- The Sacramento Kings are expected to struggle, and that could be good news for the Boston Celtics or the Philadelphia 76ers.
- The Sixers get the Kings' 2019 pick, and will swap one pick with the Celtics once the lottery positions are known.
- The Celtics get to take the higher of the 76ers' 2019 picks (their own or the one from the Kings) up to the No. 2 spot.
The Sacramento Kings almost certainly won’t be good this upcoming NBA season: They finished with just 27 wins last season, and their 25.5 win total at Westgate is currently the second-lowest mark in the league.
They added another big man in the 2018 Draft in Duke’s Marvin Bagley, who struggled in Summer League and doesn’t seem to be an immediate fit for the modern NBA. Their 2017 first-round pick, De’Aaron Fox, ranked 503rd out of 521 qualified players in ESPN’s Real Plus-Minus metric last season.
It could be another ugly season out West.
And, unfortunately, the news gets worse for Kings fans: The franchise doesn’t even own its first-round pick in the 2019 draft.
This sets up one of the most underrated and crazy storylines in the NBA’s next season.
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The Boston Celtics and Philadelphia 76ers, the league’s two emergent young squads, are competing for the pick, and the stakes are HIGH.
In a nutshell, the pick goes to Philly, although the Celtics get the more-favorable pick between the two. That means if the Kings wind up with the fifth pick, the Celtics will get the fifth pick, while the 76ers likely draft in the mid-to-late 20s.
That is — unless the Kings get the No. 1 overall pick. The pick swap between Philly and Boston is protected for the top pick in the 2019 draft, which means on lottery night, Boston will get the pick if it’s No. 2 but likely fall to the mid-to-late 20s if it’s No. 1.
Based on the Westgate’s win totals, here’s how the picks would shake out if the Kings land at No. 1 …
1st pick: 76ers
25th pick: Celtics
29th pick: Celtics
… versus if it falls at No. 2 or lower:
2nd pick: Celtics
25th pick: 76ers
29th pick: Celtics
Talk about high stakes, especially for two squads that look like they could be the league’s next dynasties once the Warriors’ rule ends. It could mean a guy like R.J. Barrett, Zion Williamson, or Nassir Little — potential young stars — going to an already-built title contender, or that team getting a late first-rounder who is more likely to be a role player.
Before Celtics fans hyperventilate, this is the first year with reformed lottery odds. The worst team in the league last year had a 25% chance of getting the No. 1 overall pick; in 2019 it will be just 14.0%.
NBA Lottery Reform: Old vs. New Odds to Land No. 1 Pick
The odds are still in the Celtics’ favor of landing a high 2019 draft pick — 86% if you believe the Kings will finish with a bottom-three record — but it’s certainly not set in stone.
Will we look back during the 2025 Eastern Conference finals and note how the 2018-19 Kings season and the 2019 lottery night shaped the trajectory of the league? It’s certainly possible.