Kings' 2017 NBA Draft Lottery scenarios: Best case, worst case, most likely

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Kings' 2017 NBA Draft Lottery scenarios: Best case, worst case, most likely

Programming note: Watch the Kings NBA Draft Lottery show with Jim Kozimor and Jon Wilson tonight at 5pm, streaming live right here.

The anticipation is excruciating. Hope springs eternal. Reality is brutal. It’s Draft Lottery night 2017.

It’s complicated. That is the only way to describe the Sacramento Kings 2017 NBA Lottery that will unfold on Tuesday evening. Usually the night consists of nothing more than a bunch of ping pong balls in a hopper and a wall of numerical possibilities. Sacramento can only dream of that scenario.

The Kings cannot receive the top overall selection. Through a combination of two possible picks, they can land at two, three, five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten, eleven, twelve and thirteen. They can also lose both of their selections in this year’s draft and come away with nothing, but the odds of that are almost statistically impossible.

Here is a quick primer on the situation. For those who do not understand the lottery process, there are 14 ping pong balls, numbered 1-14 that are put into a hopper. Four balls are drawn at a time, creating one of 1,001 possibilities. One of those possibilities is removed from the equation, leaving 1000 potential outcomes. The 14 teams that missed the playoffs are given a specific number of those 1000 possibilities, depending on their record for the 2016-17 season.

The worst team in the league, the Brooklyn Nets in this case (although their pick is owed to the Boston Celtics), have 250 of the potential 1000 combinations. The Miami Heat, who finished the season 41-41 and barely missed the playoffs have just five combinations in play.

Only the top three selections are drawn and the remainder of the draft goes in order according to record. The worst case scenario for the Nets (besides the one that has already played out with the Celtics owning their pick), is that they fall from the top spot to the fourth overall selection.

It’s a lot more confusing when it comes to Sacramento. They currently own the eighth (28 total numerical combinations) and tenth (11 numerical combination) most combinations in the lottery, but it’s still more complex than that.

The eighth overall selection has a 2.8 percent chance of landing No. 1 overall, a 3.3 percent chance of landing No. 2 and a 3.9 percent chance of landing the third overall pick. Unfortunately for Sacramento, the Philadelphia 76ers, who currently sit in the fourth position in the lottery (119 numerical combinations), have the right to swap picks with the Kings from a trade consummated in 2015.

If the Kings land the top overall selection, the Sixers will take the pick and their selection (2, 3, 5, 6 or 7) goes directly to Sacramento. If Philly lands a better pick than Sacramento, the pick swap goes unused and is extinguished moving forward.

In addition to the 76ers quagmire, there is an extremely small chance that three teams ranked lower than Sacramento (Dallas, Sacramento (yes, their second first round selection can hurt them), Charlotte, Detroit, Denver and Miami) move ahead of them in the draft lottery. In this scenario, the Kings would fall to the 11th overall selection and their pick would go to the Chicago Bulls as part of the nightmare J.J. Hickson trade from 2011. If this worst case scenario does not play out, the Bulls get the Kings second round selection (38th overall).

There are also restrictions on the tenth overall spot that Sacramento currently occupies. The Kings received a 2017 top three protected selection from the New Orleans Pelicans as part of the DeMarcus Cousins trade. If the Pelicans somehow land a top three pick, they retain the selection and the Kings receive a Top 1 protected pick from New Orleans in either 2018, 2019 or 2020.

New Orleans selection has a 1.1 percent chance of landing the top spot, a 1.3 percent opportunity of landing No. 2 and a 1.6 percent shot at No. 3. There is an 87 percent chance that the Pelicans remain at No. 10. There is also an 8.9 percent chance they drop to 11 and a .2 percent chance of they fall to 12 and less than a .1 percent chance they select at the 13th overall spot.

Best Case Scenario

In a dream world, the 76ers land the top overall pick, Sacramento nabs the second overall selection and the Pelicans pick stays at No. 10. Kings draft at No. 2 and No. 10 and are able to add two quality players.

