Only four teams remain in contention to reach the NBA Finals, but Tuesday marks the most important day of the postseason for every team that missed the playoffs. Before Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals between the Golden State Warriors and Houston Rockets begins, the 2015 NBA Draft Lottery will determine the order of June’s draft.
Not only do the Minnesota Timberwolves have the No.1 draft picks from each of the last two years on their current roster, but they have the best odds to get the top pick this year. After finishing the regular season with an NBA-worst 16-66 record, Minnesota has a 25 percent chance of getting the first pick. The New York Knicks and Philadelphia 76ers have the next best odds to get the No.1 pick, with a 19.9 percent and 15.6 percent chance, respectively.
The Timberwolves have the best chance to get the top pick, and they can’t end the night with anything worse than the No.4 pick. Only the Indiana Pacers, Utah Jazz, Phoenix Suns and Oklahoma City Thunder have a chance to end the night with the 14th and last pick in the lottery. All of those teams have less than a one percent chance of getting the No.1 pick.
It wouldn’t be much of a surprise if the No.1 pick ended up going to a team with poor odds. The Cleveland Cavaliers had the ninth-best odds last year when they won the lottery and took eventual NBA Rookie of the Year Andrew Wiggins at the top of the draft. Four teams in history have won the lottery with less than a three percent chance of doing so.
The Knicks won the first ever lottery in 1985, winning the right to draft Patrick Ewing. Ten of the 14 teams have never won the lottery in franchise history, including the Timberwolves, Los Angeles Lakers and Detroit Pistons. The first version of the Charlotte Hornets won the lottery in 1991, but they eventually relocated to New Orleans, becoming the now-Pelicans.
An interesting factor of the draft is where the Lakers will select. Should L.A. receive a pick in the top five, they will retain it. If the pick falls outside of the top five it will go to the 76ers, who received it from the Suns in a trade. The Lakers dealt the top-five protected pick to the Suns in a trade that sent Steve Nash to L.A.
The event appears to be a lottery for the right to draft Karl-Anthony Towns. The Kentucky freshman is the likely No.1 pick, while Duke’s Jahlil Okafor could go second overall. Other top picks include Emmanuel Mudiay, D'Angelo Russell, Justise Winslow and Stanley Johnson.
Coverage begins on ESPN at 8:30 p.m. ET, but the draft order won’t be revealed right at the start. The event ends at 9 p.m. ET when Golden State vs. Houston is set to get underway. Viewers can watch a free live stream online with WatchESPN.
2015 NBA Draft Lottery Probabilities [nba.com]
Minnesota Timberwolves: 1st (25%) 2nd (21.51%) 3rd (17.77%)
New York Knicks: 1st (19.9%) 2nd (18.81%) 3rd (17.12%)
Philadelphia 76ers: 1st (15.6%) 2nd (15.74%) 3rd (15.59%)
Los Angeles Lakers: 1st (11.9%) 2nd (12.6%) 3rd (13.3%)
Orlando Magic: 1st (8.8%) 2nd (9.66%) 3rd (10.68%)
Sacramento Kings: 1st (6.3%) 2nd (7.1%) 3rd (8.12%)
Denver Nuggets: 1st (4.3%) 2nd (4.94%) 3rd (5.79%)
Detroit Pistons: 1st (2.8%) 2nd (3.26%) 3rd (3.89%)
Charlotte Hornets: 1st (1.7%) 2nd (2%) 3rd (2.41%)
Miami Heat: 1st (1.1%) 2nd (1.3%) 3rd (1.58%)
Indiana Pacers: 1st (0.8%) 2nd (0.95%) 3rd (1.15%)
Utah Jazz: 1st (0.7%) 2nd (0.83%) 3rd (1.01%)
Phoenix Suns: 1st (0.6%) 2nd (0.71%) 3rd (0.87%)
Oklahoma City Thunder: 1st (0.5%) 2nd (0.59%) 3rd (0.73%)