Now that the Celtics season is over, the real fun can begin. That fun all starts with Tuesday night's NBA Draft Lottery in Chicago, which will air on ESPN at 8:30pm ET ahead of Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals. This year's lottery will be one of the most anticipated in NBA history with the ultimate prize being cultural phenomenon Zion Williamson and the Celtics will once again be at the center of all the action.
This year's draft lottery is the first with the reformed format, which presents two major changes:
- Reduced odds for teams with the worst records
- Top 4 picks will be decided through the lottery instead of top 3
It will be the fourth time in the last five years that the Celtics will have a representative at the NBA Draft Lottery and this time they'll have two potential picks in the mix. Unfortunately, due to pick protections the Celtics will not have any chance at landing the #1 spot in the draft, but they still possess a slim chance of landing both the #2 and #9 picks.
Chances of Landing No. 1 Pick:
1. New York Knicks: 14%
2. Phoenix Suns: 14%
3. Cleveland Cavaliers: 14%
5. Chicago Bulls: 12.5%
5. Atlanta Hawks: 10.5%
6. Washington Wizards: 9%
7. New Orleans Pelicans: 6%
8. *Memphis Grizzlies: 6%
9. **Dallas Mavericks: 6%
10. Minnesota Timberwolves: 3%
11. Los Angeles Lakers: 2%
12. Charlotte Hornets: 1%
13. Miami Heat: 1%
14. ***Philadelphia 76ers: 1%
* - Memphis Grizzlies keep pick if it lands 1-8, pick conveys to Boston Celtics if it lands 9 or lower
** - Dallas Mavericks keep pick if it lands 1-5, pick conveys to Atlanta Hawks if it lands 9 or lower
*** - pick conveys to Philadelphia 76ers if it lands #1 overall, pick conveys to the Boston Celtics if it lands 2-14
One important thing to remember is that the Celtics DO NOT want the Memphis Grizzlies pick to convey this year. For one thing, the back half of the lottery in this year's draft is perceived to be weaker than most years. For another, the protections on the Memphis pick lighten in the coming seasons and with the Grizzlies future looking someone dim in a stacked Western Conference, the Celtics could be in store for a premium pick in one of the next few drafts. On top of all of that, the NBA is expected to make high school players eligible for the draft in the very near future and the Celtics would love if the Memphis pick held off on conveying until the highly anticipated "double draft".
There is a 39.3% chance of the Grizzlies pick landing in the unprotected range (9-12) this year and conveying to Boston:
Chances of Grizzlies pick landing 9-12:
#9 - ~32.1%
#10 - ~6.7%
#11 - ~0.4%
#12 - >0.1%
Nevertheless, the pick the Celtics received in exchange for Jeff Green turning into any type of lottery selection is a win for Boston.
The only scenario in which the Celtics would want the Grizzlies pick to convey this season is if it meant the Kings pick jumping up in the draft and landing in the 2-4 range. The Kings surprisingly solid season has turned what was expected to be a surefire top-5 pick in this year's draft into a longshot to be anything more than the last selection of the lottery. However, the Kings finishing with the same record as both the Heat and the Hornets has turned what would've normally been a 1.9% chance of landing 2-4 for the team slotted 14th in the lottery to a 3.8% chance thanks to an NBA rule that gives teams with the same record equal lottery odds. The pick would go to the 76ers if it landed #1 overall due to the protections placed on it by Philadelphia in the Jayson Tatum-Markelle Fultz trade in 2017.
Celtics chances of landing Kings pick:
#2 - ~1.1%
#3 - ~1.2%
#4 - ~1.4%
#14 - ~95.2%
(1% chance at landing #1 to Philadelphia)
If the Celtics somehow miraculously land in the 2-4 range, it would do a lot to quite those proclaiming their demise after a 2nd round exit. The 2nd overall pick would present the Celtics with an opportunity to either draft their future franchise point guard in Ja Morant or throw another asset in the Anthony Davis trade discussions which could potentially mean keeping a player like Jaylen Brown or Jayson Tatum that would otherwise have been included in any potential trade package.
A good draft lottery night could do a lot to take the stench off of what was a wretched season for the Celtics and put the franchise back on a path to success. No matter what scenario comes to fruition in the NBA Draft Lottery, it will surely only be the beginning of what is expected to be a wild 2019 offseason across the NBA.
Photo: (Robert Deutsch - AP Photo)