Whenever a team gets hurt, many fans of this team will point to luck as a contributing factor.
“If our first-round pick had been made out, we would have been fine!”
“If we had just won a few more of those close games, we would be in the playoffs.”
In the NBA, the lottery project is one more thing for the unhappy voice. Many NBA fans who have had the misfortune to cheer on a team that rarely reaches the playoffs have complained through the years that the NBA lottery has been unfavorable to their team. Every fanbase likes to say that their team is the most unfortunate of all when it comes time for NBA chief executive Mark Tatum to announce the draft order.
Every year it happens and, frankly, I get tired of it. I’m tired of the pity party that some fanbases try to impose on everyone else. “Yeah, we’re bad, but you have to feel bad for us because we’ve been so unlucky with the lottery.” Well, I took it into account to understand how lucky and unfortunate every NBA team has been in terms of the lottery project in recent years. Let’s look at the data.
Over the past five years, all six NBA teams have participated in the minimum lottery at least once (fast hats to the Celtics, Rockets, Pacers, Thunder, Trailblazers and Raptors to be the only teams in the league to reach in postseason each of the last five years). Of the remaining 24 teams, 16 have been drawn in the lottery at least three times. These are the teams we’re going to watch:
Los Angeles lakers
New Orleans Pelicans
New York Knicks
Each team can be incredibly lucky or unlucky once or twice. It’s the teams that get lucky year after year that interest us here. Also, I make sure to include years where a team’s choices have been exchanged. The Nets have given up a lot of their first-round picks in the last half-decade, but that doesn’t mean they’ve been less fortunate with the lottery; they barely did horrible trades.
But how do we determine the most successful and unfortunate teams? The easiest method is to compare the average writing position (ADP) of each qualified team with its average league position (ALP) at the end of the regular season. Take the Minnesota Timberwolves, they’ve missed the postseason four of the last five seasons. In those seasons, they averaged the league’s sixth-best record at the end of the regular season. In that same span, the T-Wolves have averaged the sixth overall pick in the NBA draft this year. Along with the Brooklyn Nets (averaged the 4th-highest record, averaged the 4th overall pick), the draft lottery treated the two teams more fairly.
By this metric, the three most unfortunate teams of the last five years are (difference in ADP vs. ALP in parentheses):
T1) Dallas Mavericks (-1.67)
T1) Atlanta Hawks (-1.67)
3) Washington Wizards (-1.33)
Here are the three luckiest teams:
1) Los Angeles Lakers (+2)
2) Charlotte Hornets (+1.5)
3) Memphis Grizzlies (+1)
In case you’re curious, below are the numbers for all 30 NBA teams. The columns – from left to right – indicate the average odds of receiving the first overall pick, the average odds of receiving a top-3 selection, the average draft pick, the average league placement, the difference between the last two, and yet several years each team has qualified for the lottery project in the last five years.
This is interesting. The three teams with the least luck will all make it to the postseason in 2020. And while the Mavericks and Hawks have been the two most unlucky teams in the last five years, those two teams have had two of the best draft picks in the world. this field when the teams selected Luka Dončić and Trae Young in 2018 – two players (later exchanged for the other) those teams might have gone through if they had chosen more in the draft.
At the same time, the most successful team in the league raises an eyebrow. On average, the Los Angeles Lakers have increased two places compared to their league placement at the end of the regular season. The NBA lottery has long attracted the eye of many skeptics and conspiracy theorists. One of the most popular theories regarding the lottery draft has been that it has helped push the narratives that the NBA wants, especially those surrounding LeBron James. When LeBron was in Miami, lottery critics pointed to the Knights ’fortunes in the draft lottery as a key factor in the Cavs’ ability to win. write or use your draft picks to swap for stellar players to invite King James to return to Cleveland.
When LeBron James had to make another free agency decision before the 2019 season, the Lakers were a stimulating option because of their recent draft picks. Both Lonzo Ball and Brandon Ingram were former second-round picks and were key players in the Lakers ’trade for Anthony Davis. I’m not saying the lottery is rigged. It’s probably just a coincidence. I just say …
Back to the point, if you’re a fan of a team that has been around a while in the dumps, you just know that things can get messy. You could be a fan of the Magi. Although Washington will reach the postseason in 2021, the Magi have been one of the most unlucky teams in the NBA lottery recently. So the next time you try to play the “We just got lucky” card, be sure to check out your lottery ticket.