Where Will Ben Land? 2016 NBA Draft Lottery Guide

It’s not every year that the headline player in an NBA draft class becomes news in Australia, but then it’s not every year that an Australian player is the favourite to be drafted number one overall.

Ben Simmons, who played just one year at LSU, is likely to hear his name called first by commissioner Adam Silver on draft night next month. But which team will be lucky enough to make that pick? We’ll find out Wednesday, Australian time.

The NBA’s 32nd annual draft lottery is one giant karmic spectacle. Franchises who are rebuilding, others who have made fortuitous trades and some who just get lucky can have their fortunes turned around in an instant—although it’s not always for the better.

This year’s draft class has some headline talent in Simmons and Duke forward Brandon Ingram, but while all eyes in Australia will be on where Simmons lands, the biggest headlines here will be whether the fortunes of three of the most storied franchises in NBA history go according to plan.

The Sixers’ process is no secret and while Sam Hinkie may be gone, his legacy lives on. Just how that legacy is viewed may depend on whether the lottery balls fall the right way Wednesday as the Sixers have the highest odds of landing the number one pick.

The Lakers, who farewelled a hall of famer last month in Kobe Bryant, are hoping to bring in another future hall of famer at the draft, but may not even have a pick. If the lottery gods conspire against them and the Lakers move out of the top three, their pick will be conveyed to the Sixers and Jim Buss may shortly be looking for a new job.

And then there are the Celtics, fresh off their playoff run, who own the Brooklyn Nets’ first-round pick. That pick has the third-best odds of becoming the number one pick and if the luck of the Irish is on their side Wednesday, then Danny Ainge will be vaulted into Celtics lore for orchestrating the trade that could accelerate their ascent into contention.

So Wednesday morning’s lottery drawing has real consequences for those teams.

The lottery will be held at Barclays Center in Brooklyn and as always, each lottery team will be represented at the drawing.  Those on hand this year include current players like Devin Booker and All-Stars Isaiah Thomas and Jimmy Butler, team presidents such as Utah’s Steve Starks, GMs such as the Lakers’ Mitch Kupchak and Orlando’s Rob Hennigan, plus head coaches in Brett Brown and Jason Kidd.

Here’s hoping Brown has better success than former Lakers coach Byron Scott, who represented the purple and gold last year when they moved up to snag the number two pick, only to be relieved of his duties less than a year later.

Below are this year’s lottery odds (tiebreakers were broken on April 15):

The odds look great for Philadelphia, especially given they could land the Lakers’ pick, but the lottery gods can be cruel, as they’ve found out in recent years.

Despite the Timberwolves holding onto the number one pick last year, that was just the fourth time that the team with the greatest odds has walked away with the first pick since the weighted lottery system was introduced and just the second time in the past 12 years. The Knicks, who actually had their own pick last year, mercifully fell to fourth after having the second-best odds, but don’t feel too sorry for them because the Zinger turned out to be great and it didn’t take him long to win over New York City.

As a reminder of how the lottery system works, not all 14 lottery picks are actually drawn on the night. Only the top three selections are drawn using four-ball combinations, not that we see any of this as it happens backstage. The rest of the order just falls into place based on their records or draft odds (following tiebreakers) thereafter.

So if Philadelphia (who has the best odds this year with a 25 percent chance of landing number one) somehow misses out on one of the top three picks, the furthest they can fall is fourth place.

Now this is where it gets interesting, as who ends up in that top three can have a ripple effect for some other teams based on past trades.

Firstly, the aforementioned Lakers. They have the second-best lottery odds, so if by a stroke of bad luck, two teams with worse odds move up into those top three spots, the Lakers would fall to fourth and have to convey that pick to the Sixers. Mitch Kupchak might just get up and walk out at that point, as it would be a significant setback for the post-Kobe Lakers.

The Nuggets (ninth-best odds) have the right to swap picks with the Knicks (seventh-best odds) and grab the higher of the two, while whichever pick the Knicks are left with will actually not be theirs at all—it will go to Toronto.

If the Kings (eighth-best odds) move into the top three, their joy will be short-lived unless the Sixers are picking ahead of them, otherwise the Sixers have the right to swap picks with them and move back up (Hinkie 1, Divac 0). If three teams with lower odds than the Kings (i.e. DEN, MIL, ORL, UTA, WAS, CHI) somehow move up, pushing the Kings down to eleventh, they’ll lose that pick altogether and Jimmy Butler’s Bulls will walk away with an extra gift.

Finally, the Wizards’ pick (13th-best odds) has been dealt to the Suns unless they move into the top three, as it’s only top-nine protected.

Brett Brown could be a very happy man by the end of the drawing if things go wrong for the Lakers and Kings, while somewhere Hinkie will sit and smile.

So, you can see how Wednesday’s lottery is not just some fun for 30 minutes. It could have huge implications for a number of teams.

It will also likely determine where our own Ben Simmons will start his career and which team’s jersey will become the highest seller Down Under.

Will it be the Sixers, the Lakers or a surprise team? Let’s just hope Ben is happy when the time comes…you know, like Joel Embiid was…


Follow me on Twitter @tomhersz

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Author of the article

When you’re introduced to the NBA as a 6 year old in 1984, staying up late to watch Bird, Magic and Dr. J, it’s pretty hard not to fall in love with the game. I became consumed with the Association, and as my own game was developing, I tried to emulate as much as I could at an early age and learn how to play “the right way”. I have memories as a teenager of being glued to Saturday Basketball on TV and spending every spare cent I had on basketball cards and replica jerseys and so began my obsession with NBA knowledge and stats. I played my first season of Fantasy Hoops in 2002, as my serious playing days were slowing down. I now play in 5 or 6 leagues every year. To say I’m obsessed with Fantasy Hoops would be an understatement. To say I love nothing more than sharing my opinion on a player’s value would be entirely accurate, and I guess, the reason why I’m here. Follow me on twitter: @tomhersz @downtownball

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