NBA Draft Lottery 101: The primer

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Tomorrow night, Secaucus is the place to be.

Okay, Secaucus, New Jersey, is never THE place to be. Better to be down in Orlando, where the Eastern Conference Finals are taking place, for example. But some team will leave Secaucus Tuesday night thinking they are on the path to the Finals after they win the NBA Draft Lottery because they are going to draft John Wall.

The lottery is a pretty simple process that the NBA has made amazingly complex. Here’s how it works.

The crappier your team was during the regular season, the better their chances of winning the top pick. Nobody was as crappy as the Nets, although Minnesota tried to make a run at it for a while. So here are how the odds of winning break out.

1. New Jersey Nets – 25.0%
2. Minnesota Timberwolves – 19.9%
3. Sacramento Kings – 15.6%
4. Golden State Warriors – 10.4%
5. Washington Wizards – 10.3%
6. Philadelphia 76ers – 5.3%
7. Detroit Pistons – 5.3%
8. Los Angeles Clippers – 2.2%
9. Utah Jazz (from NY Knicks) – 2.2%
10. Indiana Pacers – 1.1%
11. New Orleans Hornets – 0.8%
12. Memphis Grizzlies – 0.7%
13. Toronto Raptors – 0.6%
14. Houston Rockets 0.5%

(These numbers have been updated and corrected to current odds.)

The Bucks draft 15th and from there it simply follows order of best record through the playoff teams. And yes, you see that right, the Isiah Thomas traded away this Knicks pick a few years back. He is the gift that keeps on giving.

When a team like the Nets is losing, the common expression is they are getting more ping-pong balls in the hopper. Not exactly.

There are just 14 ping-pong balls in the hopper, in the lottery machine. That gives you thousands of possible number combinations (1, 2, 3, 4 then 1, 2, 3, 5 and so on and so on). The Nets have a big sheet of paper where they get 25 percent of those combinations. The Timberwolves 19.9 percent, and so on.

So with a representative of each team in the room, a four number combination is drawn from the machine. Whatever team has that combo wins the lottery. Then all the numbers go back in, and four new numbers are drawn, that team is second. Then it happens a third time.

After the top three, the draft lottery will follow the record order listed above. So, for example, the Nets can pick no worse than fourth, if there other teams are selected above them.

Those team representatives in the room are sworn to secrecy, and they have to be different than the person on stage for the team. The person representing the team on the broadcast has no idea what the outcome is.

Well, they know the team with the top pick will take Wall. They just don’t know who that will be.

Gary Payton: “I don’t want to compare” Warriors and 1996 Bulls

OKLAHOMA CITY, OKLAHOMA - MARCH 18:  Hall of fame basketball player Gary Payton watches his son Gary Payton II #1 of the Oregon State Beavers take on the Virginia Commonwealth Rams in the first half in the first round of the 2016 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at Chesapeake Energy Arena on March 18, 2016 in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.  (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)
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Everyone is tired of the who’s-better debate between the 73-win 2016 Warriors and the 72-win 1996 Bulls, but Gary Payton — whose Sonics lost to those Bulls in the Finals — actually has a reasonable take on the matter that most people should be able to agree with.

From an interview with DeAntae Prince of Sports Illustrated:

There have been a lot comparisons between the 72-win Bulls team you played against and this year’s 73-9 Warriors squad. How do you think the Warriors would stack up?

GP: “I don’t compare them and I don’t want to compare them. They’re two different animals. The Bulls did it with a physical type of basketball, we could hand check, we could do a lot of things. It was just a different era. They come back 20 years later and go 73-9. I couldn’t compare them, because if we put Golden State in that era a lot of teams, to me, would give them problems. Because we were more physical, we put our hands on them. A lot of our teams in this era we probably would have fouled out, we probably would have had a lot of problems.”

He may have his personal feelings about which era of basketball was “better,” but his fundamental point is true: they played different styles in different eras. The Warriors wouldn’t do as well in the 1990s, and the Bulls wouldn’t do as well in the 2010s. A hypothetical matchup between the two teams would come down in large part to which era’s rules were in place. We’ll never get a definitive answer, and that’s OK.

