Breaking Down The Odds That The Lakers Keep Their Draft Pick?


This Lakers season cannot end soon enough.  With only 14 games left, it’s only a matter of time before it is known where the Lakers will finish in the standings.  At this point, it seems extremely likely that the Lakers will finish with either the 4th or 5th worst record in the NBA (with a puncher’s chance at finishing 3rd).

But we all know that regardless of the Lakers record, the NBA draft lottery determines where teams actually pick.  And, as we all know, if the Lakers pick ends up outside the top 5 it will go to the 76ers.

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It should be noted that if the Lakers somehow end up with the 1st or 2nd worst record in the NBA,  then they are guaranteed to keep their pick.  But because that is extremely unlikely to happen, here are the statistical odds for the Lakers keeping their pick depending on where they end up in the standings at the end of the season:

3rd worst record = 96%

4th worst record = 82%

5th worst record = 55%

Now that we know the statistical odds, let’s see how these odds have actually played out historically, starting with the 2000 NBA draft all the way through last year’s draft.

2000 Draft:The Warriors, Grizzlies, Hawks finished with the 3rd, 4th and 5th worst records respectively.  After the lottery, the Warriors ended up with the 5th pick, the Grizzlies with the 2nd pick, and the Hawks with the 6th pick.

Please note that from this point forward I will just list the teams that finished 3rd, 4th and 5th in the standings, and where they ended up picking in the draft after the lottery.

2001 Draft: The Wizards, Grizzlies and Hawks picked:      1st, 6th and 3rd.

2002 Draft: The Grizzlies, Nuggets and Rockets picked:    4th, 5th and 1st.

2003 Draft: The Raptors, Heat and Clippers picked:           4th, 5th and 6th.

2004 Draft: The Wizards, Clippers and Hawks picked:       5th, 4th and 6th.

2005 Draft: The Hornets, Jazz and Trailblazers picked:      5th, 6th and 3rd.

2006 Draft: The Hawks, Hornets and Raptors picked:        5th 3rd, and 1st.

2007 Draft: The Bucks, Hawks and Thunder picked:           6th, 3rd and 2nd.

2008 Draft: The Grizzlies, Wolves and Knicks picked:        5th, 3rd and 6th.

2009 Draft: The Clippers, Thunder and Grizzlies picked:   1st, 3rd and 2nd.

2010 Draft: The Kings, Wizards and Warriors picked:         5th 1st, and 6th.

2011 Draft: The Raptors, Wizards and Kings picked:            5th 6th, and 7th.

2012 Draft: The Pelicans, Cavaliers and Kings picked:         1st, 4th and 5th.

2013 Draft: The Cavaliers, Suns and Pelicans picked:          1st, 5th and 6th.

2014 Draft: The Magic, Jazz and Celtics picked:                    4th, 5th and 6th.

So, with the sample size being the 2000-2014 NBA draft lotteries, the team that finished 3rd in the standings ended up picking outside the top 5 just once in 15 tries, i.e. this team stayed in the top 5 of the draft 93.4% of the time.  Its also worth noting that the 3rd place team ended up with the number 1 overall pick 4 times.

Additionally, the team that finished 4th in the standings ended up picking outside the top 5 on 3 occasions, i.e. this team stayed in the top 5 of the draft 80% of the time.  Unfortunately, this team ended up with the 1st overall pick only once.

Lastly, the team that finished with the 5th worst record ended up picking outside the top 5 on a whopping 8 occasions, i.e. this team stayed in the top 5 of the draft 46% of the time.  Interestingly, this team secured the 1st pick in the draft twice over this time period.

In looking at the odds listed above for the Lakers to keep their pick based upon where they finish in the standings, the sample size of the 2000-2014 drafts produced pretty similar statistics.  So the odds have held up pretty well over the past 15 years for what that’s worth.

Bottom line: Lakers fans should be feeling great if they end up with the 3rd worst record, good at the 4th spot, and pretty freakin’ anxious at the 5th spot with respect to keeping their draft pick.

Next: The Better Front Office: Lakers or 76ers?