The NBA Draft is set to take place on Thursday, July 29, and the list of teams receiving top picks is set. Unlike the NFL, the team with the worst record does not necessarily receive the first overall pick. The order for the first 14 picks is selected using a lottery system.
What is the NBA Lottery?
The NBA lottery is how the league dictates the draft order for teams that missed the playoffs. If you’ve ever played the Powerball, that’s very similar to how the NBA does it. The NBA commissioner picks balls out of a lottery machine that corresponds to a specific team. The worse record you have, the more balls you get in the lottery machine, hence, the team with the worst record has the highest odds of getting the first overall pick. Odds of getting the #1 pick decrease as you move down the list, as teams with a better record have fewer balls in the hopper. The 2021 NBA draft lottery odds are as follows (Note: this list is ranked in order of worst to best regular-season record.)
|Team||Record||Odds of Top 4 Pick||Odds of #1 Pick|
|1. Houston Rockets||17-55||52.1%||14%|
|2. Detriot Pistons||20-52||52.1%||14%|
|3. Orlando Magic||21-51||52.1%||14%|
|4. Oklahoma City Thunder||22-50||45.1%||11.5%|
|5. Cleveland Cavaliers||22-50||45.1%||11.5%|
|6. Minnesota Timberwolves –> Golden State Warriors*||23-49||37.2%||9%|
|7. Toronto Raptors||27-45||31.9%||7.5%|
|8. Chicago Bulls –> Orlando Magic*||31-41||20.3%||6%|
|9. Sacramento Kings||31-41||20.3%||4.5%|
|10. New Orleans Pelicans||31-41||20.3%||4.5%|
|11. Charlotte Hornets||33-39||8.5%||4.5%|
|12. San Antonio Spurs||33-39||8%||1.8%|
|13. Indiana Pacers||34-38||4.8%||1.7%|
|14. Golden State Warriors||39-33||2.4%||0.5%|
The Bulls (8) and Timberwolves (6) are two lottery teams that traded their picks to the Magic and Warriors, respectively.
Out of these 14 teams, three will break out of this group and join the playoff bracket in 2022.
The team of the ’90s has set themselves up for big success this season. The Bulls added some major firepower when they traded for all-star Nikola Vucevic late in the 2021 season. Vucevic is a sharpshooter all over the floor, has great defensive instincts, and is dominant in the paint. He was traded too late to take them to the playoffs this year, but next year watch out! Vucevic will be alongside all-star Zach LaVine, who is currently is in the midst of his prime. LaVine averaged 27 points and 5 assists while rebounding 5 times per game. The 2x dunk contest champion has reached superstardom and will be taking the Bulls with him next year.
Bulls’ PG, Coby White, goes into year 3 of his NBA career poised to be a breakout star. Last season, White averaged 15 points, 4 rebounds, and 5 assists in his 2020 campaign. If he can get his point average up to 20 and assists up to 6 or 7, that will help the Bulls tremendously. Not only will the Bulls starting 5 be ready to compete, but they have a lot of great young depth pieces that will make an impact. Patrick Williams, Garrett Temple, Lauri Markkanen, and Troy Brown Jr. are all young players that could become significant individual contributors for the Bulls.
The Hornets were a fun team to watch this year! Having barely missed the playoffs after falling to the Pacers in the Play-In round, Charlotte will have a chip on its shoulder and come back with a new top recruit in October.
Prior to his injury, Lamelo Ball was running a successful campaign for rookie of the year. His flashy passing and playmaking ability make him an invaluable young asset for a struggling franchise. Lamelo averaged 15 points and 6 assists during his rookie year. Lamelo is one of those players that makes everyone around him better.
Overall, this team has great chemistry. Drafting Lamelo seems to be one of the last pieces of the puzzle. If they draft the right guy in July, they will be in the playoffs next summer.
Golden State Warriors
Steph Curry made a solid case for MVP this year before losing to the Lakers in the Play-in tournament. The Warriors have a lot of young talent, including James Wiseman and Andrew Wiggins, who are productive on the floor and can impact a game when they play to their strengths. What held the warriors back this year was Klay Thompson getting injured during preseason practice. Upon his return this year, the Warriors will have two elite 3 point shooters and an elite defender in Draymond Green. That alone is enough to make the playoffs.
On top of their stacked starting 5, the Warriors have two lottery picks this year. If one of those picks turns out to be a young star, the Warriors will punch their ticket to the playoffs before the season even starts. You could tell they were still working to build chemistry last year, with several new faces in the bay. This offseason, Klay will return, they will work out the kinks in training camp, and go back to running the west in October.