Basketball Operations Tim Connelly told Kosmider and other reporters that the club isn’t targeting a specific need with the No. 13 overall pick. “Whoever we draft, whether it be No. 13 or we move up or we move down, it would be hard for them to have a significant role next season,” Connelly said.

Playoff, Lottery Implications For Wednesday’s Games

Wednesday is the last day of the 2016/17 regular season, and for many teams, there’s not a whole lot to play for tonight. A number of playoff seeds are already locked in, while other teams have been out of contention for weeks. The Hawks, Nets, Wizards, Bucks, and Cavaliers are among the teams expected to rest players tonight, and that’s just in the Eastern Conference.

Still, nearly every single game on tonight’s slate will have some sort of impact on playoff or draft lottery seeding, and a couple playoff spots in the East remain up for grabs. As such, it’s worth running through each game on the slate and identifying the importance of each contest.

Our notes below relate to playoff seeding, draft lottery positioning, and traded draft picks that may be affected by tonight’s results. If a team’s draft pick might improve from No. 22 to No. 21 with a loss tonight, that’s not something we’d mention here. But if a team can improve its draft lottery odds with a loss, or if a traded pick will be impacted by a result, we’ve made a note of that.

For a full breakdown of draft positioning, be sure to check out our 2016/17 NBA reverse standings (note: our reverse standings don’t currently account for playoff tiebreakers, so they have the Heat in playoff position rather than the Bulls — those teams should be flipped).

Here’s what to watch for in tonight’s games:

Milwaukee Bucks (42-39) at Boston Celtics (52-29)

  • Playoff implications: Celtics clinch No. 1 seed in East with win (or Cavaliers loss).
  • Draft lottery/traded pick implications: None

Brooklyn Nets (20-61) at Chicago Bulls (40-41)

  • Playoff implications: Bulls clinch No. 7 seed in East with win and Pacers loss. Bulls clinch No. 8 seed with win and Pacers win (or loss and Heat loss). Bulls eliminated with loss and Heat win.
  • Draft lottery/traded pick implications: Bulls enter draft lottery with loss and Heat win.

Toronto Raptors (50-31) at Cleveland Cavaliers (51-30)

  • Playoff implications: Cavaliers clinch No. 1 seed in East with win and Celtics loss.
  • Draft lottery/traded pick implications: Raptors will send their own 2017 first-round pick to Magic with win and Clippers loss. Raptors will send Clippers’ 2017 first-round pick to Magic with loss and Clippers win. If Raptors and Clippers both win (or lose), coin flip will determine which pick Magic receive.

Minnesota Timberwolves (31-50) at Houston Rockets (54-27)

  • Playoff implications: None
  • Draft lottery/traded pick implications: Timberwolves‘ lottery odds will increase with loss and Knicks win. Timberwolves’ lottery odds will decrease with win and Mavericks or Kings loss.

Atlanta Hawks (43-38) at Indiana Pacers (41-40)

  • Playoff implications: Pacers clinch No. 7 seed in East with win (or with Bulls and Heat losses). Pacers clinch No. 8 seed with loss and either Bulls or Heat win. Pacers eliminated with loss and Bulls and Heat wins.
  • Draft lottery/traded pick implications: Pacers enter draft lottery with loss and Bulls and Heat wins. If Pacers miss playoffs, their 2017 second-round pick (protected 45-60) will be sent to Nets.

Washington Wizards (49-32) at Miami Heat (40-41)

  • Playoff implications: Heat clinch No. 7 seed with win and Pacers and Bulls losses. Heat clinch No. 8 seed with win and Bulls win and Pacers loss (or with win and Pacers win and Bulls loss). Heat eliminated with loss (or with Pacers and Bulls wins).
  • Draft lottery/traded pick implications: Heat enter draft lottery with loss or with Pacers and Bulls wins.

