The Philadelphia 76ers are currently 26-45 with eleven games remaining in the season. With such a small portion of the year left, and nothing really to play for, the fans have diverted their attention to watch the standings. The Sixers aren’t concerned with getting home court advantage during the first round, or even capturing a playoff spot. They, like the past three seasons, are watching the standings trying to attain the best possible draft pick.
Right now the Sixers currently have the fifth worst record behind the Orlando Magic, Phoenix Suns, Los Angeles Lakers and Brooklyn Nets. Of those teams, realistically Philadelphia can only hope to overtake Orlando because they’re only a half game back currently. The Suns currently have a four game advantage over the Sixers. So, the Suns would need to win four more games than Philly in both team’s last eleven games, which seems unlikely.
Arguably, the Suns and Lakers contest for the second worst record could be more important. They are separated by two games currently. Since the Lakers’ pick conveys to Philadelphia if it’s outside the top three, there’s a lot riding on where they finish in the standings. Should LA finish with the second worst record, there’s a 44.2% chance of them having to give up their pick to Philadelphia. But, if the Lakers finish third, the likelihood of the Sixers getting their pick increases to 53.1%. Should LA finish with the third worst record, it would only require one team to hop into the top three to bump them out, whereas if they’re second worst, it would necessitate two teams jumping above them during the lottery.
Philadelphia is also keenly aware of how the Sacramento Kings finish out their schedule. Since trading away their ill-tempered superstar DeMarcus Cousins, the team has gone 3-11. The trade has made them one of the worst teams in the league, which is great news for the 76ers. Should the Kings wind up with a better pick, it automatically conveys to Philadelphia dating back to an old trade made in the summer of 2015. The Kings currently have the sixth worst record, with only one game separating them and the Sixers in the standings.
While having the draft swap with the Kings is nice, it is really a hit or miss asset. The pick didn’t convey last year and it’s only in effect for the 2016 and 2017 NBA drafts. Therefore, if the Sixers wind up with a higher pick, the draft swap is essentially voided. The rights to swap basically just increases Philadelphia’s chances of acquiring the first overall pick, or a top three pick. If the season ended today, combining Sacramento’s chances with Philly’s, the Sixers have a 15.1% chance of landing the top pick, 16.8% chance of getting the second pick, 18.8% of attaining the third overall pick, or a 50.7% chance of getting a top three pick. If Philadelphia and Sacramento switch places in the standings nothing changes in the odds.
In an ideal world though, both the Kings and Sixers would wind up lower in the standings than the Orlando Magic. This isn’t so farfetched considering the Magic have two games left against the Brooklyn Nets and two against Detroit, which are winnable games. If the Kings and Sixers ended up with the fourth and fifth worst records in the league, Philadelphia’s chance of landing a top three pick rises all the way to 67% and the likelihood of them getting the top pick increases to 20.7%.
Obviously the most beneficial outcome would be for the Sixers to wind up with the first and fourth overall picks. While it sounds farfetched, it isn’t unheard of though. In fact, the Cleveland Cavaliers were in a very similar position a mere six years ago.
On February 24, 2011, the Cavs acquired the Los Angeles Clippers’ first round pick unprotected and Baron Davis in exchange for Mo Williams and Jamario Moon. Neither team wound up making the playoffs, while the Cavs finished with the second worst record and the Clippers, the eighth.
Cleveland ended up having a 19.9% for their own pick to be the top pick in the draft, and a 2.8% chance of Los Angeles’ pick being number one. And the Clippers won the lottery but it conveyed to the Cavs. That draft, the Cleveland Cavaliers selected Kyrie Irving with the first overall pick, and Tristan Thompson fourth overall. Both of them were crucial in the Cavs winning their first championship in over half a century.
LET’S HOPE HISTORY REPEATS ITSELF. IF IT DOES, HINKIE’S GOD-LIKE POWERS WILL FINALLY BE ACKNOWLEDGED!
Mandatory Credit: John Geliebter-USA TODAY Sports