A Viewer's Guide to the Draft Lottery

Is there a better time to be a Bucks fan than in mid-May? OK, so that might be an exaggeration, but think about it for a moment. The hiring of new GM John Hammond was the starting point for a front office overhaul that also led to the hiring of Scott Skiles as coach. Considering where the Bucks were at the beginning of April, those two moves alone are major reasons for optimism.

And with the lottery less than 24 hours away, we still have a bit of time to harbor faint hopes of seeing Derrick Rose or Michael Beasley in Bucks' green next year. Plus, considering the real Bucks haven't played in over a month, the unfortunate memory of actually watching the 06/07 Bucks has receded a bit.  I can vaguely remember Ramon Sessions racking up ungodly amounts of assists last month, but other than that...nope, I'm repressing it all.

So like most years, it's on to the lottery, which will take place prior to tonight's Pistons/Celtics game, between 7:00 and 7:30 central time on ESPN.  John Hammond will be repping the Bucks on stage, while newly minted director of basketball ops Jon Horst will be backstage keeping an eye on the official lottery process. Ridiculous Upside has more on the specifics of the lottery , while we've got your Bucks viewing guide taken care of:

  • Hope for the best...and expect the seventh.  Because the Bucks are seeded seventh and only the top three picks are chosen via lottery, the Bucks have seven possible outcomes tonight: 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 7th, 8th, 9th or 10th.  With 43 lottery combinations out of 1000 possible scenarios, the Bucks only have a 4.3% chance of getting the first overall pick, but the odds of moving somewhere into the top three are about 15%--not favorable, but not inconceivable.  Per some number-crunching over at RealGM, the Bucks have about a 60% chance of staying in the seven slot, and a 25% chance of sliding into a lower spot.  
  • It really is a lottery. Check out some historical context for lottery odds and you'll see that there are no guarantees--as Grizzlies, Celtics and Bucks fans found out last year.  Interestingly, the last three lottery winners have all been relative longshots: the Blazers (fifth) had only a 5.3% chance of winning last year, the Raptors (fifth) only an 8.8% chance in 2006 and the Bucks (sixth) only a 6.3% chance in 2005. The biggest losers were however rewarded the previous two seasons when the Cavs (2003) and Magic (2004) struck it rich with LeBron James and Dwight Howard. Not bad. However, those were also the only two instances in which the worst team got the first overall pick since the more loser-friendly lottery system was introduced in 1994 (On a sidenote: the Grizzlies were ineligible to win in 1996 because of expansion rules, but the second-worst Sixers did).
  • Watch for teams that don't show up where expected.  Last year I remember seeing video of Celtics fans in a bar nervously watching as the fifth envelope was opened, then reacting in horror when their team's logo was revealed. But logically, anyone who was paying attention would have known the Celtics were about to get some bad news.  That's because as soon as the Bucks showed up in the sixth spot--the worst possible scenario for the third-seeded team--we knew that three teams had moved from behind the Bucks into the lottery.  And if that was the case, then the Grizzlies (seeded first) and Celtics (second) were also going to be bumped back three spots.  Because the Hawks, Sonics and Blazers were seeded four, five, and six respectively, we knew those three teams would be in the top three as soon as the Bucks rather than the Blazers showed up at the sixth spot.

    With the Bucks in the seventh slot this year, the odds of being leapfrogged are much lower since the teams in the eight through fourteen slots are all major longshots to jump into the lottery. Still, there's about a 25% chance the Bucks drop at least one slot, which means that as you're watching you should compare the teams revealed with the expected slots. If a team behind the Bucks isn't revealed as expected, then you know they've jumped into the lottery and the Bucks will move down a pick--unless the Bucks have similarly jumped into the top three. I thought the broadcast last year did an especially poor job of letting viewers know who was "supposed" to appear in each position, but if you keep a cheat sheet you'll be better prepared. Check out this handy table from CollegeHoops.net to see who's supposed to show up where.

TEAM

SLOT

COMBOS

1st

2nd

3rd

Miami

1

250

25.00%

21.47%

17.72%

Seattle

2

199

19.90%

18.78%

17.07%

Minnesota

3

138

13.80%

14.24%

14.54%

Memphis

4

137

13.70%

14.16%

14.48%

New York

5

76

7.60%

8.44%

9.47%

L.A. Clippers

6

75

7.50%

8.33%

9.37%

Milwaukee

7

43

4.30%

4.93%

5.77%

Charlotte

8

28

2.80%

3.26%

3.87%

Chicago

9

17

1.70%

2.00%

2.40%

New Jersey

10

11

1.10%

1.30%

1.57%

Indiana

11

8

0.80%

0.95%

1.15%

Sacramento

12

7

0.70%

0.83%

1.01%

Portland

13

6

0.60%

0.71%

0.87%

Golden State

14

5

0.50%

0.59%

0.72%

 

  • No Bango is a good thingIf no teams from the eight through fourteen slots make into the top three, then the Bucks are about 80% likely to be revealed at the seventh spot (conditional probability).  This is where you then hope and pray to see someone else's logo revealed, because if the Bucks aren't in the seven through ten slots, they must be in the top three.  And if that's the case, feel free to spend the time between picks six and four running around pumping your fists, pointing to the sky, or just yelling "Ohhhh and one!"
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