Philadelphia 76ers (28-53) at New York Knicks (30-51)

  • Playoff implications: None
  • Draft lottery/traded pick implications: Sixers‘ lottery odds will increase with loss and Magic win. Sixers’ lottery odds will decrease with win and Magic loss. Knicks‘ lottery odds will decrease with win and Timberwolves loss.

Detroit Pistons (37-44) at Orlando Magic (28-53)

  • Playoff implications: None
  • Draft lottery/traded pick implications: Magic‘s lottery odds will increase with loss and Sixers win. Magic‘s lottery odds will decrease with win and Sixers loss.

Denver Nuggets (39-42) at Oklahoma City Thunder (47-34)

  • Playoff implications: None
  • Draft lottery/traded pick implications: Nuggets‘ lottery odds will decrease with win and Bulls or Heat loss.

Dallas Mavericks (32-49) at Memphis Grizzlies (43-38)

  • Playoff implications: None
  • Draft lottery/traded pick implications: Mavericks‘ lottery odds will increase with loss and Timberwolves or Kings win. Mavericks‘ odds will decrease with win and Kings or Pelicans losses.

San Antonio Spurs (61-20) at Utah Jazz (50-31)

  • Playoff implications: Jazz clinch No. 4 seed in West with win and Clippers loss.
  • Draft lottery/traded pick implications: None

Los Angeles Lakers (26-55) at Golden State Warriors (66-15)

  • Playoff implications: None
  • Draft lottery/traded pick implications: None

Sacramento Kings (32-49) at Los Angeles Clippers (50-31)

  • Playoff implications: Clippers clinch No. 4 seed in West with win (or Jazz loss).
  • Draft lottery/traded pick implications: Kings‘ lottery odds will increase with loss and Timberwolves or Mavericks wins. Kings‘ lottery odds will decrease with win and Mavericks or Pelicans losses. If Kings‘ lottery odds decrease, so too would their odds of keeping their top-10-protected 2017 first-round pick.

New Orleans Pelicans (33-48) at Portland Trail Blazers (41-40)

  • Playoff implications: None
  • Draft lottery/traded pick implications: Pelicans‘ lottery odds will increase with loss and Kings or Mavericks wins. If Pelicans‘ lottery odds increase, so too would their odds of keeping their top-three protected 2017 first-round pick.

Mavericks Notes: Ferrell, Carlisle, Lottery

Yogi Ferrell is confident that he can be the Mavericks‘ starting point guard, though he’s willing to play whatever role is best for the team, Eddie Sefko of the Dallas Morning News writes.

“I feel like, yeah, I am a starting point guard, and I’m going to play whatever role coach decides to put me in,” Ferrell said. “I’m definitely just blessed to be here and glad to be here. I definitely want to be here for a very long time.”

Here’s more from Dallas:

  • Coach Rick Carlisle believes Ferrell has earned a place in the league, but he added that it’s unfair to project what kind of role the Indiana product will play going forward, Sefko adds in the same piece. “I do like Yogi in our franchise, on our roster,” Carlisle said. “He certainly has proven that he can be a rotation player in this league. We didn’t have a good record. At this point in time, projecting exactly where he’s going to be is not really fair. I love him as a competitor. He’s grown each and every day, each and every game. I’m just really thrilled we have him here.”
  • Tim Cowlishaw of the Dallas Morning News can envision the Mavericks contending for the eighth seed next season, but he’s bearish on the team’s chances of rising any higher in the standings. The scribe adds that if unless Dallas moves up in the lottery, the team is a season or two away from 50 wins. Mark Cuban’s franchise has a 1.7% at the No. 1 overall selection and a 6.1% chance at a top-3 pick, as Luke Adams of Hoops Rumors details.

