The Whiteboard: 2020 NBA Draft Lottery karmic odds

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The 2020 NBA Draft Lottery takes place Thursday night, and the odds for all 14 teams are already set in stone.

But what about fate? What about justice? What about rewarding the teams who deserve the No. 1 overall pick compared to the freeloaders that show in the draft lottery year after year?

In the pursuit of poetic justice, we’re assigning draft lottery odds to all 14 teams based solely on karma (as determined by yours truly). How well they’ve drafted recently, how competent an organization they are, how good their cores are, how intelligent they’ve been with their moves and how well they played this year all factor in, and the numbers must add up to 100 percent.

Without further ado, here are karmic odds for each team in the 2020 NBA Draft Lottery (with their real odds included in parentheses).

Golden State Warriors: 20% karmic odds
(14.0% odds for No. 1, 52.1% odds for top-4, 47.9% odds for No. 5)

The Warriors are tied for the best odds for the No. 1 pick in real life and in our karmic odds. Do they need the No. 1 pick with Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green set to be healthy next season? No. But considering they just ripped off one of the greatest stretches in NBA history, and that they had last year’s title and their entire 2019-20 campaign snatched away by an injury bug infestation, no one can deny the positive karma they’re owed now.

Cleveland Cavaliers: 0% karmic odds
(14.0% odds for No. 1, 52.1% odds for top-4, 47.9% odds for No. 5-6)

Y’all have had four No. 1 picks over the last 17 years, got LeBron James for two separate stints and only have one Larry O’Brien trophy to show for it. The free handouts need to be over. Just stop.

Minnesota Timberwolves: 2% karmic odds
(14.0% odds for No. 1, 52.1% odds for top-4, 47.9% odds for No. 5-7)

Y’all traded for the Cavaliers’ worst two No. 1 overall picks, Andrew Wiggins and Anthony Bennett. Until recently, you’ve failed to put adequate talent around Karl-Anthony Towns. D’Angelo Russell is on board now, but barring a last-minute sale of the team to Kevin Garnett to boost the karmic rankings, that number stays where it’s at.

Atlanta Hawks: 8% karmic odds
(12.5% odds for No. 1, 48.1% odds for top-4, 51.9% odds for No. 5-8)

We respect teams that draft well. The jury’s still out on De’Andre Hunter and Cam Reddish, but Trae Young and Kevin Huerter were undeniable hits. This season wasn’t quite the step forward that we were expecting, but the Hawks are another fun, young team deserving of another high lottery pick. Just not that high.

Detroit Pistons: 3% karmic odds
(10.5% odds for No. 1, 42.1% odds for top-4, 57.9% odds for No. 5-9)

Honestly, this number should be lower given the state of the roster. Detroit’s best (healthy) player is about to be a free agent! But we’ve got to give the Pistons some love for all their horrible decisions over the last few years, if only because we feel sorry for the depressed fanbase with a brand-new arena that’s always empty.

New York Knicks: 10% karmic odds
(9.0% odds for No. 1, 37.2% odds for top-4, 62.8% odds for No. 6-10)

This number is disturbingly high for a franchise owned by James Dolan, but the NBA is a better place when the Knicks are good. It is what it is. And after missing out on Zion Williamson last year, despite being tied for the best odds of receiving the No. 1 pick (not to mention missing out on, like, EVERY major free agent despite having all that cap space), getting LaMelo Ball to New York would be a fun reward to try and make up for last year’s debilitating stroke of bad luck.

Chicago Bulls: 10% karmic odds
(7.5% odds for No. 1, 31.9% odds for top-4, 68.1% odds for No. 7-11)

The Bulls have got a new general manager, fired the league’s worst head coach and seem intent on fresh blood. We haven’t seen a high lottery pick thrill the Windy City since Derrick Rose, and before that, Michael Jordan. This franchise has been as unstable as any in recent years, but what can we say? It’d be pretty neat to hand this young core and the No. 1 overall pick over to whoever gets the coaching gig.