Steve Kerr says Andrew Bogut needs to stay out of foul trouble

OAKLAND, CA - MAY 16:  Andrew Bogut #12 of the Golden State Warriors fights for possesion of the ball with Steven Adams #12 of the Oklahoma City Thunder during game one of the NBA Western Conference Final at ORACLE Arena on May 16, 2016 in Oakland, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
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Steve Kerr needs a lot of things to go differently Thursday night if his defending NBA champion Golden State Warriors want to avoid elimination. That starts with Stephen Curry and Draymond Green needing to play much, much better.

But another is for Andrew Bogut to stay on the court — the Warriors defense is 15.9 points per 100 possessions better this series when he is on the court compared to off it. The Warriors are outscoring the Thunder when he plays.

So why not more minutes? Foul trouble, and Kerr wants that to change, as Carl Steward of the San Jose Mercury News reports.

“He’s fouling,” Kerr said. “He’s got 13 fouls in 56 minutes. He’s almost fouling out of every game in 10-15 minutes. He’s got to be smarter with his fouls. We need him out there — he was plus-7 (Tuesday) night in 11 minutes…

“When he’s out there, we rebound better,” he said. “We’ve got a good passer out of the post. We want to play Bogut more, but he’s got to stay on the floor.”

It’s not that simple for Bogut — the Thunder are aggressively attacking the rim and in the NBA the aggressors usually get the calls. Certainly Steven Adams, Serge Ibaka, and the rest of the Thunder front line is more athletic than Bogut.

Doesn’t matter, Bogut must figure out a way to impact shots in the paint, grab boards, and not foul. The Warriors are not winning this series going small, and if they are going to mount any comeback with a big on the court, it’s going to have to start with Bogut.

Jason Terry thinks Dwight Howard could remain with Rockets

HOUSTON, TX - MARCH 18:  Dwight Howard #12 of the Houston Rockets waits on the court during their game against the Minnesota Timberwolves at the Toyota Center on March 18, 2016 in Houston, Texas.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Scott Halleran/Getty Images)
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Everyone else thinks Dwight Howard is getting out of Houston this summer.

Jason Terry isn’t convinced.

Dwight Howard has a player option this summer, which he is expected to exercise and become a free agent. For one thing, he’d do it for the pay raise — he wants a max contract, starting at about $30 million. The other reason is he and James Harden have not blended in Houston, and Howard wants a fresh start.

But Jason Terry isn’t convinced yet. Terry was on SiriusXM NBA Radio and told Justin Termine and Eddie Johnson Howard may stay put. Here is the quote, via Hoopshype.

“I wouldn’t rule (a return) out. He has yet to opt out. Again, it’s just going to depend on if you get the right coach in there. At this point in his career, he’s not going to be the focal point offensively. They’ve made that clear. He’s gonna have to, if he remains in Houston, buy into the role fully, commit himself to setting screens, rebounding, running the floor, blocking shots and working on his free throws, obviously.”

In theory, a coach could come in and convince Howard to stay. In theory, I could capture Bigfoot and prove his existence to the world. Those have about the same odds of happening.

Forgetting the whole “Howard wants another max contract” thing, what Terry said about Howard accepting a role is the issue. Howard said he went directly to Rockets GM Daryl Morey and asked for a bigger role — and he was shot down. Howard does not want to accept a lesser role where his primary job is rebounding and defense, just like he never wanted to accept running more pick-and-roll and working less from the post even though he was much better at the former than the latter. Howard wants what Howard wants.

And I’d be shocked if he doesn’t want out of Houston.

Watch LeBron James’ 23 points during Game 5 win over Toronto

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A good rule of thumb: If LeBron James is getting few breakaway dunks, the other team is in trouble.

Enter the Toronto Raptors, who got to watch a dunking clinic by LeBron as he had multiple breakaways during the Cavaliers’ 38-point win on Wednesday night. LeBron played well, and the Cavaliers got a balanced attack from their stars — 25 points from Kevin Love, 23 each from LeBron and Kyrie Irving.

Watch LeBron’s night above. Toronto needs to find a way to keep him from having another game like this Friday.