2017 NBA Draft Lottery Odds

With the NBA’s 2016/17 regular season now in the books, the odds for this year’s draft lottery have been set. With the help of our Reverse Standings, as well as information from LotteryBucket.com, here is the 2017 lottery order, along with each team’s chances of landing a top pick:

  1. Boston Celtics (via Brooklyn Nets)
    • No. 1: 25.0%
    • Top-3: 64.3%
    • Lowest pick: No. 4
    • Note: Celtics acquire pick due to ability to swap first-round picks with Nets.
  2. Phoenix Suns
    • No. 1: 19.9%
    • Top-3: 55.8%
    • Lowest pick: No. 5
  3. Los Angeles Lakers
    • No. 1: 15.6%
    • Top-3: 46.9%
    • Lowest pick: No. 6
    • Note: Pick will be sent to Sixers if not in top 3 (odds: 53.1%).
  4. Philadelphia 76ers
    • No. 1: 14.7%
    • Top-3: 45.3%
    • Lowest pick: No. 7
    • Note: Sixers have right to swap picks with Kings, so their No. 1 and top-3 odds are a little higher than they otherwise would be. No. 1 and top-3 odds for Sixers’ own pick are 11.9% and 37.8%, respectively.
  5. Orlando Magic
    • No. 1: 8.8%
    • Top-3: 29.12%
    • Lowest pick: No. 8
  6. Minnesota Timberwolves
    • No. 1: 5.3%
    • Top-3: 18.3%
    • Lowest pick: No. 9
    • Note: Timberwolves won tiebreaker with Knicks.
  7. New York Knicks
    • No. 1: 5.3%
    • Top-3: 18.2%
    • Lowest pick: No. 10
    • Note: Knicks lost tiebreaker with Timberwolves.
  8. Sacramento Kings
    • No. 1: N/A
    • Top-3: 2.5%
    • Lowest pick: No. 11
    • Note: Sixers have right to swap picks with Kings, rendering No. 1 pick impossible and greatly reducing odds of top-3 pick.
    • Note: Pick will be sent to Bulls if not in top 10 (odds: 0.01%).
  9. Dallas Mavericks
    • No. 1: 1.7%
    • Top-3: 6.1%
    • Lowest pick: No. 12
  10. New Orleans Pelicans
    • No. 1: 1.1%
    • Top-3: 4.0%
    • Lowest pick: No. 13
    • Note: Pick will be sent to Kings if not in top 3 (odds: 96.0%).
  11. Charlotte Hornets
    • No. 1: 0.8%
    • Top-3: 2.9%
    • Lowest pick: No. 14
  12. Detroit Pistons
    • No. 1: 0.7%
    • Top-3: 2.5%
    • Lowest pick: No. 14
  13. Denver Nuggets
    • No. 1: 0.6%
    • Top-3: 2.2%
    • Lowest pick: No. 14
  14. Miami Heat
    • No. 1: 0.5%
    • Top-3: 1.8%
    • Lowest pick: No. 14

Pistons Open To Moving Lottery Pick For Veteran

The Pistons currently have the No. 12 overall pick in this year’s draft, but there’s no guarantee this year’s 12th overall pick will play in Detroit in the fall. According to ESPN’s Marc Stein (via Twitter), the Pistons are open to discussing trades involving their lottery pick in the hopes of acquiring a “win-now veteran.”

As we saw a year ago when the Hornets moved the No. 22 overall pick for Marco Belinelli, a team without cap room could agree to a pick-for-player trade in June and then complete the deal in July, after they’ve opened up the necessary space. That could be one option for the capped-out Pistons.

However, even without taking into account Aron Baynes‘ player option or a lucrative potential new contract for Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, the Pistons already have about $95MM in guaranteed money on their books for 2017/18, so it’s unlikely that they’ll end up with any cap room even after the new league year begins.

That means that any deal involving the No. 12 pick and an established veteran would likely need to include at least one outgoing contract for salary-matching purposes. As such, it’s no surprise that Rod Beard of The Detroit News tweets the Pistons would likely be open to a “pick-plus-player option” to land that win-now veteran.

Stein’s report doesn’t specify any players – or even positions – the Pistons may be targeting as they discuss their lottery pick, but there are a few areas that could make sense. A frontcourt replacement for Baynes would be one possibility if the club expects to lose him in free agency. A guard would also be a logical target if Detroit has any concern about Reggie Jackson‘s ability to bounce back, or isn’t 100% sure that Caldwell-Pope will be retained.

