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.

Suns, Crowder agree he will sit out training camp while they seek a trade

Jae Crowder does salsa dance in Suns-Lakers Game 6
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Jae Crowder wants out of Phoenix and the Suns have been looking for a trade to accommodate that.

It hasn’t come together, so the Suns and Crowder agreed he should sit out training camp while they find one (this team does not need another distraction in camp).

We knew this was coming because Crowder himself announced it a couple of days ago. While he deleted the Tweet, nothing ever completely disappears online.

Two quick thoughts on this news.

First, it means Cameron Johnson will start at the four, something that was likely anyway as the Suns look to add shooting to help space the floor.

Second, this news does not help the Suns’ leverage in getting a trade. It’s understandable that Crowder didn’t want to be in camp and that the Suns didn’t want the distraction, but now everyone knows the pressure on the Suns to get a deal done and they will lowball their offer.

There are a few potential landing spots out there. Crowder hinted online he would welcome a return to Miami, and the Heat need help at the four after P.J. Tucker left for Philly. The Heat would base a trade around Duncan Robinson, but to make the salaries match the Suns would have to throw in another player — Dario Saric, Landry Shamet, Cameron Payne, Torey Craig or after Jan. 15  — and that seems unlikely.

Atlanta, Dallas, Chicago, Boston (but it’s tough to make the salaries match up), and even a team like Minnesota could work. The challenge is the Suns are a win-now team and will want a player who can help them this season and all those teams are in the same space. Right now there may not be an offer available. As camps open and teams start to understand what they do and don’t have, a deal could come together.

Crowder will be home waiting for that to happen, not with the Suns team.

Giannis Antetokounmpo says Stephen Curry is the best player in the world

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Giannis Antetokounmpo is at the top of pretty much every “best player in the world” list right now.

Except his own.

For Antetokounmpo, the best player in the world is the one that leads his team to the title, so today, it is Stephen Curry (hat tip to Lance Allen of NBC Milwaukee).

It’s easy to see where Antetokounmpo is coming from, but basketball is a team game. The best player may not be on the best team, despite his skill set, and that team may not win. Curry was spectacular in leading the Warriors to their fourth banner since he arrived, he’s near the top of the best in the world list, but it’s not all about winning.

The takeaway from what Antetokounmpo said is how much he wants to win — he wants a second ring.

The Bucks enter the season as one of the favorites to win that ring, but it’s going to take a lot of things going right for that to happen.

Including Antetokounmpo showing he is the best player in the world.

 

Is Matisse Thybulle ready for a big step forward with 76ers?

Pregame of Philadelphia 76ers vs Miami Heat
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Matisse Thybulle brings a valuable NBA skill to the table — he is an elite perimeter defender. Two-time All-Defensive Team in three years in the league.

But when the 76ers got up against Miami in the playoffs, Thybulle’s role shrank dramatically. While Doc Rivers needed his defense, Thybulle’s lack of an offensive game became a problem — the Heat largely ignored him and helped off him, allowing Miami to muck up the Philly offense (he was limited in the Toronto series because he was not vaccinated and could not play in road games). The 76ers tried to solve that problem this offseason by bringing in DeAnthony Melton, Danuel House and P.J. Tucker — solid role-playing defenders who can contribute on offense, too.

Thybulle wants to be part of the solution, too, and told Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Inquirer he spent the summer focused on his offensive game.

“I’m really proud of what I did,” Thybulle said of his offseason. “I’ve worked harder than I’ve worked. And I had a meeting with [Sixers coach Doc Rivers] early this week and was telling him I feel more bought in than I’ve been before.”

No doubt Thybulle put in the work, we will find out soon if it paid off — and if that will get Thybulle paid.

Thybulle is entering a contract year — the 76ers can extend him up until Oct. 18, after which he would become a restricted free agent next summer. Thybulle said his goal is to remain in Philadelphia (and he’d like an extension).

“At this point, I would always want to stay in Philly,” he said. “And if it’s up to me, that’s always going to be my choice.

“But considering that I’ve realized the reality of how far out of my control it is, if I do get traded or something does end up happening, I can look at myself in the mirror at the end of the day.”

With a win-now Sixers team, Daryl Morey may be in a wait-and-see place with Thybulle, letting the market set his price next offseason. If he signs now, it will likely be on a team-friendly deal (but maybe one that still works for the 25-year-old).

If Thybulle gets on the court this season and shows an improved offensive game, one where he can make teams pay for helping off him, his price goes up and there may be multiple teams bidding for his services next summer. And Doc Rivers would be happy in the short term.

It’s up to Thybulle to prove it now.

 

Markelle Fultz will miss start of training camp, at least, with broken toe

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The basketball gods continue to turn their backs on Markelle Fultz.

A torn ACL had limited him to 26 games over the past two seasons, but he was healthy and ramping up to a larger role this season with a young and interesting Magic team. Then came the news he fractured his left big toe during a training session. As a result, he will be out for at least the start of training camp, the team announced. From the official announcement:

“He has been placed in a walking boot and his return to play will depend on how he responds to rehabilitation and treatment. Fultz suffered the injury during a preseason workout prior to returning to Orlando and imaging confirmed the fracture.

He will not need surgery, according to the team.

Fultz was set to split point guard duties with Cole Anthony, this injury means RJ Hampton could see more run at the point for now. Fultz should be able to return either during the end of the preseason or early in the season.

Fultz was the No.1 pick in the 2017 NBA Draft but never found his footing with the 76ers (in part due to injury). However, since getting out of that spotlight and allowed to develop in Orlando he’s been a solid rotation point guard when healthy. Last season in 18 games he averaged 10.8 points and 5.5 assists a game, and while he’s still not an efficient shooter he can run a team.

How Anthony and, eventually, Fultz will work off the ball as rookie Paolo Banchero gets the opportunity to create more offense will be just one of the interesting things to watch with this Magic team this year. We’ll have to wait a little while to see Fultz.