I’m the third guy and lottery education

By: Alex Bogach

Now on to a more technical procedure. I’m writing this mainly because I’m an egotistical, basketball elitist. Maybe that’s not the best way of putting this…I’ll just say I’m doing Lottery Education.

As March Madness draws to a close and our focus turns to the lottery for my beloved Raptors, I figured–instead of covering the prospects (which Noah Burshtein did very humorously earlier this week)–I’d cover something of more importance. Something that needs to be understood.

How the NBA Lottery works. I’ve spent the last three months nodding in approval at Raptors’ losses I figured I should probably have an excellent grasp of the exact odds the Raps have of winning the most important thing for them all season.

Let me breakdown it down.

Each of the 14 non-playoff teams are entered in a lottery with weighted odds of moving up into the top three. Remember it is only the top three. There is no lottery for any of the other spots. So, even the Bobcats finish 13th in the “Tank-Rank” they cannot move up to 12th or 5th or 7th. They can only move up into the top 3. The same goes for every team.

So, the Kings, who are currently slated to finish 5th in the Tank-Ranks, can only move up into the top 3 and cannot finish in 4th.

Here’s where it gets a little tricky. How do teams drop then? Teams drop if teams below them jump into the top three. So, when they’re calling out the draft picks and a team gets skipped that means automatically they will be in the top 3 AND that all the teams they jump ahead of will fall.

Take this example. The Nets are in the 6th spot in the Tank-Ranks. NBA deputy commissioner Adam Smith does not call out their name in the 6th spot. They are guaranteed to finish in the top 3 which means that all of those teams that they jumped (in this case, Sacramento and Toronto will for sure fall one spot).

Here’s my one line summation: the NBA has weighted odds favouring the weakest teams foronly the top 3 spots in the 2011 draft and that after these 3 teams have been found, everyone else falls in order of weakest to strongest.

OK. So let’s assume the Raps stick it out and finish 4th. Here’s what you should be praying for if you are a Raptors fan.

1. That all of the team 5th-14th get called in correct order. If a team gets skipped, it means that unless the Raps have also moved into the top 3, they will fall into at least 5th.

2. That when the 4th pick comes around, Adam Smith does not call the Raptors name guaranteeing us at least a spot in the top 3.

I know a lot of people know this information but I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen or heard people say: “yeah but if the Bobcats move up one spot to 12th and then the Bucks fall 5 spots to 14th then blah blah blah”. Understand it, so you can fully appreciate the greatness that is the NBA Draft Lottery.

Now, how about some fun facts about the draft lottery if the season ended today.

1. The Raptors have an 11.9% chance of getting the first pick overall.

2. The Raptors have 37.8% chance of moving into the top 3 selections.

3. The Raptors have a (gulp) 35.1% chance of dropping to 5th.

4. The Raptors have a (double gulp) 16% chance of dropping to 6th!

5. Thus, better odds of picking 6th than 1st (triple gulp)

6. You know those poor, poor Cavs who lost a million games this year? They have a 25% chance of getting that first pick overall. That seems fair, right?

7. They also have a 35.7% chance of falling into 4th!

8. Houston, the 14th placed team in the “Tank-Rank”, has a staggering 98.2% chance of staying in 14th.

9. They also have a 1.8% chance of moving into the top 3.

Alright, that’s all. Check out the Two Guys blog, I’ll post this on there sometime soon. I guess that’s a shortcoming of this whole blog thing…(re-thinking decision…)

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