A similar scenario, but one that leaves the Kings wondering “what if,” Sacramento lands the top pick, Philly lands the second overall selection (swaps) and the Pelicans stay at 10. This has the same outcome as scenario one, but with a little bit of egg on the Kings’ face.

Worst Case Scenario

Both picks go away. The odds of it happening are miniscule, but the possibility remains that three teams move above the Kings, including the Pelicans. In this horrific scenario the Kings lose both their own pick (to Chicago) and the Pelicans pick (because it’s top 3 protected).

There are plenty of other unfortunate scenarios for the Kings. They could land a top three spot and Philly could land at No. 7 and swap. Any combination of the Pelicans moving into the top three is bad, although the Kings would likely get New Orleans pick in 2018.

Most Likely Scenario

The odds are in favor of Sacramento retaining their own pick which will likely fall at eight or nine. It is also very likely (96 percent chance) that New Orleans will fail to move up and remain at No. 10. In this scenario, the Kings drafty at 8/9 and 10 and avoid a rough night.  
 

With gaping holes to fill, 2017 NBA Draft offers Kings several options

With gaping holes to fill, 2017 NBA Draft offers Kings several options

The Sacramento Kings walk into the 2017 offseason with gaping holes in their roster. Free agency will play a role, but before they get to spending their $60-plus million in cap space, Vlade Divac, Scott Perry, Ken Catanella and the rest of the front office will try to fill some of their needs via the draft.

While the first batch of draft prospects rolled through Sacramento late last week, Vlade Divac, along with European scout Predrag Drobnjak spent the weekend in Istanbul, Turkey at the European Championships. Sharpshooting guard Bogdan Bogdanovic led Fenerbahçe to its first title, further building the hype around one of Europe’s best young stars.

Divac acquired the rights to Bogdanovic in a draft day trade last summer when the 6-foot-6 Serbian was tossed in along with picks 13 and 28 for the 9th overall selection in the 2016 NBA Draft. Divac would love to entice the 24-year-old wing to play in the NBA next season.

Even if Bogdanovic buys in, the Kings need more.

Both Darren Collison and Ty Lawson are unrestricted free agents, leaving Langston Galloway as the only point guard on the roster. Rudy Gay has already informed the team that he intends to opt out of his $14.3 million player option for next season, opening a massive need at the small forward position.

The needs are clear. Sacramento has to find a point guard and small forward of the future. They also need a point guard and a small forward of the right now. If a player fits both now and in the future, so be it.

Lady luck shined brightly on the Kings during the draft lottery. A move from No. 8 to No. 3 would have guaranteed a point guard, but a pick swap to No. 5 still has Sacramento in the running to fill one of their biggest voids.

While plenty of mock drafts have a variety of players in the top five of the 2017 NBA Draft, there is a clear group that Sacramento will likely focus on. Barring a major trade, point guard Markelle Fultz out of the University of Washington is projected to go with the first overall selection, but then it’s wide open how the next four picks will unfold.

UCLA’s Lonzo Ball is projected to go to the Los Angeles Lakers at No. 2 in most mocks, but nothing is a sure bet. Small forwards Josh Jackson and Jayson Tatum are top five selections as well, while Kentucky point guard De’Aaron Fox is an early draft climber.

Sacramento would love nothing more than to see Fox sitting on the board when they select at five. He’s slight of build, but the 6-foot-3 speedster is a high character player with tons of potential. He would step in and instantly compete for a starting job with the Kings’ young core.

There are concerns that Fox won’t make it to five and the Kings have a few options if they want to move up, but the real question is, should they?

If Fox is gone, Sacramento will still have a player on the board at a position of need. Be it Ball, Jackson or Tatum, the talent pool is rich. Finding a floor general is important, but finding a star should be the top priority. All five have potential to become more than just a starter in the league and all five fit one of the team’s two most glaring weaknesses on the current roster.

