Turns Out Lakers Lottery Odds Not Greatly Affected by Winning Out


There was uproar on Monday Night from the Lakers fan base after the Lakers 119-104 victory over the Utah Jazz which almost assured that the Lakers would remain in the 6th spot in the NBA Draft Lottery. Going into Monday’s night’s game the Lakers were guaranteed at least a tie for the 4th spot in the lottery if they were to lose their final 2 games of the season, which we now know they did not.

What might reduce some of the anger that many fans are feeling after the Lakers won out to close out the season and blew their chance at the receiving the higher draft lottery odds is that where they currently stand isn’t significantly different than where they would’ve ended up had they lost their final 2 games.

The Utah Jazz won a double overtime game in their season finale against the Minnesota Timberwolves, 136-130. That win placed them in a two team tie for that 4th position in the lottery with the Boston Celtics.  The position that the Jazz are in now is the exact position that the Lakers would have been in had they lost their last two games, tied for 4th with the Celtics.

The Jazz and Celtics now share ping pong balls and as close as possible to an equal percentage chance at one of the top 3 picks. Depending on the result of a coin flip which will give the winner the slightly higher odds, they’ll have a 33.4 or 33.7 chance of winning one of the top 3 picks and either a  10.3 or 10.4 percent chance of winning the top pick.

The Lakers are in the 6th spot in the lottery and their odds for nabbing one of the top 3 picks is 21.5 percent and 6.3 percent to win the number 1 pick.

If a team held the 4th spot in the lottery by itself the odds would have increased slightly to 37.8 percent for one of the top 3 picks and 11.9 percent to win the top 1st pick.

Would the Lakers have been in a better position had they lost the last 2 games? Sure, but the difference in winning a top 3 or number 1 pick is nominal: the difference is roughly, 12.2 and 4.1 percent respectively. If we look over the years we’ll see how teams with lower odds routinely get into the top 3.

Just last year, the Washington Wizards nabbed the 3rd pick with the 8th best odds.

In 2011, two teams with low odds got into the top 3; the Cavaliers won the number 1 pick despite having the 8th best odds and the Jazz received the 3rd pick with the 6th best odds, same as the Lakers this year.

The 5th slotted Wizards and 6th slotted Sixers both defied the odds by winning spots in the top 3 back in 2010, with the 1st and 3rd pick respectively.

Again in 2009, the Memphis Grizzlies won the 2nd pick with the 6th best odds in the lottery.

We can go on and on with examples of teams with the same odds as or in close proximity to that of the Lakers in this coming lottery and winning one of those top 3 spots. . With that I hope it calms the anger, nerves and frustration that many of the Lakers fans have felt in these last 3 days. The NBA Draft Lottery is set to take place on May 20th during halftime of one of the playoff games scheduled for that day. At that point it is all up to chance and the Lakers are in a pretty good position both from a probability and historical standpoint.

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