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The Bulls and the draft lottery

Sam Smith looks at the Bulls history with the draft lottery ahead of Tuesday night's drawing

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By Sam Smith | 5.17.2016 | 12:23 p.m.

I know what you’re thinking: Did the NBA assign the Bulls six lottery balls or only five. In all this excitement around the NBA lottery Tuesday in New York, it’s difficult to keep track. So you’ve got to ask yourself, Will the Bulls get lucky?

That’s the dirty little secret question as Jimmy Butler will represent the Bulls on stage at the annual lottery drawing. If he proves to have good luck and the Bulls get to move up to a top three pick, it could change the course of the franchise.

Perhaps not like it did for the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2003 when they were tied for the poorest record and won the lottery and drafted LeBron James. Or in 1992 when the Orlando Magic had the second poorest record and moved up one place and drafted Shaquille O’Neal. The Magic the following season in 1993 made the greatest ever lottery jump from No. 11 to No. 1. They selected Chris Webber and traded him for Penny Hardaway and future No. 1 picks.

Or even 2008 when the Bulls with the ninth worst record got the second best lottery luck ever to move all the way to No. 1 and select Derrick Rose.

It led the Bulls to the conference finals in 2011 and Rose to an MVP award. With the Bulls leading the league in wins for a second consecutive season, Rose suffered a catastrophic knee injury in the first game of the 2012 playoffs.

It doesn’t happen that often, especially in the current era with so many college freshmen as the top draft picks, but winning the lottery or moving up can revive a franchise with a future centerpiece. It looks so with Rookie of the Year Karl-Anthony Towns last year, and even Kristaps Porzingis selected No. 4.

The top two picks in this draft, league executives generally agree, are expected to be athletic forwards Ben Simmons of LSU and Brandon Ingram of Duke. But even moving up to No. 3 would give a team a chance to draft a potential franchise star, like Buddy Hield of Oklahoma, Kris Dunn of Providence, Jamal Murray of Kentucky or Dragan Bender of Croatia, likened to former Bull Toni Kukoc.

The 14 teams who missed the playoffs are in the lottery. A team can fall a maximum of three spots, meaning a maximum of three teams can move up. The team with the poorest record can fall only as far as fourth. The teams are assigned lottery ping pong balls for drawings according to poorest record in a weighted system. Thus the last place 76ers have the best chance with 250 balls. The Bulls at last in at 14th have the fewest chances at five. That gives the Bulls a 0.5 percent chance for the No. 1 pick and 1.8 percent to move into the top 3. The Bulls have the rights to the Sacramento pick if it falls to No. 11. That would require three teams to move into the top three from the nine through 14 slots. It’s never occurred. The Bulls would have one more chance for the Sacramento pick in 2017 from the Luol Deng trade. Then it becomes a second round pick.

In 1999, Charlotte with the 13th odds moved up for the No. 3 pick. In 1990, Seattle with the 10th worst odds moved up for the No. 2 pick.

Here’s a look at the lottery teams, records, lottery ball chances and potential changes from trades. Boston gets the Nets’ pick from the Kevin Garnett/Paul Pierce trade. The Knicks surrender their pick from the Andrea Bargnani trade. The Lakers lose the pick if it falls to No. 4.

Team 2015-16 Record Total Lottery Balls
Philadelphia 1 10-72 250
LA Lakers 2 17-65 199
Brooklyn (To Boston) 21-61 156
Phoenix 23-59 119
Minnesota 29-53 88
New Orleans 30-52 63
New York (To Denver or Toronto) 32-50 43
Sacramento 3 33-49 19
Denver 4 33-49 19
Milwaukee 33-49 18
Orlando 35-47 8
Utah 40-42 7
Washington 5 41-41 6
Chicago 42-40 5

1. This pick may be conveyed to Sacramento.
2. This pick may be conveyed to Philadelphia via Phoenix.
3. This pick may be conveyed to (i) Chicago via Cleveland, or (ii) Philadelphia.
4. This pick may be conveyed to Toronto via New York.
5. This pick may be conveyed to Phoenix.
Source: NBA

Butler will also be a pre and post game studio analyst for NBA-TV Wednesday for Game 2 of the Western Conference finals along with Isiah Thomas and Greg Anthony. Other players to appear on stage Tuesday with Butler include Towns for Minnesota, Devin Booker for Phoenix, Willie Cauley-Stein for the Kings and Isaiah Thomas for the Celtics for the Nets’ pick. Pat Williams, who was there for consecutive No. 1 picks for Orlando, will represent the Magic. Former Bulls vice president Steve Schanwald represented the Bulls for the Rose lottery. Former general manager Jerry Krause represented the Bulls in 1999.

