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2020 NBA Draft Lottery: New Orleans Pelicans poised to remain in 13th slot but there’s an 8% chance that outcome changes

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After leaping into the top spot and grabbing the rights to draft Zion Williamson a year ago, can the Pels get lucky again?

BIG3 - Playoffs Photo by Sean Gardner/BIG3 via Getty Images

Can Lady Luck smile upon the New Orleans Pelicans franchise in consecutive years?

The Pelicans had just a six percent chance of vaulting into the top spot entering the 2019 NBA Draft lottery. Once deputy commissioner Mark Tatum announced the team from the envelope which would select second in that draft, the whole world knew in the very next instant that Zion Williamson was destined for New Orleans.

This time round, the Pelicans have close to the same odds (5.7%) of only squeezing into the top 4 of the 2020 NBA Draft, with a minuscule 1.2% of winding up with this year’s first overall selection. For what it’s worth, the Orlando Magic pulled off the trick against similar odds back in 1993.

But repeating this season would be virtually unheard of (and, in fact, record-setting). New Orleans has the 13th-best odds to secure the No. 1 pick, with only a 1.2% chance. No team has ever had smaller odds to win the lottery and gone on to win the lottery (though the Magic in 1993 came close, winning the lottery with 1.52% odds.) Ironic as it is, the Magic are the only team to have won the lottery in consecutive seasons like the Pelicans could do Thursday.

In all likelihood (92.0% odds), New Orleans will remain penciled in at that 13th position after tonight, but remember that the potential exists they leap into any one of the top four picks or slide down a spot to 14th if the Memphis Grizzlies happen to get extremely lucky and jump into the top four themselves.

David Griffin represented the Pelicans in person at last year’s drawing. The organization is shaking that rotation up today by having Trajan Langdon occupy those hopefully fortunate shoes, but with Covid-19 altering reality, the New Orleans GM will be on camera from a remote location along with the rest of the teams’ representatives.

Cross them fingers and let’s geaux Pels!

Who: 2020 NBA Draft lottery

When: August 20, 7:30 p.m. Central

Where to watch: ESPN

For more Pelicans talk, subscribe to The Bird Calls podcast feed on iTunes, Spotify, Stitcher or Google Podcasts. You can follow this author on Twitter at @OlehKosel.