Community Shootaround: Lottery Picks in Tourney

Right now, most basketball fans are agonizing over their bracket selections for the NCAA Tournament. With no clearcut favorite during March Madness this year, there are a lot of difficult decisions ahead before those brackets are finalized.

Every tournament has some breakout performers who garner national attention — and perhaps improve their NBA draft stock. Most of the projected lottery picks for the June draft will be in action this weekend, trying to lead their teams to the Sweet Sixteen and beyond.

Virtually all of those players are freshmen falling into the one-and-done category. The one who has received the most publicity is UCLA point guard Lonzo Ball. The precocious floor leader tops the nation in assists and is expected to be one of the top two picks in the draft along with Washington’s Markelle Fultz.

Using DraftExpress.com’s current rankings, there are three other freshmen in the top five on serious title contenders. Kansas small forward Josh Jackson was suspended for a game in the Big 12 tournament but it won’t affect his status for the NCAAs. He’s averaging 16.4 points, 7.2 rebounds and 3.1 assists for that perennial powerhouse. Duke small forward Jayson Tatum posted slightly higher point and rebounding totals than Jackson, while Kentucky point guard De’Aaron Fox engineers the Wildcats’ high-octane attack.

Fox’s team, swingman Malik Monk, can score in bunches as his 20.4 point average attests. Arizona power forward Lauri Markkanen has drawn comparisons to Dirk Nowitzki, while small forward Jonathan Isaac quickly emerged as one of the top players for No. 3 seed Florida State.

Still another freshman, Michigan State small forward Miles Bridges, carried the load for a team riddled with injuries to its veteran players. North Carolina’s leading scorer Justin Jackson breaks the mold by being a junior and he could move up a few spots if the Tar Heels make a deep run.

Of course, it’s not necessary to have a lottery-bound player to win the national championship, as Villanova showed last season. But we’re not asking for your bracket picks here, we’re looking for your opinion on these projected lottery picks.

This brings us to our question of the day: Which of the current projected lottery picks will make the biggest splash in the NCAA Tournament and why will they stand out?

Please take to the comments section to voice your opinion. We look forward to what you have to say.

Knicks Notes: Draft, Lottery, Jackson, Oakley

With the NBA draft lottery a mere hours away, the Knicks organization will soon learn where it will draft next month. The Knicks stands a 5.3% chance of grabbing the first overall selection and, at worst, will pick 10th overall. The team has trained its focus on wings and guards, according to Adam Zagoria of ZagsBlog.com.

The Knicks delegation made up of Phil Jackson, GM Steve Mills, assistant GM Allan Houston, and head coach Jeff Hornacek interviewed Markelle Fultz, De’Aaron Fox, Justin Jackson, and Frank Jackson, at the combine, per Zagoria. Fox beamed about his desire to play for the Knicks in another piece Zagoria wrote for FanRagSports.com.

“I don’t know too much about the triangle,” Fox said. “Everyone says it’s hard to learn but if I go in there I’ll have to learn quickly. And Porzingis, he’s amazing, watching the NBA this year. I really paid attention to the NBA this year knowing I’m about to go into this business; I had to stop watching it as a casual fan and start thinking of it as a business aspect. He’s great and if I get to play with him, I feel like we can do something special.”

Here’s more on the Knicks:

