"So, you're telling me there's a chance?"
If only everyone in Denver could have the eternal optimism of Jim Carrey in the classic movie, "Dumb and Dumber".
In the 2017 NBA Draft lottery, the Nuggets do have a chance of getting a top 3 pick. In fact, they could even get the No. 1 pick.
But, it would be smart to not get your hopes up when turning on the television Tuesday night.
At 6:30 p.m. MT, the NBA will hold its annual lottery show to determine which order the non-playoff teams (like the Nuggets), and the teams that hold their draft rights will select players in the 2017 NBA Draft--which takes place June 22.
It's like the draft for the draft. 14 teams have a chance of earning a top 3 pick, and the teams with worse records have better odds for the higher picks, and hopefully, the better players. Only three teams are chosen in the lottery for a top 3 pick, and then the rest of the order (picks 4-14) is determined in the reverse order of a team's record during the season. Still with us? Basically, the worse your record, the higher your chances of having a good pick in the draft.
The process itself of picking the winners--which is determined by a bunch of bouncing ping pong balls numbered 1-14--is somewhat complicated (okay, really complicated). It's actually done in an uber-secret private room, before the three winners are announced on television. There are 1,000 possible combinations of numbers, and the teams with the worse records have a higher number of combinations working in their favor. The team with the worst overall record has 250 possible combinations, meaning it has the greatest chance of securing the No. 1 overall pick at 25 percent.
Phew, enough of that.
So, what does that mean for the hometown Denver Nuggets? Well, nothing good.
The Nuggets are stuck in this seemingly helpless mathematical bubble. Of all the teams that didn't make the playoffs this year, they had the second best record overall (40-42).
Now, this is good in the sense that the Nuggs were on the cusp of making the postseason all year. But, the bad news: they didn't. And now, they probably need a whole lot of luck Tuesday night if they want a franchise-changing player in the draft.
Essentially, by having the second best record of the lottery teams, Denver has the second worst odds of getting a No. 1, or even a top 3 pick in the draft.
You want to talk percentages? The Nuggets have a 2.2 percent chance of sliding into the top 3, and a horrendously low 0.6 percent possibility of earning the top overall pick. Out of the 1,000 possible combinations, just six would give Denver the No. 1 pick.
Cue Jim Carrey.
The last time the Nuggets had a top 3 pick was 2003, when they chose Carmelo Anthony No. 3 overall. But, there was no luck involved there. The previous season, they had finished tied with Cleveland for the worst overall record in the NBA. Actually, if luck was on Denver's side in the lottery that year, the franchise could have had the No. 1 pick and taken Lebron James. And if that happened, we might not even be talking about the lottery right now. We'd probably be too busy getting ready for the Lebron-led Denver Nuggets to take on the Golden State Warriors in the Western Conference Finals. (It's fun to dream, right?)
Going into this year though, the Nuggets don't have much in the way of statistics to give them hope of getting miraculously lucky. Not only are the percentage chances miniscule, but history is even worse. Since the current weighted lottery system started in 1990, no team with the 13th best odds or worse has ever won the top pick.
The closest that scenario has ever come to happening was in 1993, when the Orlando Magic were awarded the No. 1 overall pick after having the 11th best odds of any team.
So all in all, it's time to be realistic. The Nuggets will leave tonight with the 13th overall pick in the draft in June.
But, if you're sitting eagerly on the edge of your seat at 6:30 Tuesday night in your Nikola Jokic jersey, hoping that the Nuggets can steal the No. 1 pick and take the next Lebron James, more power to you. After all, there's a chance.