Tuesday, October 4 2022

As owners of the NBA’s worst record, the Houston Rockets were eliminated from 2022 playoff contention some time ago. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t plenty to watch for as the 2021-22 season winds down.

From now until the regular season’s conclusion on Sunday, April 10, we’re updating where the Rockets stand in relation to their closest competitors in the race for 2022 NBA draft lottery odds and positioning.

Houston owns two picks in this year’s first round: Their own, and one from Brooklyn. For purposes of these updates, we’re going to focus on teams (at the time of publication) within three games in either direction of both the Rockets and Nets in the standings.

After a second straight season at the bottom of the West, will the Rockets land another elite prospect such as Chet Holmgren, Jabari Smith or Paolo Banchero for their troubles? Scroll on for the latest updates as of April 7, along with information on odds and tiebreaker scenarios.

Wednesday’s most relevant games (April 6)

It is beneficial to the eventual landing spot of both picks for teams in proximity to Houston and Brooklyn in the standings to win. The reverse is true when it comes to each team’s results, since the best-case outcomes for draft odds and slots arise from having a worse record.

With that in mind, here are the teams to focus on, as of April 7.

Teams within two games of Houston: Orlando Magic

Teams within two games of Brooklyn: Atlanta Hawks, Charlotte Hornets, Los Angeles Clippers, Cleveland Cavaliers

Wednesday’s games involving any of those teams:

  • Nets 110, Knicks 98

  • Hawks 118, Wizards 103

  • Clippers 113, Suns 109

(NBA scores)

Thursday’s most relevant games (April 7)

Teams within two games of Houston: Orlando Magic

Teams within two games of Brooklyn: Atlanta Hawks, Charlotte Hornets, Los Angeles Clippers, Cleveland Cavaliers

Thursday’s games involving any of those teams:

(NBA scores)

Updated April 7 standings for Houston’s pick

Houston’s current draft placement plus teams within two games:

  • 1. Houston, 20-60

  • 2. Orlando, 21-59 (tie)

To put it mildly, Tuesday was very significant in this race. Not only did the Rockets move a game in front of the Magic thanks to Orlando’s unexpected win over Cleveland, but Houston’s loss also eliminated the Pistons and Thunder from the race for the No. 1 positioning spot. (The Rockets have three fewer wins and only two games left to play.)

While the No. 1 and No. 2 slots have the same “lottery odds” of landing a top-four pick, the team in the No. 1 slot cannot fall below No. 5, no matter what. The team in the No. 2 slot, on the other hand, can fall to No. 6 in the first-round order. That’s the importance of finishing “first.”

What happens if the Rockets and Magic finish tied? More on that later.

Updated April 7 standings for Brooklyn’s pick

Brooklyn’s current draft placement plus teams within two games:

  • 13. Charlotte (lottery), 40-39

  • 14. Atlanta (lottery), 42-38

  • 15. Clippers, 40-40

  • 16. Brooklyn, 42-38

  • 17. Cleveland, 43-37

With Wednesday’s rally from a 21-point deficit at Madison Square Garden versus the Knicks, Brooklyn moved closer to securing a home game in the Eastern Conference play-in tournament for the 2022 NBA playoffs. At this point, the Nets cannot make the playoffs without going through the play-in tournament, so it is simply a matter of whether they have to win one game or two, and if they play at home or on the road.

If the Nets and Hawks remain tied, Brooklyn wins that tiebreaker.

Draft lottery odds, without ties

This chart applies to Houston’s pick, as well as Brooklyn’s if it misses the Eastern Conference playoffs. The NBA’s current lottery system involving the 14 non-playoff teams draws for the first four picks by weighted odds (with the worst teams having better odds), and the 10 teams who are not drawn are then slotted by record from No. 5 to No. 14.

Note that while the top-four odds are identical for the bottom-three teams, there is a significant difference when it comes to floor scenarios. The team with the worst record cannot fall below No. 5 overall. The team with the third-worst record can drop to the No. 7 pick.

(via Tankathon)

Frequently asked questions

What happens if there is a tie? Tied lottery teams split their draft lottery odds evenly. For example, if Detroit and Oklahoma City tie for the No. 3 seed, or the third-worst record, the combined odds between No. 3 and No. 4 would then be split down the middle. Consider it 3.5.

However, a random coin flip would also be held to determine which team drafts higher in scenarios where neither team is a lottery winner. Head-to-head results between any tied teams are not considered.

What happens if Brooklyn goes on a deep playoff run out of a low seed? This is a fair question, since part of Brooklyn’s underwhelming season is due to widespread injuries, along with only having Kyrie Irving as a part-time player for much of the year due to New York City’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate. Many of these problems have recently been resolved, making the Nets more dangerous than their record suggests.

However, unlike the NFL, results in the playoffs cannot change a team’s draft spot in the NBA. Even if the Nets were to somehow win the NBA championship out of the No. 8 seed, their draft pick (headed to Houston) would be solely based on their regular-season record.

Remaining strength of schedule, as of April 7

Having a top strength-of-schedule number means that particular team has a harder remaining schedule, which on paper suggests that they are more likely to lose games. If that occurs, it could lead to superior draft positioning in a race with competitors who have easier schedules.

Rockets and teams within two games:

Nets and teams within two games:

  • Charlotte: No. 26

  • Atlanta: No. 21

  • Clippers: No. 30

  • Brooklyn: No. 24

  • Cleveland: No. 7

(via Tankathon)

Remaining Rockets, Nets games in 2021-22 regular season

  • Houston: Toronto (road, 4/8), Atlanta (home, 4/10)

  • Brooklyn: Cleveland (home, 4/8), Indiana (home, 4/10)

This post originally appeared on Rockets Wire. Follow us on Facebook!

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Source: Yahoo Sports

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