Bulls would have better odds in next year's anti-tanking draft lottery format


At first, it appeared the Bulls dodged a gut punch by scheduling Season 1 of their rebuild in the final year before NBA draft lottery changes kicked in.

By not being as bad as expected, it turns out the Bulls would fare better under the future format.

This is the 25th and final year of the familiar NBA draft lottery routine, where the worst team gets a 25 percent chance at the top pick. This lottery format lasted longer than the Buffalo Braves, New Orleans Jazz and Rochester Royals combined.

But too much tanking forced a change. Next year, the three worst teams will have a 14 percent chance at the top pick.

That's not the only change in the draft lottery world. The NBA takes the show on the road for the first time, holding Tuesday's event in Chicago at the Palmer House Hilton.

The Bulls finished tied with Sacramento for the sixth-worst record after sitting most of their regulars and veterans late in the season. The Bulls won the coin flip, so they'll pick ahead of the Kings if neither team moves into the top three, but they split lottery chances equally. The Bulls and Sacramento will each have a 5.3 percent chance at the top pick. Next year in the new format, the sixth-worst team will get a 9 percent shot at landing the No. 1 pick in the draft.

The No. 6 slot has won the lottery twice in 24 years -- Milwaukee in 2005 (the Bucks picked Andrew Bogut) and Portland in 2007 (the Blazers regrettably chose Greg Oden over Kevin Durant).

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Four other times, the No. 6 team moved up to choose second or third. Oddly enough, all six instances of the No. 6 team moving up happened between 2003 and 2011.

Ten years ago, the Bulls beat longer odds to win the 2008 draft lottery and select Derrick Rose with the No. 1 pick. The Bulls were the ninth-worst team that year and faced 1.7 percent odds of winning.

That's the most lottery luck any team has had in the current format. Cleveland also jumped from ninth to first in 2014, just before LeBron James returned to the Cavaliers.

The largest jump any team has made in this format was Charlotte going from 13 to 3 in 1999. Otherwise, no team lower than No. 9 has ever moved into the top 3. The team with the worst record has won the lottery the past three years.


The Bulls will try a different tactic with representation this year. President and COO Michael Reinsdorf will be on stage in front of television cameras and his son Joey will be in the backroom where the ping pong balls are drawn.

t's important for the Bulls to draft well this year because, with the team likely to improve, their picks figure to only get lower, although the new lottery format could work in their favor.

There isn't an obvious grand prize at the top of this year's draft. At this point, the first two players selected could be Arizona center DeAndre Ayton and Real Madrid shooting guard Luka Doncic.

Duke forward Marvin Bagley III and Michigan State forward Jaren Jackson Jr. seem like the leaders at No. 3 and 4. If the Bulls stay at No. 6, they'll likely choose between a couple of small forwards, Missouri's Michael Porter Jr. and Villanova's Mikal Bridges, or a big man like Duke's Wendell Carter Jr. and Texas' Mo Bamba.


Bulls vice president of basketball operations John Paxson talked about the team's draft needs the day after the regular season ended.

"We need to look at the wing position," he said. "That would be an ideal spot. Size and length at the wing, a shooting component, a defensive component would be something that if you're looking at an area we would like to improve, that would be it.

"But depending on where we draft, it's hard to overlook talent, even when you're looking at maybe a specific need."

The Bulls also have the No. 22 pick in the June 21 NBA Draft, acquired from New Orleans in the Nikola Mirotic trade.

Twitter: @McGrawDHBulls


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