NBA Draft Lottery 2013: The Suns finally set themselves up

Sheet 1

Table courtesy of Piston Powered

Time: Tuesday, May 21, 5:30 p.m. PST


Finally, the Phoenix Suns have found themselves not only in the lottery, but in a good position to win it. The NBA Draft Lottery kicks off at 5:30 p.m. on Tuesday and the Suns’ fourth-worst NBA record gives them the fourth-likely chance of winning the top overall pick. Suns president of basketball operations Lon Babby will be in attendance in New York, while GM Ryan McDonough remains in Phoenix. McDonough will address the media following the pick.

Their chances stand at 11.9 percent, but history proves that it’s truly up to luck. Since the draft lottery started operating in a weighted format in 1990, the fourth-worst team has never won; the 1994 Bucks earned the fourth slot and got the top pick, but they were only the fourth team in line by losing a three-way tiebreaker with the second-worst NBA record. The Orlando Magic stand in Phoenix’s way as the most-likely suitors to get the first pick, but their odds only sit at 25 percent. The Charlotte Bobcats (19.9 percent shot of winning) and the Cleveland Cavaliers (15.6 percent) also have better chances than the Suns.

But there’s good reason to never say never.

In 1993, the Orlando Magic were coming off a decent rebuilding year after selecting top pick Shaquille O’Neal the year prior. Despite having the 11th-worst NBA record, they won the lottery and used the pick on Chris Webber, who was immediately exchanged for Penny Hardaway.

The league’s worst team hasn’t picked first since 2004, when the Magic selected Dwight Howard after putting up the NBA’s worst mark.

The Suns should be simply happy to have a decent shot at selecting first overall. In the lottery era the Suns have selected in the top-10 only three times, and they haven’t been in a position to pick so high since 2004 when they netted the seventh overall pick but traded Luol Deng to the Chicago Bulls for second-round choice Jackson Vroman and a 2005 late first-round pick that became Nate Robinson.

Phoenix has selected in the top-5 only six times. Those picks included Neal Walk at No. 2 in 1969, Corky Calhoun at fourth in 1972, John Shumate also at fourth in 1974, Alvan Adams at fourth in 1975, Walter Davis at fifth in 1977 and most recently Armen Gilliam as the second overall pick in 1987.

If the Suns become the first team with the fourth-worst record to win the lottery, it wouldn’t be all that surprising. The teams that have won the lottery the most in the 23 years since the lottery’s weighed system began are the third-worst teams and the fifth-worst teams, which have each won the lottery five times.

As the below shows, Phoenix has historically been very good at getting value when it selects in the middle of the lottery. Amare Stoudemire and Shawn Marion were building blocks for very successful teams, after all. Should the Suns have kept Deng, their luck in the top-10 would still be considered exceptional.

The Suns’ lottery picks

Year Standings Lottery result (player selected)
1999 8th-worst 9 (Shawn Marion)
2002 9th-worst 9 (Amare Stoudemire)
2004 7th-worst 7 (Luol Deng*)
2009 14th-worst 14 (Earl Clark)
2011 13th-worst 13 (Markieff Morris)
2012 13th-worst 13 (Kendall Marshall)

How it works

The draft lottery includes 1,000 combinations of four-number sequences with each NBA team assigned to their share. The Suns and their 11.9 percent, for example, will have 119 combinations that would net them the first, second or third overall picks. The league will draft the first, second and third picks via the lottery system and the teams will fill in after that in order of worst-to-best record. That means Phoenix at worst will select seventh, but that is highly unlikely. Three teams below Phoenix in odds would have to select first, second and third for that to happen.

Lottery odds for 2013

Team (record) Number of combinations Percent chance of winning
Orlando (20-62) 250 25
Charlotte (21-61) 199 19.9
Cleveland (24-58) 156 15.6
Phoenix (25-57) 119 11.9
New Orleans (27-55) 88 8.8
Sacramento (28-54) 63 6.3
Detroit (29-53) 36 3.6
Washington (29-53) 35 3.5
Minnesota (31-51) 17 1.7
Portland (33-49) 11 1.1
Philadelphia (34-48) 8 0.8
Toronto (34-48) 7 0.7
Mavericks (41-41) 6 0.6
Utah (43-39) 5 0.5

Lottery wins by record since 1990**

Team by record # of wins (since 1990)
Worst 3
2nd-worst 4
3rd-worst 5
4th-worst 0
5th-worst 5
6th-worst 2
7th-worst 1
8th-worst 1
9th-worst 1
10th-worst 0
11th-worst 1
12th-worst 0
13th-worst 0
14th-worst 0

*Luol Deng was traded by the Suns on draft day.

