NBA lottery all about the percentages

YONG KIM / STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER Sixers coach Brett Brown is likely to have a very different team next season.
YONG KIM / STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER Sixers coach Brett Brown is likely to have a very different team next season.
Posted: May 21, 2014

Tuesday is a big night for the 76ers. It's the NBA draft lottery. Their entire strategy of wink-wink-tanking the 2013-14 season - a smart and prudent long-term course of action - was predicated on increasing the chances that they would secure a high-enough pick to draft a difference-making player.

And because the Sixers last year acquired a lottery-protected first-round pick from the New Orleans Pelicans in the Jrue Holiday trade, they are likely to end up with two selections among the top 10 in this year's draft.

So if the balls bounce the right way, the Sixers will have an opportunity to accelerate their rebuilding process come June 26, the night of the draft. For those of you unfamiliar with how the lottery works, though, it's not as easy as assuming that, because the Sixers had the second-worst record in the league this season, they are all but assured of getting the No. 2 overall selection. They're not. There's a host of percentages to consider and possibilities that could play out.

Fortunately, we at The Inquirer are committed to simplifying the complex and clarifying the obscure. Consider this, then, your handy guide to understanding the lottery and the various potential outcomes for the Sixers.

There is a 55.8 percent chance that the Sixers will end up with one of the draft's top three picks.

There is a 55.8 percent chance that they will draft a player whose name you would have recognized before the start of this year's NCAA tournament.

There is a 19.9 percent chance that the Sixers will end up with the No. 1 pick.

There is a 100 percent chance that, if the Sixers take Kansas forward Andrew Wiggins as the No. 1 overall pick, they will be criticized for drafting a player who shot 1 for 6 and scored four points in his final collegiate game, because no No. 1 overall pick had ever had a bad game until Wiggins came along.

There is an 18.8 percent chance that the Sixers will end up with the No. 2 pick.

There is a 99.9 percent chance that, if they do, they won't draft Shawn Bradley. (Hey, it happened once before, so you can't completely rule it out.)

There is a 17.1 percent chance that the Sixers will end up with the No. 3 pick.

There is a 71.1 percent chance that, if the Sixers take Duke's Jabari Parker with that pick, ESPN's Dick Vitale will emit a noise that can be described only as "schoolgirlish" and laud the selection because Parker learned everything that is good and right and wonderful about basketball during the six months he spent with Mike Krzyzewski.

There is a 31.9 percent chance that the Sixers will end up with the No. 4 pick.

There is a 94.1 percent chance that, if the Sixers do end up with the No. 4 pick, general manager Sam Hinkie will be criticized for throwing away an entire regular season and failing to get a top-three pick. There is, in turn, a 0.01 percent chance that Hinkie will publicly acknowledge the criticism.

There is a 12.4 percent chance that the Sixers will end up with the No. 5 pick.

There is an 86.6 percent chance that, if the Sixers select Australian guard Dante Exum with that pick, someone will make a dumb Crocodile Dundee joke on draft night. There's also an 86.6 percent chance that someone will be me.

There's a 4.0 percent chance that the Pelicans will secure a top-three pick and, in doing so, retain the rights to that pick and deny the Sixers a second selection in the top 10.

There's a 0.4 percent chance that another North American professional sports franchise will decide to call itself "the Pelicans."

There is an 87 percent chance that the Sixers, in addition to being assured of a spot in the top five, will end up with the No. 10 pick.

There is a 97 percent chance that, if the Sixers select Creighton's Doug McDermott with that pick, an NBA analyst will compare McDermott to Larry Bird, per The First Rule of Lazy Basketball Analysis: "All highly drafted white players must be compared to Larry Bird."

There is an 8.9 percent chance that the Sixers will end up with the No. 11 pick.

There is an 11.1 percent chance that Hinkie and the Sixers will draft a point guard with the No. 11 pick and trade Michael Carter-Williams, last year's No. 11 pick, to acquire next year's No. 11 pick. It's also possible that Hinkie could package last year's No. 11 pick and this year's No. 11 pick to acquire 11 second-round picks this year and next year, but there's only a 1.1 percent chance of that happening.


msielski@phillynews.com

@MikeSielski

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