It seems almost unfathomable, but the Boston Celtics have a shot at a top-three NBA Draft pick for third consecutive season. They’ll need a lot more luck this time around, though.
The Celtics swung a 2017 draft night trade with the Philadelphia 76ers that not only netted them Jayson Tatum, but also set them up to receive the Los Angeles Lakers’ 2018 first-round pick if it falls between No. 2 and No. 5.
We’ll find out where L.A. will pick Tuesday night at the 2018 NBA Draft Lottery, but the moment, that seems like an extreme long shot. The Lakers, who finished with the NBA’s 10th-worst record, have just a 1.3 percent chance of landing the No. 2 pick and a 1.58 percent chance at the No. 3 pick.
They have a zero percent chance of netting the Nos. 4 or 5 picks, which means Boston has a 2.88 percent chance of landing a top-three pick Tuesday night.
The most realistic scenario is that Philly gets L.A.’s 2018 first-rounder, likely at No. 10 overall. But there’s still good news for the Celtics if that happens, as Boston would get the Sacramento Kings’ first-round selection in 2019, as long as it’s not the No. 1 overall pick.
A change to the NBA’s Draft Lottery rules could help the Celtics in that regard, as the league will adopt a new lottery format in 2019 that gives no team more than a 14 percent chance to land the No. 1 overall pick.
Put another way, if the C’s don’t secure the Lakers’ 2018 pick, they’ll have at least an 86 percent chance of acquiring the Kings’ 2019 pick.
Boston still will have a presence in Chicago for Tuesday’s lottery in the off chance of a miracle: Team president Rich Gotham will be in the main stage area, while assistant general manager Mike Zarren will be in the drawing room.
But don’t worry, Celtics fans: The lottery starts at 7:30 p.m. ET and should end in plenty of time for Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Finals at TD Garden.
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