With the writing stamped on the wall inside the locker room soon after Anthony Davis made his trade request, May 14, 2019 instantly became the most important date for the New Orleans Pelicans franchise before the start of next season.
The 2019 NBA Draft lottery is less than three months away and New Orleans not only hopes to draw a fortunate number combination but there’s a good chance that at least another team could emerge as a serious candidate in the AD sweepstakes this summer. Names like Jayson Tatum, Brandon Ingram and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander are considered among the most likely to headline any package return but a team possessing one of the the top picks and the opportunity to soon select Zion Williamson, Ja Morant or another exciting prospect should make a sizable impact on trade negotiations for Davis.
In years past the odds of a lottery team scoring the first overall pick were straightforward: the worst record was awarded the most chances to nab the top prize and those odds steadily decreased for all subsequent teams ranked in order of wins and losses.
This is no longer true.
Moving forward, the three worst teams all have an equal opportunity to land the first overall pick as well as wind up with a top-3 selection. More importantly from the Pelicans perspective, New Orleans chances of leapfrogging up somewhere inside the top-5 of the lottery appear on the verge of increasing dramatically.
For those interested in the exact odds plus a comparison to the percentages under the old rules, please refer to the following tweet by Adrian Wojnarowski.
Here is an ESPN graphic on how NBA Draft lottery odds change in 2019 pic.twitter.com/Jk8X7q0J3Z— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) September 28, 2017
Starting with this upcoming lottery, teams that finish with a record in the 6-10th worst range in the standings have greatly improved their chances of moving up in the draft.
With 20 games left on the regular season schedule, the Pelicans have the ninth worst record in the league before tonight’s action commences across the league. But it is important to note that only three games separate New Orleans from as high as sixth (a 37% chance of grabbing a top-5 pick) or as low as 14th (a 2% of entering the draft with a top-5 pick). Thus, notching a good number of ensuing losses is going to be rather determinative on where the Pelicans will be selecting from in June’s NBA Draft, but New Orleans does face several hazards.
Among those 20 remaining games, twelve will be against opponents currently outside of the playoff picture. So only eight contests are going to come versus teams who will be playing past the second week of April, and six of these matchups will take place inside the comfy confines of the Smoothie King Center, where the Pelicans have gone 18-12 on the season and displayed an ability to knock off anyone.
Another potential wrench for those placing their bets through Best Sportsbook: the Pelicans’ talent level and competitive spirit. The roster around Jrue Holiday is filled with try-hards (Kenrich Williams, Frank Jackson, Jahlil Okafor, Cheick Diallo, etc) who have shown no signs of laying down and chanting, 1, 2, 3, Cancun together. While it’s undoubtedly great to establish commonality and chemistry for next season, it could come at a very real cost in the 2019 Draft Lottery.
If you thought there was nothing at stake for the remainder of the season, think again.