The Celtics Future Is Tied To The NBA Draft Lottery Results

By Ricky McGaughey | 05/17/2016
(Photo by Jennifer Pottheiser/NBAE via Getty Images)

Ladies and Gentleman, we have finally made it.

Today at 8:00 PM Eastern Time, the ping pong balls will be drawn at the NBA Draft Lottery, and three lucky teams will be awarded the top picks in the draft.

The Boston Celtics own the unprotected pick of the Brooklyn Nets, thanks to the Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett trade of 2013. This past year, Celtics fans watched Brooklyn’s season crumble, as they finished with the third worst record in the NBA. This means that the pick inherited from the Nets will have the third best chance of landing number one overall. The only teams who have a better chance are the Philadelphia 76ers and the Los Angeles Lakers, who have the best and second best chances, respectively. Depending on the Celtics luck tonight, their pick can land anywhere from number one to number six.

Here is the probability of the Celtics landing at each pick.

  1. 15.6%
  2. 15.7%
  3. 15.6%
  4. 22.4%
  5. 26.5%
  6. 4.2%

The Celtics have a long history of being unlucky at the draft lottery. Most notably when they fell from one to three in 1997, missing out on Tim Duncan, and falling from two to five in 2007, missing out on Kevin Durant. Pessimistic Celtics fans may not bother watching the lottery, as they believe that history is going to repeat itself. However, optimistic Celtics fans believe that this is finally the year the ping-pong balls will bounce their way, resulting in the Celtics winning the lottery.

What is considered “Winning the Lottery?”

The term “winning the lottery” is normally associated with landing the number one overall pick, but that is not necessarily the case. In a given draft class, there is a set number of franchise altering prospects, and this number varies from year to year. Sometimes there can be as many as three, and in other cases, there may be none. In the 2016 draft, there seems to be two prizes: LSU power forward Ben Simmons, and Duke small forward Brandon Ingram. To provide some insight, some scouts have listed Simmons’ potential as high as becoming the next LeBron James, while Ingram’s potential is regarded by scouts to be as high as becoming the next Kevin Durant. Obviously, there is no guarantee that either player ever comes close the reaching their respective potential, but there is no question that these are the best two prospects in this draft class. This means that landing the number one or two pick should be considered “winning the lottery.”

What makes the lottery so important for the Celtics is that it may hold the key to acquiring the superstar they most desperately need, whether that means keeping the pick or trading it in a package of other players and picks for an established star. For example, say that Jimmy Butler of the Chicago Bulls is available in a trade. If the Celtics own the number one pick, they will be able to put together a better package than any other team and will land Butler. Conversely, if the Celtics own the third pick and say the Lakers offer the first pick, the Bulls will take the Lakers offer without question. Owning the first or second pick in this draft will essentially give that team the keys to the offseason, being able to handpick any of the superstars available via trade.

It is well known that this a crucial offseason for the Celtics, and it seems that the entire direction of the offseason will relying on the bounces of the ping pong balls tonight.

Let the odds be in our favor.