Since the first NBA draft lottery back in 1985, teams across the league have needed a little bit of luck to help determine their futures.
According to our research department, the two teams who have received the least help from projected lottery scenarios to the actual results have been the Minnesota Timberwolves and Dallas Mavericks. Dallas has moved down six times, finished in the same spot eight times and have yet to move up and get a higher pick than expected.
Minnesota has moved down in the lottery 11 times, finished in the same spot as their projections nine times and have also never moved up. That gives them a league-worst net movement score of 17 spots lower than what the straight math would have given them. Even when they landed a franchise-changing star in Karl-Anthony Towns, they had the best odds at nabbing the top pick.
Before the 1993 NBA draft, they were projected at No. 2 overall (where they could have picked future All-Stars in either Penny Hardaway or Jamal Mashburn) but they fell to No. 5 overall. They landed Isaiah Rider, who was then traded less than three years later for a conditional draft pick.
Perhaps their worst luck was finishing with the pre-lottery No. 1 position back in 2011 (when they could have had Kyrie Irving), but falling to No. 2 (where they selected Derrick Williams, who’s no longer in the league).
The only other franchises who have never moved up in the lottery are the Denver Nuggets and the Miami Heat. Denver has moved down eight times while finishing in the same spot six times. Miami, meanwhile, has only made eight appearances in the lottery but moved down half of them.
The New York Knicks, however, have had the third-worst help from fate and the lottery ping pong balls. Their total net movement is 10 spots lower than originally expected.
Luck has been on the side of the Philadelphia 76ers, which helped create the roster they have now that was just a few bounces away from earning a trip to the Eastern Conference Finals. The Sixers have had 20 appearances in the lottery, moving down just one time but moving up eight times. They have had a net movement of 19 spots better than expected.
The Oklahoma City Thunder, Charlotte Hornets, Los Angeles Lakers and Cleveland Cavaliers have all enjoyed the good fortune lottery odds can bring as well.
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