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Everything you need to know about the 2017 NBA Draft Lottery (and why the Denver Nuggets should win)

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The 2017 NBA Draft Lottery is today!

NCAA Basketball: UCLA at Washington Jennifer Buchanan-USA TODAY Sports

The NBA Draft Lottery is here! The Lottery is depressingly an annual holiday for Denver Nuggets fans and despite the team making every effort and coming painfully close to not being a participant this year, it was not meant to be. It’s actually a double whammy that the Nuggets came so close to the playoffs because not only were they left just on the outside looking in, but also their performance was good enough to warrant them the second worst odds of winning the lottery. Nonetheless Denver hoops junkies will tune in, clinging to the faint hope that they might move up to grab that next star.

Denver is just one team with interesting subplots in the lottery. The Los Angeles Lakers for example are playing the ultimate game of high stakes NBA lottery. Either they end up with a top three pick, or they end up with nothing at all. The Sacramento Kings meanwhile have multiple picks in pla, with the opportunity to lose their own pick, but also pick up a pick from the New Orleans Pelicans. The Chicago Bulls are one of those teams watching Sacramento as they have a chance to win the Kings pick, but just like the Nuggets, they’re going to need a lot of help from the lottery gods to get it done.

The Basics

What: The NBA Draft Lottery

When: 6PM MDT

Where: New York, NY

How to watch: ESPN

Draft Lottery Odds

Team Record Chance at 1st pick Chance at 2nd pick Chance at 3rd pick
Team Record Chance at 1st pick Chance at 2nd pick Chance at 3rd pick
1. Boston 20-62 25.00% 21.50% 17.76%
2. Phoenix 24-58 19.90% 18.81% 17.11%
3. L.A. Lakers* 26-56 15.60% 15.74% 15.58%
4. Philadelphia 28-54 11.90% 12.60% 13.29%
5. Orlando 29-53 8.80% 9.65% 10.67%
6. Minnesota 31-51 5.30% 6.03% 6.98%
7. New York 31-51 5.30% 6.03% 6.98%
8. Sacramento** 32-50 2.80% 3.26% 3.88%
9. Dallas 33-49 1.70% 2.00% 2.41%
10. New Orleans*** 34-48 1.10% 1.30% 1.58%
11. Charlotte 36-46 0.80% 0.95% 1.15%
12. Detroit 37-45 0.70% 0.83% 1.01%
13. Denver 40-42 0.60% 0.71% 0.87%
14. Miami 41-41 0.50% 0.59% 0.72%

*The Lakers pick is protected 1-3, otherwise it will convey to the Philadelphia 76ers

**The Kings pick is protected 1-10 otherwise it will convey to the Bulls, if the pick does not convey to the Bulls, the 76ers have the right to swap their pick with the Kings.

***The Pelicans pick is protected 1-3, otherwise it will convey to the Kings.

Why the Nuggets should win

To put it plainly, the draft gods owe us. The Nuggets have been participants in the NBA lottery a whopping 14 times. Out of those 14 trips, the number of times they’ve improved their position in the draft is precisely zero. They have however left the lottery with a worse position in the draft 8 of those 14 times. To say that they are due is an understatement. The Nuggets are also one of just seven teams to never make and NBA finals, with the Los Angeles Clippers as the only team of those seven who have been in the NBA longer than the Nuggets (and none of the others are even close). If ever there was a team that deserved its moment in the spotlight at the lottery it’s the Nuggets, if ever there was a team that deserves to get a star like Markelle Fultz to help put them over the top, it’s the of course it won’t happen and there’s a good chance the Miami Heat leapfrog the Nuggets to worsen their draft position...again.

Why the Nuggets won’t win

Math. There are fourteen ping pong balls that go into the 1970s looking bingo machine and an NBA representative, possibly affiliated with the Illuminati, will draw out four ping pong balls to create a four number combination. Our resident statisticians can tell you that means there is a total of 1,001 possible four number combinations that can be drawn. One of those is thrown out and the other 1000 are divided up among the teams based on where they finished in the regular season. As the Nuggets have the second best record of all the teams in the NBA lottery they have the second fewest four number combinations, in fact they have a total of six to be exact. I don’t know about you, but if I’m in Vegas and my odds are 6 in 1000...I usually just head to Cirque du Soleil.

Who will be there?

The Nuggets are switching it up this season. For the past three seasons the representative for Denver has been their head coach and the year prior to that it was Josh Kroenke (before that the Nuggets had not been lottery participants since 2003). This year however they are going with a player and sending shooting guard Gary Harris. I always like to joke that when a team sends a player, they are basically saying they’ve got no shot. In general that holds true again this year, except for the Phoenix Suns who are sending their bright, young, if not somewhat annoying, star in Devin Booker and the Sixers who are sending Joel “The Process” Embiid, showing that the humor in irony is not lost on those making decisions in Philadelphia. This year’s crop of representatives is missing the heartstrings pull that we’ve seen in the past from the Washington Wizards and Cleveland Cavaliers, but my personal favorite is Alonzo Mourning with the Heat. The Heat have the worst odds in the lottery and Mourning is their VP of player programs and development. It’s almost as if they all sat around the table begrudgingly trying to figure out who to send and someone said “Hey, all the players on vacation, you’ve got nothing to do Zo, you go.”

Lottery Representatives

Team Representative
Team Representative
Boston Celtics Wyc Grousbeck
Phoenix Suns Devin Booker
Los Angeles Lakers Magic Johnson
Philadelphia 76ers Joel Embiid
Orlando Magic Frank Vogel
Minnesota Timberwolves Andrew Wiggins
New York Knicks Walt Frazier
Sacramento Kings Dave Joerger
Dallas Mavericks Michael Finley
New Orleans Pelicans Alvin Gentry
Charlotte Hornets Rich Cho
Detroit Pistons Jeff Bower
Denver Nuggets Gary Harris
Miami Heat Alonzo Mourning