Last year I wrote a pissed-off mock draft after the NBA Lottery was drawn. This year I just turned my TV off and left my house. Not surprisingly, neither the Warriors nor Kings moved up, but that’s nothing new. And fortunately, the talent this year is so dreadful, that it’s not like I feel like they’ll be missing out on anyone. But it just never ceases to amaze me how the NBA Lottery can defy mathematics nearly every year. I really thought Stern was going to throw the Kings a bone this year, but I should have known better. The Lottery left me scratching my head though, and wondering two things: One, what were the odds of winning for the team that won the lottery each year? and Two, how many times in the last 15 years or so has a Northern California team moved up into the top three? The only time that comes to mind was 2002 when the Warriors got Mike Dunleavy at #3. (I have since gone back and discovered that they tied Chicago for the worst record in the league that year, but Houston got the #1 pick to take Yao, so the W’s actually moved DOWN). With all this curiosity in mind, I’ve decided to go back year by year and see who got the #1 pick, and how amazing it was that they got there….
2011 – Cleveland. They finished with the second-worst record, but won the lottery with a pick that had less than a 3% chance.
2010 – Washington. Tied for 4th worst record
2009 – Clippers. Tied for 2nd worst record
2008 – Chicago. Jumped 8 other worse teams to land hometown star Derrick Rose.
2007 – Portland. Jumped 6 worse teams to assume the Greg Oden burden.
2006 – Toronto. 5th worst record
2005 – Milwaukee. 6th worst record
2004 /2003 – Orlando and Cleveland actually had the worst records in those years.
2002 – Houston. 5th worst record
2001 – Washington. 3rd worst record in a terrible draft
2000 – New Jersey. 7th worst record
1999 – Chicago. 3rd worst record.
1998 -Clippers. 3rd worst record.
1997 – San Antonio. 3rd worst record.