Kings "Win" Race to the Bottom

Lord knows there are more important things to talk about this morning, Flip Saunders primary among them, but the Kings' loss to the Spurs on Sunday night means they've officially clinched the worst record in the NBA this season. They're 16-64 with two games remaining.

That gets the Wizards and Clippers, both 19-61 through Sunday night, off the hook. Or it knocks them back a peg, depending on how you look at it. For their efforts, or lack of, the Kings get 25 percent of the combinations of ping-pong balls in the drawing for the No. 1 pick. The second-place finisher gets 19.9 percent and third gets 15.6 percent. If the Wizards and Clippers remain tied, they split the difference -- there is no tiebreaker. If the Wizards finish with the third-worst record, they'll pick no lower than sixth.

For the Wizards fans out there looking for a silver lining, the team with the worst record in the lottery has been drawn for the top pick just three times (New Jersey in 1990, Cleveland in 2003 and Orlando in 2004) since the NBA started using a weighted lottery in 1990.

The team with the second-worst record has picked first three of 19 times (Orlando in 1992, Philadelphia in 1996, and the Clippers in 1998), and the third-worst record has received the top pick three times.

The anti-silver lining? One of those three times, it was Washington who got the No. 1, and I don't think I need to remind you how they used that pick. It was also the last season in which the Wizards won 19 games, in 2000-01.

Finishing in the bottom three doesn't guarantee a top-three pick though. In 2007, when Memphis, Boston and Milwaukee had the NBA's three worst records, they ended up with the fourth, fifth and sixth picks, behind Portland (which drafted Greg Oden), Seattle (Kevin Durant) and Atlanta (Al Horford).

By Keith McMillan |  April 12, 2009; 11:32 PM ET
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Sacramento tanked them games. Sam Cassell as an Assistant Coach that is gonna be hysterical too watch,can't wait!

Posted by: jeremydvid | April 13, 2009 12:21 AM

How are we going to shed salary by trading Etan and Mike James, don't we have to take back equal salary in return? We'd have to trade with a team far enough under the cap to absorb our salary (there are not many of them), or use a trade exception. Seeing that Abe has never paid the luxury tax ever, we will probably pick Rubio and force him to stay in Europe for a season.

Posted by: twigmuffin | April 13, 2009 12:30 AM

The Wizards can't even lose right??????

Posted by: bulletsfan78 | April 13, 2009 12:30 AM

twigmuffin

They could just trade the pick and a player for a later pick and someone else's garbage?

Or they could go over the cap and we win the NBA championship next year!

We all can dream can't we.

Posted by: bulletsfan78 | April 13, 2009 12:32 AM

Ending up with Rubio and him staying in Europe for one more year would not be the worst thing to happen to the Wizards. Rubio has a $6M buyout so he may not be coming over regardless of who drafts him. If Rubio came here he is just insurance for Arenas next year while he learns the NBA game -- he's not leading the Wizards to the Title. Arenas, assuming full health, will play 38 minutes a night leaving very little time for Rubio.

The worst case scenario is the Wizards end up with a 4-6 pick because few, if any, teams will be willing to trade for that pick. This will force the Wizards to draft a player that likely is not worth the salary of a player drafted that high.

At least it looks like the Wizards have gotten the first off season move correct --Flip Saunders will be a great fit for the Wizards.

Posted by: Chad32 | April 13, 2009 1:19 AM

I don't mind Saunders whatsoever. Not perfect, but could be a good fit for this team.

I love all the revisionist history on the percentages of the draft lottery. The chances/percentages don't change. You could flip heads 20 times in a row, but the next flip will still have a 50% chance of being heads. Now the aggregate percentage that you would be able to flip heads 20 times in a row would be miniscule.

Posted by: rphilli721 | April 13, 2009 1:28 AM

Congrats to Sacramento, they thoroughly deserve the honor. Last year Memphis was rotten all season long and yet somehow fell out of the top three, to their consternation. However they managed to pull off a trade with Minnesota for OJ Mayo and also pick up Darrell Arthur later in the first round, and with Marc Gasol added, they're now one of the more promising young teams. Not that the fans have figured it out yet -- they're staying away in droves.

That's the problem with going with youth -- the mass of people who buy tickets to games (most of whom aren't hard-core fanatics), stop going until the youth start winning.

So all's not lost if the balls bounce the wrong way.

Sacramento has two players who are maybe in the same class as Butler and Jamison, in Kevin Martin and Jason Thompson. Didn't seem to help them much last season, did it?

