Monday, May 17, 2010

NBA Lottery History

So I wrote up this article for a Timberwolves forum two years back about how bad the Timberwolves luck has been in the lottery. I had used the DraftExpress Lottery History page to formulate all the odds for the #1 and #2 picks (the #2 pick odds had to be estimated for 1990-1993), and then went on to describe how unlucky the Timberwolves were.

Well today, I decided to do more than that. I have gone through and used that DX page to get the odds on every team for each season from 1990 to 2009 (check the starred rows on the sheets marked #1 and #2 for the %s), and then went through to describe how lucky or unlucky some of the teams have been. The results are after the jump.

There have been 14 different teams who have landed the #1 pick in the draft in the past 20 years. Four of those teams have been lucky enough to win the #1 pick two times (the Bulls, Clippers, Bucks, and Nets), while the Orlando Magic have been lucky enough to win it three times. Out of the remaining teams, the most unlucky as far as winning the lottery is concerned, are my beloved Minnesota Timberwolves - with a 77.5% chance that they should have won the lottery by now if all of this were to be done again. The Denver Nuggets were a close second at 75.5%, and the Memphis/Vancouver Grizzlies third at 72.6%.

Since there are quite a few drafts which were considered two player drafts, I did this again for the odds to get the 1st and 2nd picks. Ten teams have been unlucky enough to not land a top-2 pick in the past 20 years. One of those teams, the Lakers, hardly count in this type of measurement as they have been wildly successful and have had very low odds to claim a top pick the two times they have been in the lottery. The most unlucky of those teams? Again, the Minnesota Timberwolves at 96.1% chance that they should have been in the top-two by now. Next up are the Denver Nuggets at 93.2% and then the Sacramento Kings a noticeably distance back at 86.0%.

Moral of the story? The woeful Timberwolves are certainly due for some luck.

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