Winners and Losers of the NBA Draft Lottery

NBA Draft Lottery
2013 Sacramento Kings 2“, “2013 Phoenix Suns 3“, “2013 Memphis Grizzlies 1“, and “2013 Dallas Mavericks 2” by Michael Tipton are licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

Let me start by first saying the NBA Draft Lottery is a joke. I’ve always been frustrated by the fact that teams don’t always get to pick where they should. Even when I’m playing NBA 2K, the Draft Lottery is one of the most frustrating parts of that game to me. What I like to do is start with a bad team and try to build mostly through the draft. I purposely make sure I have the worst players so I can get the worst record and draft the guy I want, but more than half the time I have to make a trade to get the pick I actually deserve. So frustrating.

It has never made sense to me why the NBA does the draft this way. Are they trying to screw teams over? If they are they’re doing a pretty good job of it. Could you imagine if the NFL did the draft this way? The 0-16 Cleveland Browns could end up with the 3rd pick in the draft, while the 5-11 Chicago Bears could end up with the 1st or 2nd pick. It would be absolute chaos! It’s more frustrating because the NBA is considering changing the playoffs (A system that doesn’t need to be changed), but they won’t change the NBA Draft Lottery (A system that really needs to be changed) to a normal and appropriate system. I imagine several teams in the NBA are feeling the same way I am after getting screwed over in the NBA Draft Lottery last night.

Anyway, nothing can be changed now. The NBA Draft order has been set. Some teams got lucky and others got screwed. Here are the winners and losers of the 2018 NBA Draft Lottery.


Phoenix Suns

The worst team in the NBA having the number one pick in the draft is one of the few things that actually went right. Phoenix gets the spot they actually deserve, which is a big win for them. They now have the option to draft whoever they want. Will it be Luka Doncic or Deandre Ayton? Could it be someone else? The Suns can do whatever they want with this pick. I know the reports said yesterday they’re unlikely to trade the pick, but if they want to trade it, they can. This team has the choice to draft whoever they want or do whatever they want with the first overall pick. Win.

Sacramento Kings 

This is one of the picks that absolutely frustrates me. Kings fans probably disagree, but this team should not be picking 2nd overall in the draft. Sacramento was tied for the 6th worst record with the Chicago Bulls. They should be picking either 6th or 7th, but somehow got so lucky and jumped all the way up to 2nd. If the Suns decision really is between Doncic and Ayton, the Kings will likely pick whoever the Suns don’t. They get lucky enough to grab one of the best prospects in the draft.

Every Team Picking Ahead of or Right Where They Should Be

Of course every team picking ahead of where they should be picking is a winner, they get to move up in the draft. Who wouldn’t want to get a pick higher than their record indicates? We already discussed the Kings, but the Hawks are also a team picking ahead of their projected spot. They should be picking 4th, but got lucky and pushed two worse teams behind them by grabbing the 3rd overall pick.

Every team picking where they should be is included on my winners list also because they didn’t get screwed over. The Cavaliers, Knicks, 76ers, Hornets, Clippers, and Nuggets all got the draft spots they earned, whether that was through their play or making a trade. They didn’t win big like the Kings by getting lucky enough to move four spots higher than they should be, but again, they didn’t get screwed over.


Memphis Grizzlies

Having the 2nd worst record in the NBA and picking 4th in the draft makes me want to say words I shouldn’t say. If I’m frustrated by this, I can’t imagine how the Grizzlies must be feeling right now. This team should have been able to choose between the top two prospects in the draft, but instead they have to wait for three teams to choose before them. Memphis had a 55.8% chance at getting a top three pick, but got so unlucky they’re picking right outside of the top three. The only way they get the guy they wanted now is if they make a trade and give up assets.

Dallas Mavericks

Similar to the Grizzlies, the Mavericks also got screwed by the lottery. They had a 42.6% chance at getting a top three pick, but are now picking 5th in the draft. Dirk Nowitzki already voiced his frustration and disappointment on Twitter about this one. Historically, the Mavericks haven’t had the best luck when it comes to the lottery. Only five times the Mavericks have been in the lottery since 1990 have they picked where they should have been picking, but the best odds they had were 6th. They’ve never received a better pick than what they deserved in that same time frame, leaving them screwed over with a worse pick seven times. They’ve had the best odds twice, but ended up with the 4th and 2nd picks in those years. They couldn’t have worse luck.

Every Team Picking Below Where They Should Be

Dallas and Memphis were the biggest losers in the lottery, but there were a few other teams who lost also. Orlando lost because they had 5th worst record in the league, but ended up with the 6th pick in the draft. I know it’s only one spot, but one spot can make the difference between getting the guy you want or having to go with your second option. Detroit is a loser because they had to give up their pick to the Clippers, who now have the 12th and 13th picks because of the Blake Griffin trade. Chicago was tied with the Kings for the 6th worst record, so they could have received either the 6th or 7th pick. They are losers because they got the 7th pick, but the Kings got the 2nd.

3 replies to “Winners and Losers of the NBA Draft Lottery

      1. During the NBA season I heard endless babble from the talking heads about whether tanking was right or not. Inevitably they would mention the 76ers that are now reaping the benefits of tanking and say it can’t be that bad.

        Liked by 1 person

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