  • Phil Jackson is furious about the coverage he and the team are getting by the New York media, but it is Jackson who must take accountability for his failures for the Knicks culture to improve, writes Frank Isola of the New York Daily News. In particular, Jackson should question the effect of his treatment of star players on the team, argues Isola. Jackson claims that NBA commissioner Adam Silver agreed that media coverage has become problematic when the pair recently met, but Isola is skeptical.
  • Jackson has tempered his expectations for the lottery and the draft, according to Marc Berman of the New York Post. Jackson knows that there are no guarantees and is approaching the draft in a holistic manner: “We don’t expect a whole lot. Even our franchise, the New York Knicks, deigned to draft guys back in the ’90s, went with all veterans, gave up a lot of their picks. There’s that feeling too. As this talent pool is narrowed, it really is important to have both draftable players, tradeable players and free agents. We want to look at all these options before we get into it.”
  • Lonzo Ball and Fultz top the list of Knicks possible targets, according to Marc Berman of the New York Post. That’s no surprise, as those are considered the top two prospects in the draft by nearly every expert.
  • Charles Oakley is still facing charges stemming from his infamous February expulsion from Madison Square Garden and says that James Dolan should have been fined or suspended, writes Ted Berg of USA Today Sports. Oakley made his comments on the For the Win podcast.

Lakers Eyeing Four Prospects For Potential Lottery Pick

The Lakers aren’t assured of a lottery pick in this year’s draft, but they appears to be zeroing in on a small handful of prospects in case they do get lucky in next Tuesday’s lottery and hang onto their pick. According to Kevin Ding of Bleacher Report, the Lakers are focusing on Markelle Fultz, Lonzo Ball, Josh Jackson, and De’Aaron Fox.

As has been well-documented, the Lakers will only keep their first-rounder this year if it lands in the top three. Because L.A. finished the NBA’s third-worst record during the regular season, the club’s odds of keeping that pick are just about a coin flip. As our breakdown of the lottery odds shows, there’s a 46.9% chance the Lakers hang onto their selection, and a 53.1% chance it falls outside the top three and gets sent to the Sixers.

While the Lakers won’t find out until next Tuesday night whether or not they’ll have a pick, they’re doing their homework on top prospects now, and will head to Chicago this week for the NBA draft combine. Ball and Jackson are skipping the event, but Fultz and Fox will be in attendance, giving the Lakers a chance to get a first-hand look at the pair of point guards.

Fultz and Jackson are viewed as top-three prospects by most draft experts, so it’s no surprise that they’re among the players being eyed by the Lakers. As for Fox, he’s a little further down on many draft boards, but the Lakers are intrigued by his speed, athleticism, and upside, Ding writes.

Meanwhile, Ball – another consensus top prospect – and his father LaVar have publicly expressed a desire for the UCLA point guard to be selected by the L.A. However, the Lakers have “most definitely have not put Ball on some pedestal as their potential savior,” sources tell Ding.

Draft Notes: Lottery, Fox, Tatum, J. Jackson

While this year’s draft class features a clear-cut top two in Markelle Fultz and Lonzo Ball, the consensus rankings breaks down after that, says ESPN’s Chad Ford (Insider link). As Ford explains, some teams would likely target Kansas forward Josh Jackson with the No. 3 pick, but others – like the Sixers, Magic, Timberwolves, and Knicks – may be more inclined to nab Kentucky sharpshooter Malik Monk once Fultz and Ball are off the board.

Jackson or Monk come in at No. 3 for most of the lottery teams, Ford writes that Dennis Smith Jr. might be the best fit for the Nuggets after the two top point guards. Meanwhile, Ford also suggests that Ball could be a better fit than Fultz for some teams near the top of the lottery, including the Lakers, who “appear to be enamored” with the UCLA product.

Here are a few more draft-related notes worth rounding up:

  • Most of this year’s top 10 prospects won’t be in Chicago next week for the NBA’s draft combine, but De’Aaron Fox is expected to attend, a source tells Jeff Goodman of ESPN.com (Twitter link). Outside of Fox, Markelle Fultz is the only other top prospect whose combine intentions haven’t been reported, though it would be a surprise if Fultz participated.
  • Duke prospect Jayson Tatum isn’t getting any real buzz as a candidate to be picked first overall, but in an appearance on The Sidelines podcast with Evan Daniels, Tatum made the case for why he should be.
  • North Carolina’s Justin Jackson has officially gone pro, forgoing his remaining NCAA eligibility by hiring agent Jim Tanner, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical (Twitter link). Jackson is viewed as a potential lottery pick.
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