2014 NBA Draft Lottery Preview: Draft order, protected picks, and lottery probabilities

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The NBA Draft Lottery takes place Tuesday night, and in a year where the talent pool in the draft appears to be deeper than normal, jumping to the front of the line by bucking the odds is less important than it may have been in seasons past.

No pun intended where the Milwaukee Bucks are concerned, who finished with the league’s worst record and hold the highest probability of securing the number one overall pick via the most combination of ping pong balls assigned to their team’s chances.

The results of the lottery will be nationally televised on ESPN at 8 p.m. ET, but the actual drawings will take place before then. Here are the particulars of that process, via official release:

“Fourteen ping-pong balls numbered 1 through 14 will be placed in a drum.  There are 1,001 possible combinations when four balls are drawn out of 14, without regard to their order of selection. Prior to the lottery, 1,000 of those 1,001 combinations will be assigned to the 14 participating lottery teams.

“The Milwaukee Bucks finished the season with the NBA’s worst record (15-67), so they will be assigned the first 250 combinations. The Phoenix Suns, the best team in the lottery at 48-34, will have only five combinations out of 1,000.

“Four balls will be drawn to the top to determine a four-digit combination. The team that has been assigned that combination will receive the number one pick. The four balls are placed back in the drum and the process is repeated to determine the number two and three picks. (Note: If the one unassigned combination is drawn, the balls are drawn to the top again.)

“The order of selection for the teams that do not win one of the top three picks will be determined by inverse order of their regular season record. Thus, Milwaukee can pick no lower than fourth, Philadelphia (19-63) no lower than fifth and Orlando (23-59) no lower than sixth.

“The actual Lottery procedure will take place in a separate room just prior to the national broadcast on ESPN with select media, NBA officials and representatives of the participating teams and the accounting firm of Ernst & Young in attendance.”

The actual probabilities that each team has can be viewed in the chart below — use the controls to zoom in for a better look to search the image.

Here’s the order of what the top 14 picks of the draft look like prior to the lottery results (via NBA.com), along with the explanations of any protected picks:

1

Milwaukee
(Lottery chances: 25.0%)
2

Philadelphia
(Lottery chances: 19.9%)
3

Orlando
(Lottery chances: 15.6%)
4

Utah
(Lottery chances: 11.9%)
5

Boston
(Lottery chances: 8.8%)
6

L.A. Lakers
(Lottery chances: 6.3%)
7

Sacramento
(Lottery chances: 3.6%)
8

Detroit
(Lottery chances: 3.5%)
*This pick will go to the Charlotte Hornets if it ends up being outside of the top 8. There is no more than a 16.78 percent chance of this happening.
9

Cleveland
(Lottery chances: 1.7%)
10

New Orleans
(Lottery chances: 1.1%)
*This pick will go to the Sixers, unless it ends up being in the top five. There is no more than a 1.58 percent chance of this happening.
11

Denver
(Lottery chances: 0.8%)
*Orlando receives the less favorable of the Knicks and Nuggets picks. If the draft order holds according to probability, New York would give up its pick to the Magic.
12

New York
(Lottery chances: 0.7%)
*Orlando receives the less favorable of the Knicks and Nuggets picks. If the draft order holds according to probability, New York would give up its pick to the Magic.
13

Minnesota
(Lottery chances: 0.6%)
*This pick would go to the Suns if it were to drop out of the top 13. There is no more than a 1.8 percent chance of this happening.
14

Phoenix
(Lottery chances: 0.5%)

For a visualization and more concise look at each team’s chances of landing which picks, Dan Feldman broke it all down for us here.

Celtics to retire Paul Pierce’s number after Cavaliers game in February

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The Celtics already said they’d retire Paul Pierce’s No. 34.

Now, we know when.

Celtics release:

The Boston Celtics announced today that they will retire Paul Pierce’s No. 34 after a mid-season game against the Cleveland Cavaliers on Sunday, Feb. 11

After? That’s apparently in response to a new rule that penalizes teams not ready to play after a 15-minute halftime. These ceremonies can drag on, and nobody wants to cut Pierce short. I wonder whether this will start a trend of number retirements coming after games.

DeMarcus Cousins on Confederate statues: ‘Take all them motherf—ers down’

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DeMarcus Cousins grew up in Alabama, played collegiately at Kentucky and now plays in New Orleans.

So, yeah, the Pelicans star has an opinion on Confederate statues.

Cousins, via TMZ:

“Take all them motherf*ckers down,” Cousins said … “Take ’em all down.”

These statues glorify people because they fought a war against the United States in the name of preserving the racist institution of slavery.

Not whom I want to honor, either.

Kevin Durant: Kyrie Irving-LeBron James situation ‘just a regular NBA problem’

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Kevin Durant knows something about star teammates not always getting along.

So, the Warriors forward is not freaking out about the disconnect between Kyrie Irving and LeBron James and Irving’s subsequent trade request.

Durant, via Chris Haynes of ESPN:

“It’s just a regular NBA problem, right? A lot of teams have gone through this before,” Durant told ESPN. “They’ll figure it out. That’s a great organization, a championship organization. They’ll figure it out.”

“It’s not the end of the world,” Durant said. “Both of those guys won a championship together. They love each other. If Kyrie wants to do something else, that’s on him. I’m sure whatever happens, it’ll work out for the best for both of them. But it’s just a normal NBA problem. It’s just two big stars that it’s happening to.”

Durant is definitely right in the larger sense. Teammates spat and requests trades more often than we realize. Remember, both Irving and the Cavaliers probably prefer this never became public.

But I’m not sure Cleveland will figure this out with the ease Durant suggests. David Griffin, who had proven so adept at putting out these fires, is gone. LeBron’s free agency looms. This could be extremely destructive to the Cavs.

The fact that this “regular NBA problem” became public only intensifies it – and raises it something greater.

Report: Heat signing Jordan Mickey

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Jordan Mickey – the No. 33 pick by the Celtics in 2015 – became the first second-round pick in memory to sign the year he was drafted and receive a higher initial salary than first-round picks.

He’s keeping the checks coming.

Shams Charania of Yahoo Sports:

Mickey will be the Heat’s 16th player with a standard contract, though Matt Williams (unguaranteed) will likely be waived to meet the regular-season roster limit.

I’m not sure where Mickey fits on this team, which already has several bigs. Hassan Whiteside, Bam Adebayo and Kelly Olynyk will likely play ahead of him. Miami also has A.J. Hammons (who might be just dead salary) and Udonis Haslem (who might provide nothing more than veteran leadership).

The Heat could just see Mickey as someone they can develop. At that point, how he fits into the current roster doesn’t really matter.

Mickey – 6-foot-8 with a 7-foot-3 wingspan – is a mobile defender with nice timing for blocking shots inside. He even possesses a work-in-progress 3-pointer in his arsenal. There’s plenty for Miami to help mold.