The lottery started in 1984 following the embarrassment of the 1984 season when several teams, including the Bulls, appeared to be losing games for a chance to draft Hakeem Olajuwon. The lottery began the next season in 1985 with the then seven teams having equal odds. Patrick Ewing was the first pick by the Knicks. The weighted system giving better odds according to poorest record began in 1990 and essentially remains. The Bulls didn’t get into the lottery until after their sixth title in 1999. Their previous time with a top pick was pre-lottery in 1984 when they drafted Michael Jordan at No. 3.

Under the weighted lottery system, here are the winners according to record:

Worst record 4 times
2nd-Worst record 4 times
3rd-Worst record 5 times
4th-Worst record 0 times
5th-Worst record 5 times
6th-Worst record 2 times
7th-Worst record 1 times
8th-Worst record 1 times
9th-Worst record 2 times
10th-Worst record 0 times
11th-Worst record 1 times
12th-Worst record 0 times
13th-Worst record 0 times
14th-Worst record 0 times

The Bulls won the No. 1 pick one other time besides the Rose pick in 2008. It was in 1999 when they had the third best odds. They ended up selecting Elton Brand at No. 1. He was tied for Rookie of the Year with Steve Francis.

Here’s a look at the Bulls in the lottery:

1999: The third worst record got the Bulls the No. 1 pick and Brand in what was considered a top four draft with Brand, Francis, Lamar Odom and Baron Davis. The Bulls got Ron Artest with the No. 16 pick. Richard Hamilton was taken seventh, Andre Miller eighth and Shawn Marion ninth.

2000: The Bulls had the second poorest record but fell to No. 4. They selected Marcus Fizer. Kenyon Martin was No. 1 and Stromile Swift No. 2. The Bulls also had the No. 7 pick and traded it to Cleveland for Jamal Crawford. Mike Miller was Rookie of the Year at No. 5. The Bulls selected Dalibor Bagaric at No. 24.

2001: The Bulls with the poorest record fell to No. 4. The Bulls selected Eddy Curry. Kwame Brown was No. 1. The Bulls traded Brand for the rights to the No. 2 pick and selected Tyson Chandler. Pau Gasol was Rookie of the Year at No. 3. Joe Johnson was No. 10, Zach Randolph was No. 19 and Tony Parker No. 28. The Bulls selected Trenton Hassell No. 29 to start the second round. Brian Scalabrine was No. 34.

2002: The Bulls with the second poorest record got the No. 2 pick. Yao Ming went No. 1 to Houston. The Bulls selected Jay Williams. His career essentially ended following a motorcycle accident after his rookie season. Mike Dunleavy was No. 3. Amar’e Stoudemire was No. 9 and Carlos Boozer No. 34.

2003: The Bulls finished with the seventh poorest record and looked to replace Jay Williams with draft pick Kirk Hinrich. The Bulls were eying local product Dwyane Wade. At the last minute, Heat coach Pat Riley was persuaded by staff to pass on Chris Kaman and select Wade at No. 5. Carmelo Anthony was No. 3 and Chris Bosh No. 4 in the top draft of the new millennium.

2004: The Bulls had the second poorest record and fell to the No. 3 pick. They selected Ben Gordon. Dwight Howard was No. 1 and Emeka Okafor No. 2. The Bulls also purchased the Suns pick at No. 7 and selected Luol Deng. Andre Iguodala was No. 9. Al Jefferson was No. 15.

2006: The Bulls were in the playoffs, but the trade of Eddy Curry got them the Knicks’ pick, which was No. 2 as the Knicks also had the second poorest record. Bargnani was No. 1. The Bulls selected LaMarcus Aldridge and traded him for the rights to No. 4 and Tyrus Thomas and Viktor Khryapa. The Bulls also acquired second round picks that enabled them to trade up for Thabo Sefolosha at No. 13. Rajon Rondo was No. 21 and Kyle Lowry No. 24. The Bulls eventually acquired the rights to Taj Gibson for Sefolosha and used another of those Knicks’ second rounders to acquire the pick for Omer Asik.

2007: From that Curry deal, the Bulls also got the 2007 New York pick, which was No. 9 and got them Joakim Noah by switching picks with New York. The Knicks got Wilson Chandler with the Bulls No. 23 pick.

2008: The Bulls with the ninth poorest record get the No. 1 pick. Miami with the poorest record got the No. 2 pick and Michael Beasley. Kevin Love was No. 5 and Asik was No. 36.<

2016: ?

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