Learning a little about lotto history

I’m a big history guy. No, not that kind of history. Sports history. And for some reason, I always convince myself that in sports, history repeats. Trends and patterns can sometimes show us the future. So with the lottery this Tuesday, I figured I should educate myself on some recent lotto history. Especially the history of where the team with the fourth worst record has ended up in the lottery over the last 15 years (the current lottery format was installed in 1994).

Teams with an 11.9 percent chance (or fourth best) have never technically gotten the No. 1 pick. Well, eff. The one time it happened was in 1994, but three teams were tied with a 20-62 record and the Bucks got it. The fourth best chance in that draft was the Bullets Wizards and they wound up fifth. The fourth best chance has landed the No. 2 pick two times in the last 15 drafts. Actually, the pick the fourth slot landed the most was the fifth pick (six times).

2008 – Memphis Grizzlies (3)
2007 – Atlanta Hawks (3)
2006 – Atlanta Hawks (5)
2005 – Utah Jazz (6)
2004 – Clippers and Hawks tied (Clips got third pick)
2003 – Miami Heat (5)
2002 – Denver Nuggets (5)
2001 – Vancouver Grizzlies (6)
2000 – Vancouver Grizzlies (2)
1999 – Toronto Raptors (5)
1998 – Vancouver Grizzlies (2)
1997 – Denver Nuggets (5)
1996 – Milwaukee Bucks (4)
1995 – Philadelphia 76ers (3)
1994 – Washington Wizards (5)

Ok, so that’s not great news. But there’s a first time for everything, right? Especially when you start looking at the past 15 winners and what chances they had. It actually almost seems the less chance you have, the better chance you have.

2008 – Chicago Bulls (1.7 percent chance)
2007 – Portland Trail Blazers (5.3 percent chance)
2006 – Toronto Raptors – (8.8 percent chance)
2005 – Milwaukee Bucks – (6.5 percent chance)
2004 – Orlando Magic – (25 percent chance)
2003 – Cleveland Cavaliers – (22.5 percent chance)
2002 – Houston Rockets – (8.9 percent chance)
2001 – Washington Wizards – (15.7 percent chance)
2000 – New Jersey Nets – (4.4 percent chance)
1999 – Chicago Bulls – (15.7 percent chance)
1998 – Los Angeles Clippers – (22.5  percent chance)
1997 – San Antonio Spurs – (21.6 percent chance)
1996 – Philadelphia 76ers – (33.75 percent chance – had two lottery picks)
1995 – Golden State Warriors – (9.4 percent chance)
1994 – Milwaukee Bucks – (16.3 percent chance)

Looking up and down that, the team with the best chance has is only 2 for 15. In fact, the third slot has won the lottery the most times with five. Really, it’s anybody’s game. We shouldn’t even rule out Phoenix or New Jersey or Toronto winning this thing. Because it can absolutely happen. The lowest OKC can fall is the seven spot, but the fourth worst record has never fallen past six.

draft-chart

And just because I looked it up, teams that landed the second slot and their chances. Interesting that very few long shots have ever snuck in to the second slot (the lowest was the Clippers at 2.9 percent in 2001).

2008 – Miami (25 percent chance to win the lottery)
2007 – Seattle (8.8 percent chance)
2006 – New York (19.9 percent chance)
2005 – Atlanta (25 percent chance)
2004 – Clippers (10.5 percent chance)
2003 – Memphis (6.4 percent chance)
2002 – Chicago (22.5 percent chance)
2001 – Clippers (2.9 percent chance)
2000 – Vancouver (12 percent chance)
1999 – Vancouver (25 percent chance)
1998 – Vancouver (15.09 percent chance)
1997 – Philly (12.24 percent chance)
1996 – Toronto (15.7 percent chance)
1995 – Clippers (25 percent chance)
1994 – Dallas (25 percent chance)

So technically no team with an 11.9 percent chance (or somewhere around there) has ever won the lottery. That can either depress you to the point of sleeping in a pizza oven tonight, or it could excite you because it’s bound to happen. The reality is, we have no idea what will happen. We really don’t and it’s stupid to even guess. All I know is that I’m excited about Tuesday so that I don’t have to keep thinking about this crap. And how about this – from now on we make the playoffs so we never have to worry about it again. Everybody good with that?

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