Just like the previous seven years, the Denver Nuggets will not have a selection in the 2011 NBA Draft Lottery. And for the last eight years, the Nuggets have not selected in the first 14 picks because they had Carmelo Anthony, whom they selected with the third overall pick in 2003, help them to the playoffs (though playing in only seven of eight after his trade to the Knicks in February)
So on Tuesday night, the Nuggets front office will wait with all the other playoff teams to see if the Minnesota Timberwolves win the first overall selection. Unlike the MLB and NFL drafts that base draft order on records, the NBA Draft conducts a lottery-style drawing for the teams that did not make the playoffs. As Pro Basketball Talk explains:
There are 14 balls in a lottery machine, with the numbers 1-14 on them — that means there are 1,001 potential combinations that can come out (order does not matter), and 1,000 of those combinations are assigned to teams. Then the machine pulls out four balls and the team with that combination gets the first pick. That process is repeated two more times for the second and third picks, after that the draft goes in order of record from worst to first.
The Minnesota Timberwolves had the worst record in the league this past season, so they 250 number combinations (or a 25 percent chance) to receive the top pick. The Cleveland Cavaliers have the second best chance at 20 percent, while the Houston Rockets have the lowest chance at 0.5 percent (full breakdown in the above link).
In 2010, the Washington Wizards won the lottery with the fifth-worst record, while under the current system the Chicago Bulls obtained the top pick in 2008 with the ninth-worst record. Under a different system involving 66 chances, the Orlando Magic had one chance since they had the best record among non-playoff teams. They picked up the No. 1 selection for a second year in a row.
There is no clear-cut top pick this year, though freshman Duke point guard Kyrie Irving is considered the front-runner for the top pick. But if the Timberwolves hold the top pick, they may not want to draft another point guard after getting burned on Jonny Flynn and Ricky Rubio in the 2009 draft. Arizona forward Derrick Williams should receive consideration for the top pick as well.
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