Lot­tery odds fac­tor­ing in?

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

South Florida Sun-Sentinel (Sunday) - - Gameday - Ira Win­der­man iwin­der­[email protected] sun­sen­tinel.com. Fol­low him at twit­ter.com/ira­heat­beat or face­book.com/ira. win­der­man

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.

JESSE D. GARRABRANT/GETTY

Could (or should) the Mi­ami Heat again find a seat at the NBA draft lot­tery?Still on pa­ter­nity leave when team­mate Josh Richard­son tossed his sneaker into the crowd dur­ing the loss to the Los An­ge­les Lak­ers, even­tu­ally fined $25,000 by the NBA, Heat guard Dwyane Wade said he con­soled Richard­son upon his re­turn. “I just told him, ‘Wel­come to the $25,000 fine club. You’ve made it, son. And we’ve all been there be­fore. So just move on.’ “Wade had been fined $25,000 by the NBA at the start of his 2016-17 ten­ure with the Chicago Bulls for a throat-slash­ing ges­ture af­ter drain­ing a de­ci­sive 3-pointer against the Bos­ton Celtics. Wade said it was dif­fi­cult to be away amid the Heat’s freefall. “It’s very tough. You watch J-Rich throw his shoe, you know the frus­tra­tion,” he said. “And that’s what los­ing brings and it’s un­for­tu­nate that you can’t be there. I would rather be in the locker room when they’re los­ing, be­cause that’s the time we all get to look each other in the eye and tell each other, ‘Hey, it’s go­ing to be all right.’ “

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