The Boston Celtics reportedly were one pingpong ball away from a miracle at the NBA Draft Lottery.
We’ll spare you all the contingency/protection mumbo-jumbo and just tell you that the Celtics had a 3.7 percent chance of landing a pick in the 2-4 range. Boston, which owned the Sacramento Kings’ pick so long as it wasn’t first overall, entered Tuesday night with the greatest odds of securing the No. 14 pick, the last spot in the lottery.
The Celtics wound up with the No. 14 pick, while the New Orleans Pelicans nabbed the top spot and a likely marriage with phenom Zion Williamson. But Danny Ainge, Mike Zarren and Co. were excruciatingly close to jumping 10 spots and locking up a top-five pick.
We’ll do you another solid and avoid smashing you over the face with the particulars of how the draft lottery works. What’s important is that four balls, each numbered 1-14, are drawn to determine where each team will draft. Unlike the Powerball, teams don’t need to match specific numbers; rather, multiple combinations can yield the same results.
When it came time to determine the No. 4 pick, the first three pingpong balls bounced the Celtics’ way, assistant general Mike Zarren told reporters, including The Boston Globe’s Adam Himmelsbach.
“There was a chance for us to come in,” he said.
All the Celtics needed to land the No. 4 pick was for the final ball to have been a 10, 12 or 14. Instead, a No. 7 was drawn, resulting in the fourth pick going to the Los Angeles Lakers.
All in all, it was a so-so night for the Celtics.
The good: They have three picks in the top 22 (14, 20, 22), and the Memphis Grizzlies landed inside the top eight, meaning Boston still has a shot at landing the No. 1 overall pick in 2021.
The Bad: The Pelicans might have enough to convince Anthony Davis to stay, the Lakers have more assets to dangle in a potential Davis trade and the No. 14 pick, which a year ago seemed bound to land in the top five, is just whatever.
“My general thoughts are this is an unsurprising outcome for us,” Zarren said, via Himmelsbach. “It’s a lottery and we knew what the odds were going in. The most likely outcome was 14, but you look at that trade and we got the guy we wanted, and now get the 14th pick. I think we all would have signed up for that then.”
The 2019 NBA Draft will go down Thursday, June 20 at Barclays Center in Brooklyn.
Thumbnail photo via Patrick Gorski/USA TODAY Sports Images