The Celtics’ odds of earning a top pick in the 2016 NBA Draft got a bit of a boost in the past 24 hours, as the Brooklyn Nets announced they would be shutting down starters Thaddeus Young and Brook Lopez for the remainder of the season.
Boston owns Brooklyn’s 2016 unprotected first round pick, acquired back in the summer of 2013 in the blockbuster Kevin Garnett/Paul Pierce swap. Currently, the Nets hold the fourth-worst record in the NBA (21-56) with five games remaining in the team’s regular season.
With no incentive to win over the final couple weeks of the season however, the Brooklyn organization is prioritizing rest for two of the team’s core pieces.
“We’re going to shut those guys down, obviously get them to recover from the long, grueling season, get that process started early,” Nets interim head coach Tony Brown told the Brooklyn Game Sunday.
Without the services of Young and Lopez, who are statistically Brooklyn’s best two scorers and rebounders, the Nets’ odds of winning any of their final five contests have taken a dramatic hit. The team’s lineup downgrade could loom large from Boston’s perspective, since it gives the Nets a chance to catch the Phoenix Suns for the third worst record in the NBA Lottery.
Currently, the Suns (20-57) are one game ahead of the Nets in the lottery standings, but Phoenix has a couple of winnable games remaining on their schedule against the Pelicans and Kings next weekend.
If the Suns win one or both of those games and Brooklyn loses out to close the season, the Celtics’ lottery odds would improve by a few percentage points. Currently, at Brooklyn’s No. 4 spot in the lottery, the Celtics would receive a 37.8 percent chance at a top-three pick and a 11.9 percent shot at the number one overall selection. If Brooklyn jumps up to the No. 3 spot however, those percentages improve to 46.9 percent for a top-three pick and a 15.6 percent chance at the top selection.
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