**This table is by pure record, not by order of lottery odds, which could include tiebreakers.

Tags: 2013 Nba Draft Lottery

  • hawki

    The 4th worst team picking in the lottery is long overdue…maybe tonight is the night.

    Hopefully, the sinister Stern will be there to collapse in a heap when /if it happens.

  • Forever is2long

    Ok Hawki, you have just been appointed GM for the day for the Suns. Assuming Noel’s knee is given a clean bill of health, who are you taking #1 if the Suns have the 1st selection?

  • Scott

    When I run ESPN’s draft lottery, all I ever get is the Suns picking Oladipo, regardless of what position the Suns get, except for when the Suns wind up #1, in which case they pick Noel.

    FWIW, in playing the lottery like a dozen times, I had the #1 pick like 4-5 times.

    Maybe they should have sent ME to the lottery drawing … :)

  • Azbballfan

    Noel has had two ACL tears, one in college and one in high school but ACL tears dont actually happen that often

    this year has been crazy for stars getting hit with major injuries

    I think you gotta take Noel if you draft 1st overall

    shooting guards that can score come into the NBA every year, but guys that can really defend, with his size and athleticism are rare

    the Suns are terrible at defense and rebounding, and have been that way for years and years

    McD could really make a splash by drafting for defense with his 3 picks

    This whole team needs to be gutted with the exceptions of Dragic and Tucker

    we could get Archie Goodwin at #30 or Franklin if he is there

    Noel and Franklin would give us two young players that defend and rebound

    we could save the drafting scorers strategy until the 2014 draft, and get Parker or Randle or Wiggins

    we could also use our picks in a package to trade down and get a trio of foreign players we could leave in Europe until next year

    Gobert, Saric and Jean Charles

    Yeah the 2013-2014 season would not be very good in that scenario but then the Calvary would come in next season

    in that strategy we would almost certainly have a top 3 pick which is what we really want

    great players are drafted, usually in the top 5 and you have to be there to get them

    drafting for Europe and sticking to one year deals on free agents this year or even 2 year deals

    summer of 2014, we have a ton of money in free agency, players coming over from Europe, a top pick in a loaded draft

    sounds good to me

  • Robert

    The Suns picked the wrong year to tank. But 3 years of tanking was probably in the cards anyway (sigh)

  • Forever is2long

    For the record if I am the GM and Noel’s knee is deemed not to be a chronic condition, I am taking him #1. If his knee is chronic, I think I would take Burke due to his upside. I just do not see many potential allstars in this draft. Now if I took Burke you can bet Dudley and or Gortat is being traded to secure a top 20 draft pick.

    There is no way I would use the #1 pick on McLemore or Oladipo. Anyway in a subpar draft there should be some fun discussions in the upcoming weeks.

  • hawki

    @ Forever

    Yes, I would take Noel with the #1 pick if he received a clean bill of health from the Suns medical team.

  • DBreezy

    Will this be the most watched event so far this season for Suns fans? Noel #1 if knee checks, nothing else seems clear at this point. A whole lot of stock shifting rumors out there with no workouts yet and no other meaningful changes since the tourney outside of injuries.

  • Ty-Sun

    Vinny Del Negro was just released by the Clippers. I’m not proposing that the Suns should hire him as their next head coach but he has had success. He seems to be a good motivator but lacking in advanced tactical skills needed to compete at a high level. Since the Suns aren’t anywhere near competing at a high level anytime soon, maybe Del Negro should be considered at least for a 1-2 year contract while the Suns rebuild.

    I’m NOT saying that the Suns should hire him but his name has to at least enter the mix of potential head coaches. For those who don’t remember, Del Negro was the director of player personnel for the Suns in 2006 and then promoted to assistant GM for the Suns in 2007 before leaving to become the head coach of the Bulls in 2008. His 5 year career coaching record is 210 wins and 184 losses.

    If the Suns were already a better team looking to reach the next level, I wouldn’t even mention his name but they’re not. Perhaps he might be a guy who could help the Suns back to respectability. He’s not “the answer” as a long term head coach but perhaps he’s worth considering for the short term.