Drafting either Jackson or Tatum would instantly bump the talent level of the team. Both are considered top tier prospects and for Sacramento, likely starters on Day 1.

Jackson is a catalyst type player and personality that brings energy, as well as a tremendous skill set. He can pass, rebound, play defense at a high level and score above the rim. He’ll be an instant fan favorite wherever he lands.

Tatum has potential as a two-way player, but his offensive game should instantly translate to the NBA level. A polished scorer, Tatum would step in and give the Kings a scoring option to fill the shoes of Gay, who is on the verge of becoming an unrestricted free agent.

The Top 10 has plenty of other high end prospects. Sacramento could chase a shooting big in Lauri Markkanen. The 7-footer out of Arizona would help to stretch the floor at the four, but their other needs are more obvious.

Fox’s backcourt mate at Kentucky, Malik Monk, is also an intriguing player, but with Buddy Hield, Garrett Temple, Malachi Richardson and the potential for Bogdanovic to join the team, the Kings are heavy at the shooting guard spot.

Point guard Dennis Smith has a high ceiling and would likely challenge for top five consideration if it wasn’t for a torn ACL in high school and some questions about his attitude.

If Sacramento selects a small forward with the fifth pick and Smith was still available when they choose again at No. 10, he becomes a lower risk proposition the Kings might have to consider.

Point guard Frank Ntilikina out of France would fit the bill as well in the right situation. If the Kings land Jackson or Tatum at five, they could come back with Ntilikina at 10. He’s young and inexperienced, but he also stands at 6-foot-5 with a 7-foot wingspan. His defensive potential at the point is tremendous, but he is a project on the offensive end, not a polished player like the four point guards expected to go ahead of him in the draft.

Combo forward Jonathan Isaac is an appealing prospect, but he’ll need plenty of time to develop and he’s a better target if he somehow slips to 10. Like Smith and Ntilikina, this would be a nice addition if the Kings fill their other need with the fifth overall selection.

Regardless of how they got to No.’s 5 and 10, the Kings are in a good spot. They have options and plenty of players at positions of need and there is potential to land a future star. Once the draft rolls around on June 22, the focus will quickly shift to shoring up the remainder of the squad. With two high picks, the potential addition of Bogdanovic and plenty of cap space, the Kings are primed for a big time roster overhaul this summer.

Joerger: Rebuilding Kings hope to make the playoffs in...

Joerger: Rebuilding Kings hope to make the playoffs in...

The Kings' playoff drought is at 11 years and according to head coach Dave Joerger, it's going to last a few more years.

Speaking on Sirius XM NBA Radio on Tuesday, Joerger was asked about the differences between his coaching gigs with Sacramento and Memphis, and outlined the Kings' timeline for reaching the postseason.

"It's different. It's been a great learning experience for me. It's going to be an interesting process. You know, three years from now we hope to be in the playoffs. And so how do we do that? We were just talking about Memphis and it's the same thing. So if you're management, there's a couple times a year, two or three times that are really hot. Trade deadline, draft, free agency, boom, boom, boom. We're in Memphis sitting there getting 50 wins a year. Okay, maybe the trade deadline came and went, maybe we got a guy, maybe not, not too stressful. Get the 23rd, 24th pick in the draft," Joerger said.

"It's different now. In this situation, it's a higher pick, now free agency has a little bit more focus on it. So how we execute in free agency, how we execute our draft picks and how we execute at the trade deadline as this thing builds, you try to go too fast, you can make mistakes. But I think slow and steady wins the race," Joerger concluded.

So Kings fans can look forward to the 2019-20 season when the team returns to the playoffs.

Joerger is at the helm of a Kings team that is in full rebuild mode. The team traded center DeMarcus Cousins during the All-Star break and turned the team over to several first and second-year players. They posted a 32-50 record during the 2016-17 season, good for a third-place finish in the Pacific Division.

The Kings hold the No. 5, 10 and 34 picks in the upcoming 2017 NBA Draft and will add to their stable of young players.