Fingers Crossed for Long-Awaited NBA Draft Lottery Luck in Charlotte

by Sam Perley

It’s now been over 20 years since the Charlotte Hornets had those fateful NBA Draft Lottery ping-pong balls bounce their way, and tonight, they have another shot to end this rather unlucky streak. One four-digit combination will be virtually pieced together out of a pool of 1,001, a sequence that will officially set the order for October’s 2020 NBA Draft.

This will be President of Basketball Operations and General Manager Mitch Kupchak’s third lottery and upcoming draft with the organization. While the team hasn’t moved up or down in either of the past two lotteries, Kupchak turned the pair of selections into reigning Rising Stars Challenge MVP Miles Bridges, a potential All-NBA Rookie in PJ Washington, Cleveland’s second-round pick this year (32nd overall) and the Clippers’ second-rounder next year.

However, it’s not just the lottery selections Kupchak has hit on but the second-round and undrafted ones as well. He traded back into the 2018 Draft to take Devonte’ Graham, who exploded this season with averages of 18 points and 7 assists. The other three rookies from last year’s class in Cody Martin (36th), Jalen McDaniels (52nd) and Caleb Martin (undrafted) were all rotational players when the Hornets’ season was suspended on March 11.

Towards the end of his time with the Los Angeles Lakers, Kupchak also landed Jordan Clarkson (46th, 2014), Larry Nance Jr. (27th, 2015) and Ivica Zubac (32nd, 2016) in the second round. Every year, the draft pool is loaded with talented players and the Hornets have one of the best in the business when it comes to identifying them, regardless of where the selections ultimately are.

  • Charlotte is eligible to receive the first (6%), second (6.3%), third (6.7%), fourth (7.2%), eighth (34.5%), ninth (32.1%), 10th (6.8%), 11th (0.4%) or 12th (<0.1%) pick. The odds of a top-4 pick are just over 26 percent and picking eighth or ninth at around 66 percent.
  • Golden State, Minnesota and Cleveland all have a 14 percent chance of winning the lottery and a 52 percent shot at the top-4. Atlanta (12.5%; 48.1% at the top-4) has the fourth-best odds to win followed by Detroit (10.5%; 42.1%), New York (9.0%; 37.2%) and Chicago (7.5%; 31.9%).
  • The Hornets have not improved their lottery position since 1999, when they jumped from 13th to third and drafted Baron Davis. It was the third time in franchise history the organization had moved up in the lottery after going from fifth to first in 1991 (Larry Johnson) and from eighth to second in 1992 (Alonzo Mourning).
  • Charlotte has held the eighth-best lottery odds two other times: 2007 and 2008. They stood pat in 2007, taking Brandan Wright on draft night and immediately trading him to Golden State for Jason Richardson before falling to ninth one year later and selecting DJ Augustin.
  • The most recent team with the eighth-best odds to move up in the lottery was Memphis just last year. The Grizzlies used the second overall selection on presumed Rookie of the Year Ja Morant. Sacramento also went from eighth to third in 2017 (Philadelphia owned the pick and traded it to Boston, who drafted Jayson Tatum).
  • The most recent team with the eighth-best odds to win the NBA Draft Lottery was the Los Angeles Clippers in 2011. Four months earlier, the Clippers traded this particular pick along with Baron Davis to the Cleveland Cavaliers for Mo Williams and Jamario Moon. This selection ultimately turned into future All-NBA guard Kyrie Irving.
  • Assuming Charlotte holds serve at eight or moves up, this will be the franchise’s highest draft pick since 2013, when Cody Zeller was drafted fourth overall. The Hornets have had a top-4 pick seven times in franchise history.
  • The Hornets did garner a bit of lottery luck back in 2014 when Cleveland jumped from ninth to first, which pushed Detroit from the eighth to ninth slot. The slide sent the Pistons’ top-8 protected pick to Charlotte, which was acquired two years earlier in the Ben Gordon for Corey Maggette deal.
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