Lot­tery odds fac­tor­ing in?

As De­cem­ber ap­proaches, time for Ri­ley, Heat to con­sider play­ing for NBA draft

South Florida Sun-Sentinel Palm Beach (Sunday) - - SPORTS - iwin­der­[email protected] sun­sen­tinel.com. Fol­low him at twit­ter.com/ira­heat­beat or face­book.com/ira. win­der­man JESSE D. GARRABRANT/GETTY

CHICAGO – There was a point amid the Heat’s Jimmy But­ler trade dis­cus­sions when fans in the east end zone of Amer­i­canAir­lines Arena tele­pho­toed im­ages of Heat Pres­i­dent Pat Ri­ley and Gen­eral Man­ager Andy Elis­burg with their court­side mon­i­tors tuned to a Min­nesota Tim­ber­wolves game.

Now the ques­tion is whether the next set of pho­tos on so­cial me­dia show those mon­i­tors fo­cused on Duke bas­ket­ball.

Be­cause win­ter is com­ing, the un­ex­pected losses al­ready are here, and the NBA draft lot­tery looms.

No, this is not the Heat dis­cus­sion ex­pected in late No­vem­ber 2018, but nei­ther were the losses to the Or­lando Magic, Char­lotte Hor­nets, At­lanta Hawks and Brook­lyn Nets.

In some precincts, the NBA race to the bot­tom al­ready has been dubbed Tryin’ for Zion. In oth­ers, it could be­come Bot­tom­ing for Bar­rett or Col­laps­ing for Cam.

And that’s just tak­ing into ac­count what Mike Krzyzewski’s Duke Blue Devils of­fer with Zion Wil­liamson, R.J. Bar­rett and Cam Red­dish.

At least at the top, the 2019 NBA draft ap­pears as stout as any in re­cent years.

But this also is a sea­son of change, and for more than the Heat’s un­ex­pected first­month flop.

As part of the re­vi­sion adopted by the NBA Board of Gov­er­nors a year ago, the lot­tery math has changed. The race to the bot­tom now means only hav­ing to race to third worst, with the lot­tery par­tic­i­pants with the three worst records all given an equal chance at the No. 1 pick, at 14 per­cent.

Be­yond that, the first four se­lec­tions, in­stead of the first three, now will be drawn in the ran­dom-butweighted process. What that means is that the team with the league’s worst record now could fall to No. 5 in the process, where the pre­vi­ous worst-pos­si­ble drop was to No. 4

In pre­vi­ous lot­ter­ies, the No. 1 seed had a 25 per­cent chance of get­ting the No. 1 pick, with the No. 2 seed at 19.9 per­cent and No. 3 at 15.6. Now it’s 14 per­cent across the board for those three seeds.

Ul­ti­mately, bad-as-bet­ter will re­main the theme for those that have fallen and can­not get up.

In fact, if any­thing, the league’s re­vi­sion may make the NBA more tank wor­thy, since all that is needed for the best odds is the league’s third-worst record, not the depths the Philadel­phia 76ers ac­cepted amid The Process.

And that could make the in­cen­tive stronger for late com­ers, teams that aren’t ready for a lot­tery re­al­ity at the mo­ment, but might change their minds within weeks, de­pend­ing on the bar set by cur­rent bot­tom run­ners Cleve­land, At­lanta and Phoenix.

As a mat­ter of per­spec­tive, 24-58 was good enough (bad enough?) for the No. 3 lot­tery seed last year. In 2017, it took 26-56. But in 2016, it re­quired

21-61.

In most sea­sons, out­side of the depth (heights?) that Sam Hinkie took the 76ers amid The Process, the race to the bot­tom would hap­pen or­gan­i­cally.

Cer­tainly not as much a fo­cus in No­vem­ber or De­cem­ber.

But un­de­ni­ably a fo­cus in March and April, if not ear­lier.

That could give the Heat time to see how this all plays out, to see if there not only is such a thing as Dion Waiters but also such a thing still with Philly Cheese swag.

And yet, capped out un­til 2020 -- out­side of the long­est of long­shots that Has­san White­side, Go­ran Dragic and Tyler John­son opt out of their con­tracts af­ter this sea­son -- there is some­thing to be said about air­lift­ing a Wil­liamson, Bar­rett, Red­dish into the mix in 2019, per­haps as the lure to an al­pha free agent in 2020.

Un­til Tues­day night against the Nets, it all had seemed too pre­pos­ter­ous. It sim­ply is not what the Heat do.

And then re­al­ity stared back in the face -- no mat­ter where the fo­cus was on the mon­i­tors along the east base­line at Amer­i­canAir­lines Arena.

Al­ready, the odds have be­come longer for the Heat to ac­com­plish any­thing tan­gi­ble in the stand­ings this sea­son.

Which is why it is not too early to at least fa­mil­iar­ize with the new lot­tery odds, as well with what Coach K has brew­ing in Durham.

Could (or should) the Mi­ami Heat again find a seat at the NBA draft lot­tery?

Ira Win­der­man

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.