Posted by: Samson151 | April 13, 2009 7:05 AM

SAMSON151:

After 42 years of marriage that's what my wife keeps telling me, "All's not lost....".

Posted by: glawrence007 | April 13, 2009 8:24 AM

The desire of management is to have 20,000+ fannies in the seats night after night. And I must admit, people are showing up when the main event is on, that being "GILBERT and the ramblers." Its as far from championship b-ball as you can get.

But FLIP will get more offensive production out of them and into the early rounds of the play-offs. NBA offensive b-ball will carry you just so far however. Unless the entire league "flips" their winning philosophy and begins ignoring the defensive end of the court.

Posted by: glawrence007 | April 13, 2009 8:44 AM

The hair-brained wisdom says that the Thunder will get the #1 pick and take OK local Griffin to help ticket sales. The conspiracy theorists say Stern will fix it like he did for Ewing and Labron.

However this year, the thinking may be different. If the wiz got the #1 pick, we'd likely keep Griffin and pay the tax. OKC ticket sales are OK, but Abe paying a steep tax might be better for the league.

Perhaps Stern will rig it so we get Griffin and Abe has to pay out to all the other teams?


Posted by: cballer | April 13, 2009 9:02 AM

Time to bring Blake Griffin to DC! He is the missing piece to making this a legit 50 win team. Then we can ship out Jamison to avoid the luxury tax.

Posted by: iillnyiil | April 13, 2009 9:50 AM

Even though Flip is not my vote, I believe though that Defense will be much improved with him as coach.

And yes I know you're saying anything would be an improvement with this bunch, but I'm talking Defense good enough to challenge deep into the playoffs and possibly the championship game in the east.

I know a lot of you are aware of what the prognosticators are saying about the Wizs.

They are saying that completely healthy, this Team is easily a top four Team in the East next year.

Yes, I am gloating, 'cause I been saying it too.

LarryInClintonMD.

Posted by: LarryInClintonMD | April 13, 2009 10:11 AM

Griffin, obviously, if we get the first. Rubio if we get the second. Arenas would make a helluva SG, and handling the ball less would prolong his career/knees. It would also give us one of the most dynamic backcourts in the league. We would still be some muscle short of a contender, but 20-10 proper enforcer power forwards can be had in trades (next year's first, Young, Mghee, an improving Crittendon, etc. as trade bait). If we pick third, it has to be Thabeet, which would allow us to trade Mcghee, Young, Haywood etc. for a proper starting 2nd guard or PF. Not so sold on Harden, who, despite having elite skills, lacks elite athleticism and would be yet another non-NBA body, physical oddball in the Blatche, Pech, Young, Mcghee, soft Jamison, 0-athleticism Songalia, tall but awkward & slow-footed Haywood etc. mold. This team has enough perimeter skill already, not enough muscle, strength and pure athleticism up front.

Posted by: jwlaytham | April 13, 2009 11:37 AM

"For the Wizards fans out there looking for a silver lining, the team with the worst record in the lottery has been drawn for the top pick just three times (New Jersey in 1990, Cleveland in 2003 and Orlando in 2004) since the NBA started using a weighted lottery in 1990."

I have posted this before, this is not only misleading but is wrong. In 1996, the worst team *in the lottery* was Philadelphia, and it did win the lottery. The team with the worst record that year was Vancouver, but due to the rules governing expansion teams, it was *excluded* from the lottery for the 1st pick! So, the teams that were granted the highest percentage (or most ping-pong balls) by NBA actually won 4 times, not just 3!

In addition, from 1990 to 1993, the worst team only had 16.7%, not 25% to win the 1st pick (NBA changed the rule in 1994). Overall, the highest percentage team won the lottery 4 out of 19 years. That's about 21%, right between 16.7%and 25%. I say that goes quite according to the expected value of the probability!

Posted by: sagaliba | April 13, 2009 11:52 AM

Sagaliba,
I appreciate that. I had always seen it written as four times, but when I looked back over the history on the NBA's site, it was three. I'd thought we'd been wrong all those other times.

The other facts about probabilities are true ... although anyone disappointed that the Wizards didn't finish with the worst record could still find that to be a silver lining.

Was just throwing that all out there. It's up to you guys to attach whatever meaning you want to it.

Thanks for the replies.

Posted by: KeithMcMillan | April 13, 2009 6:12 PM

Can anybody tell me how does the NBA determine who drafts 1st between the Clippers and the Wizards if they both finish 19-63 ?

Posted by: frediemac1 | April 14, 2009 12:17 AM

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