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Predicting How the 2014 NBA Draft Lottery Will Unfold

Predicting How the 2014 NBA Draft Lottery Will Unfold

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Now that the NBA season is ending, teams know whether they'll be in the playoffs or in the lottery (or in the case of the New York Knicks and New Orleans Pelicans, neither). Only the top three spots get chosen thereafter, and a displaced team simply moves back as many spots as have been changed in the top three. The only possible outcomes are that a team maintains its current pick, ends up in the top three, or is pushed back accordingly.

14. Phoenix Suns (0.5% chance at 1st pick)

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14. Phoenix Suns (0.5% chance at 1st pick)

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The Phoenix Suns, who were considered by many to be a top challenger for the no. 1 pick entering the season, surprised everyone and were in the playoff hunt up until the penultimate game of the season. They ultimately found themselves in the lottery anyway, but not nearly as high as most expected. The 14th spot has the lowest odds of all and rarely moves up the board, so it should be no different this year.

13. Minnesota Timberwolves (0.6% chance at 1st pick)

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13. Minnesota Timberwolves (0.6% chance at 1st pick)

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The Minnesota Timberwolves will miss out on the playoffs once again and find themselves back at the back end of the lottery, which is much like purgatory to the teams that consistently land in this area. One silver lining for the Wolves is that they don't have to forfeit their pick to Phoenix if they lands in the top 13 this season and so, unless the Suns pull the improbable and move ahead of Minnesota, they'll at least get to keep their pick.

12. Orlando Magic (from Denver -- 0.7% chance at 1st pick)

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12. Orlando Magic (from Denver -- 0.7% chance at 1st pick)

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The Orlando Magic get the least favorable of Denver's pick, and it looks as if this pick will end up outside the top 10. With the Nuggets finishing out of the playoffs, the Magic are assured two lottery picks in what's considered a very deep draft. Even if they don't move up from this spot, they should have their pick of a solid prospect.

11. Denver Nuggets (from New York -- 0.8% chance at 1st pick)

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11. Denver Nuggets (from New York -- 0.8% chance at 1st pick)

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The Denver Nuggets acquired this pick from the Knicks in the Carmelo Anthony deal in 2011, and after the Knicks won the Atlantic Division last season, many figured this pick would end up in the 20s. Unfortunately for the Knicks and their fans, everything fell apart in 2014 and they'll be relinquishing a lottery pick to the Nuggets. Stranger things have happened than the team with the 11th-best odds winning the lottery, but it's highly unlikely.

10. Philadelphia 76ers (from New Orleans -- 1.1% chance at 1st pick)

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10. Philadelphia 76ers (from New Orleans -- 1.1% chance at 1st pick)

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Not only do the Philadelphia 76ers figure to have a top five pick of their own in this year's lottery, they also own New Orleans' first-rounder thanks to the draft day trade last season that sent Jrue Holiday to the Big Easy. With this pick, the Sixers figure to add to their already impressive young core, which is composed of Michael Carter-Williams, Nerlens Noel and whomever they land in the top five.

9. Cleveland Cavaliers (1.7% chance at 1st pick)

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9. Cleveland Cavaliers (1.7% chance at 1st pick)

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The Cleveland Cavaliers thought this was the year things would turn around after they beat the odds to land another top overall pick in 2014 and traded for Luol Deng, but they ended up on the outside looking in again. The good news is even if they stay at nine, the Cavaliers should have their pick of a good player who might have gone top-five in any other year. With a draft as saturated with talent as this one, a top-10 pick is very valuable.

8. Detroit Pistons (2.8% chance at 1st pick)

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8. Detroit Pistons (2.8% chance at 1st pick)

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The Detroit Pistons went out and signed Josh Smith to a max deal and traded for Brandon Jennings, but all that earned them was a very expensive lottery ticket, the firing of their first-year coach and the resignation of the man responsible for the roster construction. The new Detroit front office will have to cross their fingers that none of the teams behind them move up because if the Pistons' pick falls below the eighth spot, Charlotte gets it.

7. Sacramento Kings (4.3% chance at 1st pick)

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7. Sacramento Kings (4.3% chance at 1st pick)

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The Sacramento Kings haven't had a lot of luck in past lotteries, so perhaps their luck will change this year and they'll land a coveted spot in the top three. However, with only a 4.3% chance at the first pick, their odds don't seem very good. Luckily for the Kings, they're one of the few teams picking in the top 10 with multiple building blocks, and whomever falls in their lap at this spot will likely give them even more talent to build around.

6. Boston Celtics (8.8% chance at 1st pick)

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6. Boston Celtics (8.8% chance at 1st pick)

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After trading Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce to Brooklyn during the offseason, coupled with Rajon Rondo missing a good deal of the season, the Celtics landing in the high lottery seemed a fait accompli. While Boston got off to a decent start, they quickly devolved into one of the worst teams in the league and have positioned themselves for a top-four pick. However, the ping pong balls can bounce in some funny ways and Boston is out of luck here.

5. Orlando Magic (15.6% chance at 1st pick)

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5. Orlando Magic (15.6% chance at 1st pick)

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The Orlando Magic are still rebuilding from the Dwight Howard trade and although they have some good young pieces, they're still well short on what they'll need to eventually return to contention. The Magic currently have the third-worst record in the league, which would set them up nicely to land one of the top talents in this draft class. But in this scenario, two teams jump them and they fall back to fifth overall. Hey, it could be worse.

4. Philadelphia 76ers (19.9% chance at 1st pick)

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4. Philadelphia 76ers (19.9% chance at 1st pick)

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The Sixers already own two lottery picks thanks to their trade with New Orleans, but this pick is very likely to make or break the Sixers' draft. In the likelihood that this pick ends up being higher than the New Orleans pick, the Sixers can pick no lower than fifth overall. As a result, Philly will likely end up with a potential franchise player, meaning the record-tying losing streak seems to have paid off ... at least thus far.

3. Milwaukee Bucks (25% chance at 1st pick)

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3. Milwaukee Bucks (25% chance at 1st pick)

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The Milwaukee Bucks' 2014 season was an unmitigated disaster. The Bucks brought in several new faces, but what followed was a 15-win season (prior to the Bucks' final game) and the worst record in the NBA. Unfortunately for the Bucks, the team with the highest odds hasn't gotten the top pick since 2004, so they could find themselves disappointed again.

2. Los Angeles Lakers (6.3% chance at 1st pick)

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2. Los Angeles Lakers (6.3% chance at 1st pick)

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The Lakers are strangers to the lottery process as they haven't picked in the lottery since 2005, when they selected Andrew Bynum 10th overall. The Lakers are looking at a top-five pick (depending on the results of the final games of the season), which is their highest pick since taking James Worthy first overall in 1982. The NBA is not used to the Lakers struggling, so it wouldn't surprise many if the ping pong balls bounced their way.

1. Utah Jazz (11.9% chance at 1st pick)

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1. Utah Jazz (11.9% chance at 1st pick)

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The Utah Jazz have been one of the more nondescript franchises in the NBA since John Stockton and Karl Malone retired and more recently, since Deron Williams left town. While they have a nice collection of young players, they're lacking the star that can get them to the next level. While Utah won't pick lower than eighth overall (pending the results of the final games), this is a team that seems like it's due to hit the lottery.