Besides one (fairly major) thing, tonight’s game really didn’t matter much to the Knicks. They do not own their draft pick, so it really doesn’t’ matter to them where they finish. However, it DOES matter to us fans, because, come on, you don’t want the Bulls to get a high draft pick, just due to schadenfreude – the joy of seeing them NOT happy.
Tonight, in beating Charlotte on an Eddy Curry tip-in of a Malik Rose miss, the Knicks tied Charlotte’s record of 33-49.
After the Knicks’ win, the Bulls lost to the Nets, locking the Bulls into the 5th spot in the playoffs, and picking 23rd in the draft (and if the Knicks pick this year is, in fact, protected only before 24 – that is especially cool – that is the fairly major thing, guaranteeing that the Knicks GET a draft pick this year).
Minnesota tanked, and both Portland and Sacramento lost (Portland against the playoff bound Golden State Warriors – which should be an interesting first round series – Nelson against the Mavericks), so the Knicks will be ranked, at the LOWEST, eighth. They are currently tied for eighth with Sacramento and Charlotte. There will be a tie-breaker that will determine if the Knicks are ranked 8th or 9th or 10th, but the thing most of us I presume are worried about are the Knicks’ chances of gaining one of the top three picks in the lottery.
The way the lottery works, there are 1000 possible number combinations for the top three picks. The team with the worst record gets 250 of those combinations. The second-worst record gets 199 and the third-worst gets 159. Those three teams combine for a 60.5% chance of getting the top three picks.
When there is a tie in the standings, each of the teams that are tied get the average of the possible combinations for their spot. For instance, if two teams are tied for 6th, you would take the average of the combinations for the 6th spot and the 7th spot, which would be 53 (63 and 43).
The Knicks are tied for 8th with Charlotte and Sacramento, meaning they will split the combinations for the 8th, 9th and 10th spots. So they have a three-way split of 56. As that does not go evenly into three, there will be a coin-flip to determine which team gets one less combination than the other two. As Jon Abbey so rightly pointed out, that means the Knicks will most likely have 19 combinations out of 1000.
So they will have a 19 out of 1000 ( 1.9% chance) of getting the first pick, about a 2.3% chance of getting the second pick and about a 3.0% chance of getting the third pick.
Compare that with the 63 combinations the Knicks would have received if they had lost (6.3% for the first pick, about 7.0% for the second pick and about 8.0% for the third pick) and Minnesota and Portland had won, and you can see why tonight was, for the first time in awhile, a pretty good night for the Knicks.
And not a great night for the Bulls.