Charlotte Hornets: 3% karmic odds
(6.0% odds for No. 1, 26.2% odds for top-4, 73.8% odds for No. 8-12)

Michael Jordan the player, you’re my favorite! Michael Jordan the owner, it’s hard to root for your Hornets to get the No. 1 pick given how badly the NBA Draft has gone for you. Just a few names to make you shudder real quick: Michael Kidd-Gilchrist (No. 2), Cody Zeller (No. 4), Noah Vonleh (No. 9), Frank Kaminsky (No. 9) and Malik Monk (No. 11). Blech.

Washington Wizards: 4% karmic odds
(4.5% odds for No. 1, 20.2% odds for top-4, 79.8% odds for No. 9-13)

The Wizards need to blow it up, but they refuse to budge on moving Bradley Beal. So these four percentage points are strictly for Beal, just so he and John Wall don’t have to carry this team through another brutal season in 2020-21.

Phoenix Suns: 17% karmic odds
(3.0% odds for No. 1, 13.9% odds for top-4, 86.1% odds for No. 10-14)

It seems too soon for a team that had a No. 1 pick just two years ago and passed on Luka Doncic to have such high karmic odds, but the Suns and their fanbase have been miserable for a decade now. They went 50 years as a franchise without a No. 1 pick or a championship, despite being one of the NBA’s all-time winningest teams (until recently). And Devin Booker put up with a lot of unfounded “empty calories” talk as he played with a bunch of G Leaguers for five years. After watching this young group go a perfect 8-0 in the bubble and still miss the play-in game, despite the first signs of tangible hope since the days of Steve Nash, they deserve more positive momentum. The Suns franchise has been chaotic for years, but the Suns using this pick to add LaMelo Ball as their point guard of the future would be like a miracle oasis in the middle of the desert. We want it to happen.

San Antonio Spurs: 10% karmic odds
(2.0% odds for No. 1, 9.4% odds for top-4, 90.6% odds for No. 11-14)

The Spurs get 10 percent karmic odds solely because of their epic 22-year run of making the playoffs that finally came to an end. The last time they were in the NBA Draft Lottery, they got freaking Tim Duncan. However, as much as winning teams deserve good things, y’all also need to settle down a bit. That historic run was unprecedented for a reason, so the basis for not making San Antonio’s karmic odds even higher is simple: WELCOME TO THE FATE EVERY OTHER NBA FRANCHISE EXCEPT YOU HAS HAD TO SUFFER AT SOME POINT IN THE NEW MILLENNIUM.

Sacramento Kings: 3% karmic odds
(1.3% odds for No. 1, 6.1% odds for top-4, 93.9% odds for No. 12-14)

Maybe this is a tad harsh. The Kings have actually drafted fairly well in recent years, adding De’Aaron Fox, Buddy Hield and Bogdan Bogdanovic to their young core. They also went with Marvin Bagley over Doncic and have the league’s worst playoff drought. These fans deserve better, and hopefully they’ll get better now that Vlade Divac is gone, but you don’t get to be in the draft lottery for 14 straight years and NOT get penalized for it.

New Orleans Pelicans: 1% karmic odds
(1.2% odds for No. 1, 5.7% odds for top-4, 94.3% odds for No. 13-14)

The Pelicans got Zion Williamson last year. As if that weren’t enough, they have an exciting young core and will get a new head coach soon. Just be thankful you even get to add any sort of lottery pick to this group, because this team should’ve been competing in the playoffs.

Memphis Grizzlies: 10% karmic odds
(0.5% odds for No. 1, 2.4% odds for top-4, 97.6% odds for No. 14)

Would the Grizzlies have held onto that 8-seed if the regular season had played itself out? We’ll never know. But this team has drafted exceptionally well in recent years (Ja Morant, Jaren Jackson Jr., Brandon Clarke) and made savvy moves (De’Anthony Melton, Jonas Valanciunas) to deserve good things. They totally fell apart in the bubble, but adding a high lottery pick (especially after Jackson’s depressing injury) would be a nice reversal of recent woes … even if LaMelo Ball and the No. 1 pick don’t make as much sense with Morant already in tow.


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