  • Scott

    Keep in mind if Noel is having knee problems while at flyweight status, it would be much worse if he was to gain another 30-50 lbs.

  • DBreezy

    Also, looks like this coaching search is probably going to take awhile. The Suns were never one of the top jobs available, and with better jobs and possibly better candidates hitting the market there will probably be a holding pattern on people interviewing for and accepting gigs.

    The Clips job opened up today. Hollins is a candidate for a lot of people which could also make a conference finalist team need a new coach. The Hawks unofficially have an opening. The Kings situation looks a lot better with a new management team coming in. Who knows if the Lakers will actually cave in the Dwightmare situation, if crazy Dolan fires another coach, or if the GM situation between TOR and DEN will result in coaching changes. Those are far less likely, but every year there seems to be a surprise firing or two, so who knows.

    I think I read that Sampson is interviewing here later this week, but so far he’s the only guy to talk to McD beyond Hunter. Much like the draft process, I think a lot of these coaches are heavily controlled by their agents so it could taken some time. Especially if guys like the Van Gundy’s, PJ, etc keep playing hard to get. If they stay out of the game, some assistant coach type is probably going to get a big time shot for a first gig.

  • Scott

    FWIW, while I don’t necessarily mind Del Negro as a Suns coach (whoever it is has to be ready to have their record shredded with a losing season), I still think of him as a Spurs guy, not a Suns guy.

    (He played six years with the Spurs.)

  • DBreezy


    I think the weight thing would be a bigger deal if he had a hole in the cartilage or something degenerative like Bynum has. An ACL isn’t that and once things a strengthened again during the rehab process, additional weight shouldn’t be an issue. There was a lot of medical testing done at the combine and the Suns will get more if they land the first or second pick. We should know fairly soon if there are any red flags on his knee going forward.

  • Ty-Sun

    Mike Budenholzer has also been with the Spurs, much longer than Del Negro, but he’s one of the top prospects to become a head coach somewhere in the NBA. We can’t let past prejudices influence the future. I’d much rather give the Suns’ head coaching spot to Budenholzer even with his long association with the Spurs. If Budenholzer isn’t interested, then Del Negro shouldn’t be dismissed just because he played 6 years for the Spurs.

  • Scott

    @Ty-Sun -

    You did see where I said I’d be okay with Del Negro coaching the Suns? I just said I think of him as a Spurs guy, because of his playing years, despite the fact he’s already worked for the Suns for a few years.

    And no, I don’t think of Del Negro as a Chicago guy or a Clippers guy, despite his obvious presence there. ;)

    I’m fine with hiring Spurs guys (Budenholzer, Del Negro) and Lakers guys (Shaw, Scott).

    ATM, I can see the Suns going for Hunter again, assuming Hunter can’t get a job elsewhere (and he’s trying). I expect next season to be a losing season, and who wants that on their resume?

  • Azbballfan

    We could do alot worse then Del Negro as coach

    he is a former Suns player and Broadcaster so that counts for something

    Del Negro has had alot of success despite having no coaching experience when he came into the coaching ranks, he is lucky to have coached both chris paul and derrick rose

    one good thing about next season though for a potential coach, next season has minimal expectations

    the Suns in all likely hood will try to get as young and cheap as possible to prepare for the 2014-2015 season and the summer and draft before it

    We need a long term coach and a long term plan most importantly

    Blanks basically didnt have a plan in his 3 years as GM and that got us worse every year

    i dont call “Give big contracts to middling role players and let two of the best players in franchise history walk for conditional picks” a plan

    I would love to see the Suns get multiple lotto picks in this draft

    i expect Gortat to be moved out of anyone

    we still have Haddadi, worst comes to worst play him at center next year

    if Gortat is moved to Dallas and we get their lotto pick, who should we go for?

    i am all for getting a rim protector like Gobert at #12

    i cant imagine Bennett dropping that far but in such a weak draft, someone is going to rise and someone will drop that has good value

  • Ty-Sun

    @Scott – I was really speaking in general and not specifically to you. The Suns can’t afford to overlook anyone for the head coaching spot because of who they played for in the past AND they can’t afford to hire a new head coach based on him being a former Suns player either.

    Having some history with the Suns is obviously a plus on the PR side but shouldn’t be a determining factor in who they ultimately hire as head coach. Nor should a previous association with another team that the Suns have a rivalry with be a factor.

  • Scott

    @Ty-Sun -


  • charlie