How the 4th Seed in the NBA Lottery has Fared

The NBA draft lottery is set to take place on May 19, 2015 and most teams at the bottom (or top depending on how you see it) of the lottery are starting to settle into their spots. 

The Los Angeles Lakers have clinched no worse than the 4th spot and are still mathematically alive to move up to as high as the 2nd but the scenarios involved in that happening are very unlikely so it is safe to say at this point that the Lakers will go into the lottery as the 4th seed.

The 4th seed comes with an 11.9 percent chance of landing the number one overall pick in the draft and 37.8 percent chance of taking any of the top 3 spots. The Lakers would just love to keep their pick and not hand it over to the 76ers a condition which is part of the Steve Nash trade that took place in 2012. The Lakers must stay in the top 5 in order to keep their top 5 protected pick and the odds look good on that happening as it would take two teams with lower odds to leap over them and land in the top 3 for that to happen.

The odds are just result of a mathematical formula that tells us the probability of something occurring. In terms of what has actually occurred might tell a different story.

The following is how the number 4 positioned team in the NBA lottery has fared over the last 25 years which is the duration that the current lottery system has been in place.

Draft History of 4

In the last 25 years of the NBA lottery the 4th seed has fallen out of the top five 4 times which equates to 16 percent of the time. The 16 percent is nearly spot on to the mathematical probability of 17.2 percent of that occurring. The scary part for the Lakers is that this has occurred twice in just the last 5 years.

A 4th seeded team pre-lottery has won the top pick only twice (8 percent) but has won one of the top 3 picks 8 times which equals 32 percent, just slightly lower than the mathematical probability of 37.8 percent.

Landing a top 3 pick in this year’s draft would put you in the very advantageous spot of selecting the coveted pool of prospects Jahlil Okafor, Karl-Anthony Towns, D’Angelo Russell or Emmanual Mudiay.

If you look over the history you do see that some teams that were in the 4th spot in the lottery don’t always fare well when actually selecting their pick but much of that can be with a team simply making the wrong pick which is why I included the next best available player at that point of the respective draft.

The Lakers brass has shown a knack for making the right pick over the last few years, most recently selecting Jordan Clarkson with the 46th pick in the 2014 NBA draft; therefore, the chances of whomever the Lakers take with their pick in the upcoming draft becoming the next Nikoloz Tskitishvili is extremely low.

Writer & NBA fan who’s been hooked since the days of Magic v Bird. Love basketball debates without it ending in a knife fight. My BBall nickname: “Todo El Dia” (All Day.) Hit me up on Twitter @fullcourtfern or Instagram: @raining3sdotcom