Lottery history lesson

The NBA Draft lottery is a week away, and here’s what we know: The Celtics will get one of the top five picks (They may or may not use it). They have a 38.7 percent chance of getting one of the first two picks. They have a higher chance (31.9 percent) of landing the fourth pick than any other individual pick in the top five.

That’s it.

For a little perspective, consider the results of the NBA draft lotteries since 1985. A couple of examples may illustrate Boston’s chances better than the numbers will alone.

Last year, Toronto had the league’s fifth-worst record and got the No. 1 pick. Portland had the league’s worst record and picked fourth.

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In 2005, Atlanta had the NBA’s worst record and got the second pick. New Orleans and Charlotte tied for the second-worst record and picked fourth and fifth, respectively.

You have to go back to 2004 to see the worst team in the league (Orlando) nab the top pick. You have to go back to 2002 to see the league’s second-worst team — which the Celtics are this year– get one of the top two picks. (New York had the league’s second-worst record in 2006 and were awarded the No. 2 pick, but traded the pick to Chicago, thus not getting to use it.)

To summarize, the league’s second-worst team has picked No. 1 or No. 2 just once in the last five NBA draft lotteries. That’s 20 percent, for those of you who like numbers.

But Celtics fans may find hope in the 2001 lottery. That year, the league’s second-worst team (Washington) picked first. Of course, the Wizards used the pick on Kwame Brown.

The last time the league’s two worst teams picked first and second was in 1994. In other words, that combination happened just 7.7 percent of the time in the last 13 years.

Even the most hopeful Memphis and Boston fans can’t like those odds.