2019 NBA Draft Lottery Odds: What’s at Stake for Each Team, Pick Protections, More
Photo credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Zion Williamson
- The NBA Draft Lottery will begin on Tuesday night at 8:30 p.m. ET on ESPN.
- We've got full odds for each team landing in the top 4 and the No. 1 overall pick, plus details on pick protections.
- The ways the Ping-Pong balls bounce could drastically shape the future of the NBA, and four teams in particular have a wide range of outcomes.
Only four teams are left in the running for this year’s NBA Championship, but 15 more fanbases will have their hopes up on Tuesday night with the draft lottery set for 8:30 p.m. ET.
The league changed the lottery format so more teams have a realistic shot at landing the No. 1 pick (in part as a way to discourage blatant tanking).
While Zion Williamson is the ultimate prize, he’s not the only thing that’s at stake. The ways the Ping-Pong balls bounce will have a bigger effect on some franchises than others.
Let’s break down which teams have the most to gain during the lottery.
2019 NBA Lottery Odds
The Celtics have the potential to be huge winners tonight. They flamed out of the playoffs in alarming fashion and have some major questions to deal with this offseason. That said, grabbing two lottery picks in the upcoming draft will certainly help ease the pain.
They’re almost guaranteed to land the Kings’ pick. The only scenario where they wouldn’t get it is if they land the first overall pick, but the Kings have just a 1% chance of jumping all the way to the top. That’s the worst of any team in the lottery.
Odds are that the Celtics will land the No. 14 pick from the Kings — they have a 95.2% chance of that happening — which obviously isn’t something to get to super excited about. That said, they do have a 3.8% chance of grabbing a pick in the 2-4 range, which would help ease the pain if one of their stars walks in free agency.
They also have a chance of landing the Grizzlies pick, although that has a wider range of outcomes. The Grizzlies currently have a 26.2% chance of landing a top four pick, in which case they would keep their pick. They also keep the pick if they land the No. 8 pick, and there’s a 31.2% chance of that happening. In either of those scenarios, the Celtics will have to try again in 2020, when the pick is protected for only the top six selections.
That leaves a 42.6% chance that the pick conveys this season. They’ll likely land the No. 9 pick in that situation — there’s a 34.1% chance of that happening — but they could also land a pick in the 10-12 range.
Overall, the best-case scenario for the Celtics is landing the No. 2 and No. 9 picks, while the worst case leaves them with just the No. 14 pick. Given their uncertainty heading into the offseason, the Ping-Pong balls could play a huge role in the Celtics’ future.
The 76ers are in a boom-or-bust spot. They land the Kings’ pick if they jump all the way to No. 1, which would obviously give them the opportunity to draft Zion.
While it’s an extremely unlikely scenario, the 76ers’ landing Zion has the potential to shake up the entire NBA power structure. It would give them a fifth All-Star caliber player if they choose to bring back Jimmy Butler and Tobias Harris while increasing their ceiling exponentially.
The rest of the East is in flux — will the Celtics resign Kyrie? Is Kawhi Leonard coming back to Toronto? Is Kevin Durant really going to the Knicks? — so there’s a scenario where the 76ers with Zion become the top team in the conference.
Some of us at The Action Network are irrationally excited about the Hawks future, and this draft will have a big say in that.
Let’s start with their pick. They secured the fifth-worst record in the league, which gives them a solid chance of moving up via the lottery. Here are their odds of landing a top five pick vs. falling to sixth or later:
- 1: 10.5%
- 2: 10.5%
- 3: 10.5%
- 4: 10.5%
- 5: 2.2%
- 6 or worse: 55.8%
Basically, the least likely scenario is them actually getting to pick fifth despite finishing with the fifth-worst record. The worst case scenario for their own pick is having to choose ninth, while the best case scenario is adding Zion to a core that already includes Trae Young, John Collins, and Kevin Huerter. That could make them a playoff team as early as next season.
They also have a chance of getting the Mavericks pick due to the Luka Doncic trade. They have a 73.8% chance of grabbing that pick this season, and if that happens, they will almost certainly pick ninth or 10th. Trading away Doncic still doesn’t look great, but grabbing a top 10 pick in addition to Young certainly closes the gap a little.
The Mavs couldn’t have planned their protections on their draft pick any better. This is a top-heavy draft, and the only way the Mavs keep their pick is if they land in the top four. They have a 26.2% chance of that happening, including a 19.0% chance of landing in the top three.
While a lot can change between now and the draft, a top three pick would guarantee them a chance at Zion, Ja Morant, or R.J. Barrett. It feels like there’s a clear drop-off after that, so the Mavs would likely be happy to ship their pick off to the Hawks if they don’t move up.
Adding one of the top three prospects gives the Mavs a really exciting young core to build around. There are still some question marks regarding Kristaps Porzingis, who has threatened to become the first player in history to turn down a max contract in order to become a restricted free agent, but Doncic, Porzingis, and a top three pick gives them the potential to rule the West after the Warriors’ dynasty comes to an end.