For the majority of the season, it was abundantly clear that the Bucks were barreling toward a high-lottery pick. Injuries, suspensions and inconsistent play quickly eliminated the optimism brought on by a revamped roster and new head coach. Not even shipping Gary Neal to the Bobcats at the deadline was enough to right the ship.
The Bucks finished with a league-worst 17 wins, earning the highest odds of capturing the top pick in the deep 2014 draft. And now, after nearly a month of watching from home as the playoff field has been whittled down to four, the time has come for Milwaukee to find out where that pick lands.
In many ways, this draft is among the most important in franchise history. Not only is it a chance to select a potential star, but it’s also an opportunity for a team stuck in a rut of mediocrity for the better part of the last 15 years to forge a new identity. With a new ownership group in place and a new arena in the works, landing a potential franchise cornerstone is the next step in returning to basketball respectability.
While the draft lottery doesn’t bring the same excitement as the draft itself, once the order is set, the Bucks can begin ramping up their scouting efforts, narrowing down the potential draftee pool to just a few elite prospects. If all goes well Tuesday, Milwaukee will have its choice of top players, with names like Parker, Wiggins and Exum all in play.
With only a few hours remaining before the ping-pong balls start bouncing, here’s everything you need to know about Tuesday night’s festivities.
When and Where
Date: Tuesday, May 20.
Time: 7:00p.m. CDT
Place: Times Square Studios – New York, NY
In taking over for David Stern this spring, new commissioner Adam Silver gave up his duties as officiator of the draft lottery. Newly minted Deputy Commissioner Mark Tatum will handle the proceedings for the first time.
The lottery consists of the 14 teams who did not qualify for the playoffs. In accordance with the number of teams, 14 ping-pong balls, numbered 1 through 14, are placed in a drum with four drawn out at a time and then placed back in. Drawing four balls at once yields exactly 1,001 distinct numerical combinations, of which 1,000 are assigned to the teams in proportion to their final standing. That means the owner of the league’s worst record, Milwaukee, receives the most combinations (250), while the 48-win Suns receive only five.
The first combination drawn determines the number one pick, and the process is completed twice more to determine picks two and three. After the top three is established, the order of the remaining 11 teams is determined by reverse order of their final record. That means the Bucks can’t drop further than the fourth pick.
So, let’s say, for example, the Sixers, Magic and Jazz own the first three combinations drawn (thus, holding the first three picks). Milwaukee would then pick fourth by default, as a result of its league-worst record.
Or, let’s pretend the Magic (1), Bucks (2) and Celtics (3) own the first three combinations. That would leave Philadelphia with the fourth pick, Utah with the fifth, Los Angeles with the sixth, and so on.
The process of determining the combinations and draft order actually occurs prior to the telecast. After the order is set, the familiar team logo cards are placed into envelopes and revealed one-by-one, beginning with number 14, by NBA Deputy commissioner Mark Tatum.
See the table below for a breakdown of each team’s lottery odds.
*Detroit’s pick is conveyed to Charlotte if it falls outside of the top eight
*New Orleans’ pick is conveyed to Philadelphia if it falls outside of the top five
*Denver owns both its own pick (projected 11) and New York’s (12) – Orlando receives whichever pick is more favorable
*Phoenix receives Minnesota’s pick only if it falls to No. 14
Draft Lottery History
Here’s a foreboding stat for the Bucks: Since the introduction of the current, weighted lottery system in 1990, only three teams with the worst record in the league have received the top pick: New Jersey in 1990 (Derrick Coleman), Cleveland in 2003 (LeBron James) and Orlando in 2004 (Dwight Howard).
The largest upset came in 1993, when the Magic selected Chris Webber first overall despite finishing with the 11th-worst record in the league. Orlando also won the lottery a year earlier with the second-worst record, using the pick to select Shaquille O’Neal. The Magic are the only team to win the lottery in consecutive years.
Since 2005, only one team with the worst or second-worst record has landed the top pick:
2005: Milwaukee (6th-worst)
2006: Toronto (5th-worst)
2007: Portland (6th-worst)
2008: Chicago (9th-worst)
2009: L.A. Clippers (2nd-worst)
2010: Washington (5th-worst)
2011: L.A. Clippers (8th-worst)*
2012: New Orleans (T-3rd-worst)
2013: Cleveland (3rd-worst)
*Traded to Cleveland
Recent Bucks Draft History
Historically, the Bucks haven’t exactly knocked their first round picks out of the park (Oh, you made it very clear you have zero desire to play in Milwaukee, Yi Jianlian? Too bad, we’re taking you anyway). Here are Milwaukee’s first round selections since 2000:
2000: Jason Collier, Georgia Tech (15)
2002: Marcus Haislip, Tennessee (13)
2003: T.J. Ford, Texas (8)
2005: Andrew Bogut, Utah (1)
2007: Yi Jianlian, China (6)
2008: Joe Alexander, West Virginia (8)
2009: Brandon Jennings, Italy (10)
2010: Larry Sanders, VCU (15)
2011: Jimmer Fredette*, BYU (10)
2012: John Henson, North Carolina (14)
2013: Giannis Antetokounmpo, Greence (15)
Milwaukee could hold the first overall selection for the fifth time in franchise history and the first time since 2005, when the Bucks made Andrew Bogut the top pick. Glenn Robinson (1994), Kent Benson (1977) and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (1969) are the other three players to hold the distinction.
The Bucks will be represented by Alexander Lasry and Mallory Edens, son and daughter of new co-owners Marc Lasry and Wes Edens, respectively. The 18-year-old Edens will be seated on-stage for the telecast, while Lasry, a current New York University MBA candidate, will serve as Milwaukee’s representative for the “actual” lottery occurring before the broadcast. Lasry, as well as the other 13 teams’ representatives and NBA officials, oversee the lottery to ensure proper procedure is followed.
With Milwaukee unable to fall lower than the fourth pick, they’re essentially guaranteed to have a chance at nabbing one of the top-tier prospects. Andrew Wiggins, Jabari Parker, Joel Embiid, Julius Randle and intriguing Australian Dante Exum will all be in play, as I wrote in my pre-lottery mock draft. The mock draft will be updated following the lottery to reflect any changes.