NBA 2013 Draft Lottery Odds and Projections

2013 NBA Draft
2013 NBA Draft
May 16 2013 Chicago IL USA CJ McCollum is interviewed during the NBA Draft combine at Harrison Street Athletics Facility Jerry Lai USA TODAY Sports

14 ping-pong balls will help decide tonight which NBA team receives the top pick in the 2013 NBA Draft. Along with the league’s 14 teams that missed this year’s playoffs―the crummy teams―the nation will find out who deputy commissioner Adam Silver announces as the lottery’s lucky winner.

Airing on ESPN, at 8:30 p.m. Eastern Time tonight, the lottery will help determine who the league’s worst teams will be picking on draft night, taking place on June 27th. And if they have a chance of getting any better in the foreseeable future.


Of a possible 1,000 four-number combinations, the Orlando Magic have dibs on 250, or 25%, of them. That’s because they notched this season’s worst record (20-62), and so, receive the best mathematical odds of climbing out of dunce territory. Though the odds don’t always work out as expected—only two teams with the best odds have landed the No. 1 pick in 22 years—the Orlando Magic do have the good fortune of being the last team who the odds gods rewarded (or cursed, depending on how you interpret Dwight Howard’s career there).

Below is a chart illustrating the chances of each non-playoff team striking gold*.

Orlando Magic 20-62 25.0%
Charlotte Bobcats 21-61 19.9%
Cleveland Cavaliers 24-58 15.6%
Phoenix Suns 25-57 11.9%
New Orleans Pelicans 27-55 8.8%
Sacramento Kings 28-54 6.3%
Detroit Pistons 29-53 4.3%
Washington Wizards 29-53 2.8%
Minnesota Timberwolves 31-51 1.7%
Portland Trail Blazers* 33-49 1.1%
Philadelphia 76ers 34-48 0.8%
Toronto Raptors** 34-48 0.7%
Dallas Mavericks 41-41 0.6%
Utah Jazz 43-49 0.5%

* Chart data courtesy of

** Portland’s pick will be given to Charlotte if it falls lower than No.12.

*** Toronto’s pick will be given to Oklahoma if it falls lower than the top 3.

Projections: Who Needs The No. 1 The Most

Nerlens Noel, the University of Kentucky center currently rehabbing an ACL tear, is projected to be the top overall pick this year. In an already watered-down class, his health status doesn’t help improve team prospects. But the league is increasingly in need of important role players with highly specific skill sets under the new post-CBA, morphing playing style era.

It might take another ten years before the league becomes a more balanced playing field, and choosing wisely in 2013 can ensure that lower-tier teams move toward contention sooner.

Below are the five teams that need the No. 1 pick, and possibly Noel, the most.

5. Sacramento Kings – The organization has been under intense pressure for months now as it sought to be sold to Seattle. But a bad week has revealed that the Kings aren’t going anywhere.

Landing the No. 1 pick would help lighten the mood in Sacramento, and give the organization trade leverage if it decided to move the troubled DeMarcus Cousins from its locker room while holding on to Noel.

Or, through some creative scheming, they could shift Noel or Cousins over to the 4 position, to provide some much-needed interior defense. After all, they allowed 58.5% shooting in the paint this year, the highest in the league.

4. Washington Wizards – The Wizards could certainly do with a young center like Noel, as an insurance measure for aging bigs Nene and Emeka Okafor. But in reality, Washington could be with some improved outside shooting first, and nabbing a small forward like Otto Porter, who compares to Tayshaun Prince but with a 51% spot-up rate, could help bolster their starting lineup or bench.

Ben McLemore is another shooter with a very high upside, but with Bradley Beal at shooting guard, it seems illogical to crowd that position by adding another SG.

3. Orlando Magic – The Magic already have a verifiable center in Nikola Vucevic, who was breaking records ambidextrously last year. But with Noel they could set up a nice package to trade for an offensive-minded shooting guard.

They’ve also been a deplorable transition-scoring team, so adding Otto Porter, who runs the open court very well, could be another route.

2. Cleveland Cavaliers – Cleveland, like most of the other prospective draft teams, need some additional defensive weapons. Having Noel to protect the rim around Kyrie Irving, who more often times than not lets his man fly to the hoop, could make Cleveland’s future very bright. But Cleveland has two strong players in Anderson Varejao and Tyler Zeller at center.

They do need help at the small forward spot, so they could go after Otto Porter or Shabazz Muhammad instead.

1. Charlotte Bobcats – The Bobcats are in desperate need of some top-grade defense, and a young, important presence in the middle from Noel could work wonders. They already have two other young potential All-Stars or would-be-All-Stars in Kemba Walker and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, and a good coach hire could help develop a young trio of Noel, Walker, and Kidd-Gilchrist into an important force.

Noel would need some time to get back to 100%, but the Bobcats have plenty of it to spare as they’ll be in rebuilding mode for the next 2-3 years, if lucky.

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Bogar Alonso
Bogar Alonso is a dedicated student of the hardwood, soccer pitch, boxing ring, and tennis court. He is a regular NBA contributor to XN Sports. His work, involving more than just sports, has appeared on The Creators Project, A&E Networks, XXL Magazine, and others. Follow Bogar on Twitter @blacktiles