What history tells us about the eighth-best odds in the NBA Draft Lottery
History of the 8th-best odds in the NBA Draft Lottery originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington
The Washington Wizards are back in the NBA’s draft lottery after finishing 35-47 for the second consecutive year. Good news, though: last year, that record netted them the 10th best odds at the No. 1 pick in the draft, but this year they’ve slotted in at No. 8.
What can history tell us about the eighth-best odds at the top pick? If you dig deep into the recent history of the NBA Draft Lottery since it was revised in 2019, you’ll find some interesting results.
One caveat to note about Washington’s odds this year pertains to their tiebreaker with the Indiana Pacers. The Wizards lost the tiebreaker, which puts their odds at the No. 1 pick at exactly 6.7%. That’s actually better than in any non-tiebreaker year, in which their odds at the top pick would’ve plateau’d at 6.0% flat. In total, Washington has the best odds at the No. 8 pick (32.9%), second-best odds at the No. 9 pick (31.1%), and a 28.9% chance of selecting in the top-four this year.
So with that in mind, let’s delve into the history of the No. 8 spot in the lottery.
Last year, the New Orleans Pelicans (via the L.A. Lakers) held the 8th spot in the lottery and found themselves neither lucky nor unlucky, as they selected Dyson Daniels at No. 8 overall. Same thing as the year prior, when the Orlando Magic (via Chicago) stayed put at No. 8.
However, go back to 2020 and you’ll really see some magic happen. That was the year the Charlotte Hornets, who finished 23-42, had the eighth-best odds at the top pick, but jumped five spots into the No. 3 overall selection where they ultimately snagged their current franchise centerpiece in LaMelo Ball. That five-spot leap would’ve been the biggest jump since the revamped lottery format, had it not been for the 2019 lottery.
The Zion Williamson draft lottery in 2019 was one of the most anticipated in recent memory. Roughly one month before the Pelicans traded a disgruntled Anthony Davis to the Lakers, they jumped from the No. 7 spot in the draft lottery all the way up to the top overall pick, where they could pick arguably the most highly anticipated draft prospect since LeBron James. They only had a 6.00% chance of getting the top pick when the lottery spots were finalized.
That very same year, the Memphis Grizzlies held the odds the Wizards currently have – the No. 8 spot in the lottery. They also experienced some lottery luck, and like the Pelicans, jumped six spots up to No. 2 overall. With the No. 2 pick in the draft, they selected their current franchise star in Ja Morant.
2019 also saw the biggest overall leapfrog in the current draft lottery format, when the L.A. Lakers jumped seven spots. Originally slotted with the No. 11 spot in the lottery, the Lakers ended up with the fourth overall pick where they drafted De’Andre Hunter (who ultimately went to Atlanta after two separate trades).
Simply put, no, the Wizards don’t have amazing odds of landing a top-four pick. But in just four NBA Drafts under the new lottery format, the No. 8 team in the lottery has jumped into the top four twice.
Washington has experienced both great fortune and misfortune in the lottery. They had the sixth-best odds at the top pick in 2019, but fell back three spots to No. 9 where they would ultimately draft Rui Hachimura.
On the flip side, the Wizards last held the No. 8 spot in 2013 but had the best luck of any team in the league and jumped up five spots to the No. 3 pick, where they selected Otto Porter Jr. You have to go all the way back to 1991 to find the last time before that Washington held the No. 8 spot in the lottery. The Denver Nuggets held the Bullets’ pick that year, but ultimately stayed put and drafted Mark Macon eighth overall.
In 2010, though they didn’t have the eighth-best odds (rather, fifth-best that year), the Wizards banked in on their 10.3% chance at the top overall pick and won the rights to draft John Wall. This year’s draft lottery falls on May 16. Time will tell if the Wizards have luck on their side.
Source: Yahoo Sports