Looking Ahead: Don’t Fear the Lottery

We’re at the All-Star Break and the Nets have four wins, so you’ll have to forgive Sebastian and I for using the time off to write about something that could potentially bring Nets fans a little bit of joy in a few months: the NBA Draft. Over the next few days, look for some great analysis and breakdown from our resident floor general, Sebastian. Meanwhile, I want to kick off the festivities by addressing something that’s been bugging me for a few months now.

There’s an old expression that I think should probably be the slogan for Nets Are Scorching, and countless others NBA blogs in the TrueHoop Network (and other blog networks where the case may be): “There are lies, damned lies, and statistics.” Regardless of history, the perception of “luck” for a franchise, or anything else, the numbers don’t discriminate.

So take me seriously when I tell you Nets fans out there that you can’t negatively obsess about whether or not the team will be able to get the No. 1 pick in the draft this year (and assumingly take John Wall). Yes, here are the FACTS: The team with the worst record in the league gets the most chances to win the draft lottery, resulting in a 1 in 4 chance of that happening. In the past 10 years, only two teams with the worst record in the NBA at the end of the season got the top pick. In 2008, the Chicago Bulls, with the 9th worst record and a 1.7 percent probability, got the first pick and were able to take Derek Rose.

Now here’s the last fact: if you go strictly by numbers, the last 10 year’s of draft lottery history are irrelevant. The fact that the Chicago Bulls won the lottery with long-shot odds in 2008 does not matter in 2010. All that matters it the Nets have a 25 percent chance of getting the top pick – the best chance out of any other team in the NBA. The are guaranteed at worst, the No. 4 pick. In all likelihood, they’re going to get something in-between. There are impact players, capable of playing a role in the turnaround of this team, available with those picks. Now, I’ll let Sebastian do the rest.

Last summer, Sebastian did a terrific breakdown of how the lottery works. Rather than retype it all out, I suggest you just click here and refresh your memory.