Is it possible that another team has worse lottery luck than the New York Knicks?
New York Knicks fans reading this headline are probably rolling their eyes in anticipation of learning that their favorite basketball team has the worst lottery luck in NBA history. But it isn’t true: there is one other team who has dropped more times in the lottery than the Knicks and that is the team who won the lottery last night, the Minnesota Timberwolves.
In a recent study of NBA Draft Lottery performance by FiveThirtyEight.com, New York has dropped from their pre-lottery position 13 times since 1985, which was the miraculous year when they won the lottery to secure the rights to select Patrick Ewing.
The Knicks are tied with Dallas for the second most drops in NBA lottery history.
Minnesota has dropped the most, 15 times, which the article notes is helped by the fact that they have appeared in the lottery 23 times (compared to 18 for the Knicks). Last night, luck finally turned on the Wolves’ side as they moved from third to the top pick in this year’s draft. It was the first time Minnesota has ever moved up in the lottery.
The Knicks have failed to jump in the lottery since 1985
If we were to correct for the number of lottery appearances – perhaps the only redeeming value of the Knicks trading several lottery picks in the past is they have had less appearances to fall backwards – Miami is the unluckiest team, as they have dropped ten of the eleven times they have been included in the annual drawing.
On average, the Knicks pick changes 0.72 in the wrong direction, per Five Thirty Eight, which ranks third worst of any NBA team, behind Miami and Dallas. New York has not jumped in the lottery since 1985.
In a bit of good news, or a reminder of how bad the Knicks have been in the lottery era, their average pick of 6.67 ranks 10th best.
The Knicks entered last night’s drawing with the sixth best odds to land a top pick: they had a 37.2 percent chance of finishing in the Top 4, but also a 54.2% chance of falling back between 7-10. They landed at eight, which had 20.8% odds.