So last night the Utah Jazz won in double overtime against the Minnesota Timberwolves in the last game of the season, while the Boston Celtics lost to the playoff bound Washington Wizards. The end result is that both teams finished the season with 25 wins. And as a result, both teams have a claim to the 4th lotto seed going into the May 20th NBA Draft Lottery. So what happens when two teams are tied?
According to Wiki, it means that a) the probabilities are averaged, and then b) one of the two teams gets an advantage. That's the coin flip part we're so good as losing. (Jazz could have had a shot at Harrison Barnes or Damian Lillard, but ended up with Kevin Murphy in that draft).
In full, this is what the 'deal' is:
"In the event that teams finish with the same record, each tied team receives the average of the total number of combinations for the positions that they occupy. In 2007, the Minnesota Timberwolves and the Portland Trail Blazers tied for the sixth worst record. The average of the 6th and 7th positions in the lottery was taken, resulting in each team getting 53 combinations (the average of 63 and 43). Should the average number not be an integer, a coin flip is then used to determine which team or teams receive the extra combination(s). The result of the coin flip is also used to determine who receives the earlier pick in the event that neither of the tied teams wins one of the first three picks via the lottery."
Yeah, it's bonkers. Or well, maybe it's not. It's just not going to be good when you face the Boston Celtics in this type of thing. Here are the actual numbers we're working with, now that you can average the probabilities.
So what does this mean? It means the Jazz are giving up a lot, just because they won last night. (And don't get me started on how if they lost last night, and didn't hit that game winner against the Orlando Magic, they'd be #3 right now and we'd all be in a much happier place as fans).
- First of all, the Jazz had 0.0% chance of getting stuck with the 8th pick. Now we do.
- Second, the chance for a Top 3 pick goes from 37.8% down to 33.5, that's -4.3% -- which is a lot when there are 1,000 combinations
- Third, the chance for a Top 5 pick goes down from 82.8% down to 69.1%, that's a drop of -13.8% which is HUUUUUUUUGE
- By the way, had the Jazz gotten that #3 lotto seed their Top 5 status would have been 96.0% (a near lock)
- Both teams (seed 4 and seed 5) tend towards a 5th pick, opening the door for teams to jump them
Oh, but that's not THAT bad, right? No. That's not the bad point yet. The Bad point is that while these values are still okay (3 chances in 9 to be Top 3), the fact is that now you are fighting against the team you are tied against. There's a chance that the 4 lotto seed would have gotten into the Top 3. Yes. But now it could be the Celtics being that one lucky chance against the odds. Had the Jazz lost last night, that would not have been the case.
Worse still, is well, the "coin flip" which is done by weighted probability as well. As in, the luck of the Irish will help out the Celtics here, because they are a historic franchise and we're ultimately forgettable to the NBA head office. The Celtics, on the other hand, gain everything that we lost. They get a +4.3% and +13.8% in the two categories (including the rounding error).
Before tying the Jazz at least had a 1 in 10 shot at "holding serve" and being the #4 seed in the draft order. Now it's a 1 in 20 shot.
So, no playoffs. No extraordinary play from our younger guys. No massive improvement. And now a chance at a 8th pick that wasn't even on the radar two weeks ago when we were flirting with the #3 lotto seed.
KOC, you're our only hope!
The coin flip (tomorrow) doesn't really mean anything because the damage is already done.