NBA Draft Lottery 101: The primer


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.

PBT Extra: Kobe Bryant understands now is time to walk away

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It was expected Kobe Bryant would retire at the end of this season.

It was not expected Kobe would make that official on Nov. 29 — it’s caught the media at Staples Center Sunday (of which I was one) and the fans by surprise.

In this PBT Extra, I talk with Jenna Corrado about the mood inside Staples Center Sunday.

More importantly, I discuss the sense I got that Kobe understands it’s time to walk away, and he is at peace with that.

Luke Walton: Warriors concerned about health, not 72 wins

Andre Iguodala, Luke Walton
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Stephen Curry acknowledges the Warriors – who are 18-0 and won four straight to end last season – talk about the NBA record of 33 consecutive wins.

But what about another major record Golden State is chasing, 72 wins in a season?

Shooting guard Klay Thompson called it possible. General manager Bob Myers deemed it impossible.

Interim coach Luke Walton would prefer everyone just keep quiet.

Walton, via CSN Bay Area:

“The 72 thing is far, far away,” Walton said. “We shouldn’t be spending any time thinking about that.

“I’ve also said before that we’re not going to coach this season trying to chase that record,” Walton said

“We’re still going to give players nights off on back-to-backs,” he added. “And we’re going to do our best to limit minutes for some of our players. Our main concern is being healthy come playoff time.”

I don’t think Golden State will win 72 games, but prioritizing health won’t necessary stop the Warriors. They’re so deep.

They outscore opponents by 5.8 points per 100 possessions when Curry sits, 5.6 when Draymond Green sits. Those marks would rank seventh among all NBA teams.

Golden State has the luxury of resting players and continuing to win. That’s what makes the chase for 72 realistic. This team is less likely than most to wear down late in a season where it’s pushing to win every game.

Health entering the playoffs is important, but a 72-win season would raise these Warriors to legendary status. If they’re in range late in the season, I think they’ll go for it – even if the top seed is already secured.

But for now, Walton is probably taking the right approach. Plenty of teams start fast (though never this fast) then drift back toward the pack. No point risking Golden State’s health yet.

Kevin Durant to media: You treated Kobe Bryant ‘like s—‘

Kobe Bryant, Kevin Durant

Kevin Durant once told the media, “You guys really don’t know s—.”

The Thunder star expressed regret, but if he knew how we were going to treat Kobe Bryant, he might have stuck to his guns.

Durant, via Anthony Slater of The Oklahoman:

I did idolize Kobe Bryant. I studied him, wanted to be like him. He was our Michael Jordan. I watched Michael towards the end of his career when he was with the Wizards, and I seen that’s what Kobe emerged as the guy for us.

I’ve been disappointed this year because you guys treated him like s—. He’s a legend, and all I hear is about how bad he’s playing, how bad he’s shooting. It’s time for him to hang it up. You guys treated one of our legends like s—, and I didn’t really like it. So hopefully, now you can start being nice to him now that he decided to retire after this year. It was sad the way he was getting treated, in my opinion.

But he had just an amazing career, a guy who changed the game for me as a player mentally and physically. Means so much to the game of basketball. Somebody I’m always going to look to for advice, for help, for anything. Just a brilliant, brilliant, intelligent man. And it’s sad to see him go.

Kobe is shooting 20% from the floor and 30% on 3-pointers for a 2-14 team. How else should we describe his season?

Why not bash the person most publicly critical of Kobe? Or the many people around the NBA who recognize how far Kobe has fallen? Or Byron Scott, who has repeatedly intensified discussion of Kobe’s demise?

Why is the media, which is not some monolithic entity anyway, the primary target?

There are writers who fawn over Kobe, writers who criticize him and many more who do both. We don’t all think alike.

If we did, Durant would be bound to treat Kobe like s—, too.

Hassan Whiteside thanks Hassan Whiteside in Kobe Bryant tribute


Like many players, Hassan Whiteside posted a tribute to Kobe Bryant upon the Laker star’s retirement announcement.

But Whiteside’s is a bit, um, different.

Whiteside salutes himself for making Kobe smile. (That’s not a smile.) The Heat center also tweeted a screenshot of the Instagram post with the hashtag “#koberetire,” which sounds pretty commanding.

Is Whiteside in on the joke or is he that self-centered? I’m honestly not entirely sure.