The 2013-2014 NBA regular season is less than a week away from its conclusion. With the playoffs set to begin on April 19, the order of the draft lottery is almost in place.
The Los Angeles Lakers hold the sixth-worst record in all of basketball, with four games left to play. They trail the Sacramento Kings by 1.5 games for the No.7 spot, and have a one game lead over the Utah Jazz for the No.5 seed in the lottery.
Looking at L.A.’s schedule, it isn’t likely that they will hurt their chances of getting the top pick in the draft. They are set to play the San Antonio Spurs and Golden State Warriors, both of whom are in the playoffs. Los Angeles also has the Memphis Grizzlies on the schedule, who are 14 games over .500.
L.A.’s easiest remaining game could go a long way in determining their spot in the lottery. On Monday, the Lakers will visit Utah. A loss for Los Angeles could bump them up to the No.5 seed. The Jazz are 2-1 against the Lakers, and defeated them by 17 points on Feb. 11, their most recent meeting.
As they currently stand, the Lakers have a 6.3 percent chance of landing the top spot. Moving up one slot in the lottery would change that to 8.88 percent, while improving to the seventh-worst record would put their odds at 4.3 percent.
The Milwaukee Bucks have all but ensured that they will have the best shot of winning the lottery. With four games left, three games separate them and the Philadelphia 76ers, who have the second-worst record in the NBA. Milwaukee sits at 14-64 and holds a 25 percent chance of winning the No.1 pick.
Recent history has not been kind to teams that finish the season with the NBA’s worst record. The last team to finish at the bottom of the overall standings and win the No.1 selection was the Orlando Magic in 2004. Since then, the teams with the worst and second-worst records have failed to land the top pick. Since 2005, four teams with the No.6 through No.9 seeds have won the lottery.
Andrew Wiggins appears to be the most likely player to be drafted No.1. His Kansas teammate, Joel Embiid, as well as Duke freshman Jabari Parker, also have a shot to go at the top of the draft.
The last time the Lakers were in the draft lottery was in 2005, the season following the departure of Shaquille O'Neal through a trade with the Miami Heat. Los Angeles received the 10th overall pick and used it to select center Andrew Bynum.
The Lakers also had the 10th overall selection in the 1994 NBA Draft, and used it to take shooting guard Eddie Jones. Both Bynum and Jones are former NBA All-Stars.