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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!

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 details, the 38-year-old Wilkins badly wants to finish the season on an NBA roster.
  • In an entertaining piece for, Tim MacMahon and Law Murray break down some of the unwritten rules of NBA trash talking.
  • Speaking of entertaining pieces, Andrew Sharp of 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.

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 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.

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: G League, Draft Lottery, Wiltjer, Davis

The NBA G League season will tip off on Friday night, with a record-setting 26 teams set to compete this year. While that still leaves a handful of NBA clubs without affiliates of their own, G League president Malcolm Turner tells Sam Amick of USA Today that he’s confident the number of teams in the league will increase to 30 within the next couple years.

“It’s not out of the question that we may find ourselves launching another four teams for [the 2018/19 season] to get us to 30. But I think the realistic timeframe is ’19/20,” Turner said. “Washington is already confirmed for ’18/19. It’s been well reported that New Orleans, where they stand in the process. We expect they will announce within the next month or two, and Portland and Denver are also well down the road in the process of doing it as well, and so we’re excited about that.”

Turner is also encouraged by the fact that the average distance between NBA teams and their affiliates has come down significantly in recent years, allowing franchises to make better use of those affiliates. According to Turner, as recently as five years ago, the average distance between an NBA team and its G League affiliate was about 550 miles — now it’s approximately 120 miles.

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

  • Rather than holding the 2018 draft lottery in New York next spring, the NBA will have the event take place in Chicago on May 15, followed by the combine – also in Chicago – from May 16-20, the league announced on Thursday.
  • Within his latest article for, Zach Lowe wonders if the Magic could be a viable landing spot for Eric Bledsoe, and takes a look at how the Kings‘ veteran free agent acquisitions have underachieved so far.
  • Former Rockets forward Kyle Wiltjer signed a one-year deal this week to play with Olympiacos in Greece, as Nikos Varlas of details. Wiltjer was in camp with the Raptors this fall and was set to play for Toronto’s G League team before deciding to head overseas instead.
  • Veteran big man Glen Davis, who recently signed a G League contract, wasn’t claimed by a team on waivers and will now enter the available player pool, a source tells Adam Johnson of 2 Ways & 10 Days (Twitter link). G League teams set their opening-night rosters this week and likely aren’t looking to make changes right away, so Davis may have to be patient as he waits for an opportunity.

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 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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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 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.

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 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.

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.

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, 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

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.

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’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.

And-Ones: Lottery, Calipari, White

Lottery reform came close to happening last year, but commissioner Adam Silver thinks it will be a couple of years before the league considers it again, as he told Gary Washburn of The Boston Globe.

“There’s a recognition that the lottery is only one aspect of how to build a team,” Silver said. “And given the inflow of the new television money next season and the large increase in the cap, ultimately the owners concluded that while we think we need to take a fresh look at the lottery system, let’s wait and look at the system holistically once the new money comes in.”

The Sixers and Thunder were reportedly the leaders of the opposition to derail a reform measure last year that had appeared likely to pass before they and 13 others teams blocked it. Here’s more from the NBA at large:

  • Rumors persist that John Calipari has interest in coaching in the NBA, with the Kings the team most recently linked to him, but Calipari reiterated to Scott Howard-Cooper of that he wants to remain at the University of Kentucky and doesn’t want an NBA return. “I don’t,” Calipari said. “I went through some things last year and I had a simple question for an owner. The impact I have on these young people, the impact to help change their families’ lives, the impact I have in the seat I’m in at Kentucky to move people in a positive way, can I have that in the NBA? Where do I get the satisfaction from? What do we do that has an impact on a community, has an impact on people, or am I just coaching to try to help you make more money and win a championship? Tell me how because I’m a stage in my life that’s not what moves me.’ “
  • Former first-round pick Royce White is focused on a return to the NBA and is considering a $200K offer from the Amerileague, a new U.S.-based semipro league, reports Jeff Goodman of Four-year veteran and fellow former first-rounder David Harrison has already signed a $200K deal of his own to join the league, which aims to offer top high school talent an alternative to college ball, as Goodman details. “Ultimately I believe I can play in the NBA and I want to do whatever I can to get back there,” said White, whose fear of flying sparked controversy that’s helped limit him to just three NBA appearances so far. “I’m 24 and to this point my career has had little to do with my ability. There’s a lot of misinformation out there that I require a lot of special accommodations and that’s not the case. I’m willing to fly, and flew several times to play in Orlando this past summer [for summer league with the Clippers].”
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