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Pelicans have 4 percent chance of keeping first-round pick

Two years ago, despite holding just 13.7 percent odds, New Orleans was the big winner of the 2012 NBA draft lottery, resulting in the selection of No. 1 pick Anthony Davis. The power forward from Kentucky has quickly proven to be a franchise player, having made his All-Star debut in February.

This spring, the Pelicans’ odds of winning the May 20 draft lottery are far worse, at just 1.1 percent, but that’s not necessarily the most important detail for fans to know. Of greater significance is that New Orleans has a 4.0 percent chance of finishing in the top three of the lottery, which is the only way the Pelicans can keep their 2014 first-round pick. In addition to the 1.1 percent chance of winning, based on the lottery system they have a 1.3 percent chance of the No. 2 pick and 1.6 percent odds of earning the No. 3 choice.

As part of last year’s trade to acquire All-Star point guard Jrue Holiday, the Pelicans dealt their 2014 first-round pick to the Philadelphia 76ers, but with the caveat that it is top-five protected. That means that if the Pelicans’ pick lands anywhere in the top five, they get to keep it. If not, the pick is conveyed to Philadelphia.

Based on the NBA’s lottery system, in which picks 4-14 are determined by reverse order of winning percentage, it is impossible for the Pelicans to earn either the fourth or fifth pick, meaning they must vault into the top three. New Orleans went 34-48 during the 2013-14 regular season, giving it the league’s 10th-worst record. As a result, the Pelicans can only finish first, second, third, 10th, 11th, 12th or 13th at the New York City-hosted lottery. That means that if the Pelicans’ pick is conveyed to Philadelphia, the 76ers can only choose 10th, 11th, 12th or 13th.

Should the Pelicans keep their 2014 first-rounder, the top-five protection carries over to 2015 (and every year through 2019 if the 76ers still have not been conveyed the pick). If the 76ers haven’t been conveyed a first-round pick from the Pelicans after the 2019 draft, it automatically becomes a second-round pick in 2020.

FAST LOTTERY FACTS

  • The 2014 NBA draft lottery will be held on Tuesday, May 20, at 7 p.m. Central. It will be televised live from New York City by ESPN, prior to the network’s coverage of a playoff game.
  • New Orleans has a 1.1 percent chance of winning the lottery. Its chances of finishing second are 1.3 percent, while the odds of finishing third are 1.6 percent (1.58 percent, to be exact).
  • The Pelicans have a 4.0 percent of finishing in the top three of the lottery and therefore keeping their 2014 first-round draft pick.
  • If New Orleans does not move into the top three at the lottery, its pick will be conveyed to the Philadelphia 76ers, as part of last summer’s Jrue Holiday trade. However, the 76ers can only pick 10th, 11th, 12th or 13th (most likely, it would be 10th).