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Warriors, Cavaliers and Timberwolves All Co-Favorites in Opening NBA Draft Lottery Odds

Sam Cox

by Sam Cox in NBA Basketball

Jun 18, 2020 · 10:06 AM PDT

LaMelo Ball driving
LaMelo Ball is the new favorite to be the top pick in the 2020 Draft. (Photo by AAP/Imago/Icon Sportswire)
  • With flattened lottery odds, the Golden State Warriors, Minnesota Timberwolves and Cleveland Cavaliers are joint-favorites to land the first overall pick in August 25th’s NBA Draft Lottery
  • The NBA Draft is expected to go ahead in October after the conclusion of the postseason
  • See the full odds of landing the #1 pick within the story below

Eight NBA teams are finished for the 2019-20 campaign. Their attention turns to the offseason and preparing for the 2020-21 season. The first major event for those teams will be the draft lottery, which is due to take place in late August.

As it stands, the draft will happen in October. The best college players in the land have been forced to wait much longer than in previous years, and the eight teams excluded from the NBA’s resumption in Orlando face a peculiar period waiting for competitive basketball to resume.

While the front offices are readying for the draft, the teams are looking for ways to keep fresh with suggestions of exhibition games in the not too distant future.

Anthony Edwards is the favorite to be the top pick in the NBA Draft odds, and the Golden State Warriors, Minnesota Timberwolves and Cleveland Cavaliers share the same price to land that first overall selection.

Odds to Land the First Overall Pick in 2020 NBA Draft Lottery

Team Odds
Cleveland Cavaliers +550
Golden State Warriors +550
Minnesota Timberwolves +550
Atlanta Hawks +650
Detroit Pistons +750
New York Knicks +900
Chicago Bulls +1000
Charlotte Hornets +1400
Any Other Team +650

Odds taken Jun. 18th

Flattened Lottery Percentages

Last year saw a change to the lottery. The percentages were tweaked in an effort to curb tanking, flattening the odds at the top. As a result, the bottom three teams in the league share the same chance of landing the first overall pick. It is the Warriors who lose out from that alteration in this instance – they have a 14% chance of winning the lottery, the same as Cleveland and Minnesota.

The fourth team owns 125 combinations, resulting in a 12.5% chance at the top pick. The Hawks, who were 20-47 to Golden State’s 15-50, already have an established young core and will be hoping the draft falls their way this year to add another high-ceiling youngster to their group.

The Pistons, set to embark on a lengthy rebuild, are fifth in the betting with 105 lottery combinations. A 10.5% chance is a marked increase from the pre-2019 lottery odds, and there’s a case to be made that Detroit is most in need of the first overall pick of any of the eight teams.

New York, Chicago and Charlotte have 9%, 7.5% and 6% chances at the top draft selection respectively. That’s reflected in the odds above – of the three, Chicago most recently owned the top pick, selecting future MVP Derrick Rose in 2008.

Lottery History

There are plenty of NBA Draft lottery conspiracy theorists out there. History shouldn’t matter for a lottery, but some will make the case that the NBA is motivated to give certain teams the draft’s best asset. How teams have fared in the past is ultimately irrelevant come lottery day, though it’s interesting to take a look back at how some of these teams have fared in the past.

The Warriors haven’t made the first pick since 1995, when they took Joe Smith. The Cavs are more familiar with it, selecting first on four occasions since the turn of the century including a remarkable three in four year spell. In those three drafts, they took Kyrie Irving, Anthony Bennett and Andrew Wiggins – who was traded to the T-Wolves for Kevin Love later that summer.

Minnesota won the lottery in 2015, taking Karl-Anthony Towns, who has become an All-NBA caliber center and the supposed future of the franchise.

The top three teams in the lottery odds are intrinsically linked. The Warriors and Cavs duelled in the Finals through the second half of the 2010s. Wiggins was drafted by Cleveland, played for the Timberwolves and was traded to the Warriors in exchange for D’Angelo Russell. This lottery will be another major moment in the history of these franchises despite their contrasting expectations for next season.

Anything Is Possible

Spreading your wager across the top three might be the most sensible way to go, but the nature of the lottery after last year’s changes makes it very open for a team to climb a long way.

The New Orleans Pelicans were not being considered as a Zion Williamson destination before the 2019 lottery. While there’s no transcendent star like Williamson or Ja Morant in this class, the opportunity for a mid-lottery team like Charlotte, Chicago or one of the teams heading to Orlando, to climb is significant.

Perhaps we get treated to the narrative of the Knicks getting the top pick after missing out on Zion, Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving. Perhaps the Wizards leap to first overall for a young star to put alongside Bradley Beal and John Wall.

This isn’t a draft class that projects to immediately alter the league, but lottery night will still be a pivotal day in the short- and long-term futures of many franchises.

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