Wizards

NBA's adjusted draft lottery rule now becomes a major storyline for Wizards

Wizards

There is a reason why the Portland Trail Blazers voted against it.

The NBA's restart in Orlando came with a variety of adjusted rules including a revamped schedule and the potential for a play-in tournament. But tucked away in the league's press release was an amendment to the draft lottery rules. Basically, it set the lottery odds based on team records through March 11, effectively locking in the bottom-eight teams that did not make the trip.

The Blazers, along with other teams involved in the restart, would be left with no way of improving their lottery odds beyond the No. 9 slot, even if they bottomed out in their final eight games. It was a potential pitfall that put focus on the Wizards, who entered the restart with the ninth-worst record in the NBA and therefore the ninth-best odds.

Now that the Wizards have lost their first two games at Disney World, that rule is coming back into the forefront. The Wizards are currently tied in the loss column with the Hornets, who aren't in Orlando but are locked in with the eighth-best lottery odds.

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What that means is if the Wizards continue to lose, they can't gain more ping-pong balls for lottery night, which is set for Aug. 25. And now there is a distinct possibility they could have worse odds than a team with a better win percentage than them.

 

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That usually only happens with rare exceptions in the NBA draft lottery. It is essentially only when trades are made, like in 2017 when the Boston Celtics had the best odds of any team despite winning 53 games the season before. That was due to a trade they made with the Brooklyn Nets, who fell to the worst record in the league in 2016-17.

It would be a cruel twist for the Wizards, who need as much help as they can get in this year's draft as they hope to find another blue chip prospect to add to their burgeoning young core. Making that pick count is especially important given their salary cap situation with John Wall and Bradley Beal on the books, which has left them with fewer resources to work with. They could get another key rotation player on a rookie contract.

The good news is that the lottery rules were changed more permanently before last year's drawing in order to create more parity in the annual event. It smoothed out the odds to discourage tanking and the results in its first year were as-intended.

The No. 1 pick went to the Pelicans, who had the seventh-best odds going in. And the No. 2 pick went to the team with the eighth-best odds, the Memphis Grizzlies.

If the Wizards stay where they are, at ninth, they will have a 20.2 percent chance at a top-four pick. That's not bad, but they could have reason to complain if the league's new lottery rule ends up hurting them as it now appears that it could.

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