Like the Bobcats actual chances of making the playoffs, the argument about whether they should even be trying to make them isn’t dead yet either.
I appreciate Rick Bonnell’s steady-handed beat writing on the Bobcats for the Charlotte Observer. But I couldn’t disagree more with his take on the issue, posted on his blog on Monday night after the win over the Bucks. Rick’s words are in italics:
I got an email today from a reader saying I should stop writing about playoff implications and that the Bobcats would be much better off chasing lottery luck.
Wasn’t me, but it might as well have been.
I get that email a lot, and frankly it disregards how the weighted draft lottery works these days. If you’re one of the last teams to reach the playoffs, you have a miniscule chance of a top-3 pick (about a 1 percent chance for each of those picks).
Frankly, I’m not sure Rick is properly regarding the weighted lottery system. (Also, I’ll assume he means “If you’re one of the last teams to MISS the playoffs”, otherwise he really doesn’t understand the system.)
Fortunately, I do understand the system and so can you. It’s all right here on the Wikipedia page for the NBA Draft Lottery. Scroll down about halfway to the “Process” section — the chart is very helpful in understanding.
Currently, the Bobcats have the 10th worst record in the league. With Monday night’s win over the Bucks, it’s looking more and more like we’ll be locked in there to finish the season. The “lottery” is indeed for the top 3 picks. After that, the remaining non-playoff teams are simply slotted back in their order from worst to “best”.
With the 10th worst record, the Bobcats would have a 1.1% chance of winning the lottery for the #1 pick, a 1.3% chance at the #2 pick, and a 1.6% chance at the 3rd pick. Another way of looking at it is that there is a total of a 4% chance of moving up into the top 3 picks. Obviously, the chance that the Bobcats would end up with the 10th pick is overwhelming — 87%.
If the Bobcats could drop down lower than the Bucks (again, unlikely after Monday night) they’d be the 9th worst team. That gets you a 1.7% chance at the #1 pick, 2.0% for #2, and 2.4% for #3. Total 5.1% chance of moving up into the top 3 and 81% chance of sitting tight at the 9th spot.
If the Bobcats really got serious about tanking (it’s really not a dirty word — you can say it) they could pass up the Clippers for the 8th worst record in the league. With that comes a 2.8% chance at the #1 pick, 3.3% for #2, and 3.9% for #3. Total 10% chance at moving up; 72% chance at staying at #8.
Meanwhile the Bobcats would have a far greater chance (about nine percent) of actually moving DOWN in the draft order.
Yes, if the Bobcats finish in with the 10th worst record, they actually have a 8.9% chance of falling back one spot to the 11th pick (and a miniscule 0.2% chance of falling back two spots to the 12th pick) — that 9% chance represents the sum of the chances of teams 11-14 moving up into the top 3, thus bumping the Cats back.
You know what would DEFINITELY bump the Bobcats draft spot back — all the way to the 15th spot? Making the playoffs.
And don’t even try to argue that the difference between #10 and #15 isn’t that big of a deal in this mediocre draft. Not valuing draft picks like that is just the kind of lazy thinking and poor planning that have gotten the Bobcats into the mess they’re in. (Hey, Adam Morrison! He’s awesome in college! 3rd pick, you betcha!!! It’s all a crapshoot anyways!).
Someone a lot smarter than you, I or Rick Bonnell figured out that the average player drafted in the 10th spot is roughly 31% better than the average player drafted in the 15th spot. Scroll about halfway down the page to figure 7 and table 2 and the following discussion for the meat of the article.
In this particular draft, the 10th spot gives you a shot at getting Brandon Knight or Terrence Jones — guys that still have some star potential. At #15, you’re looking at names like Jordan Hamilton, Kenneth Faried or John Henson — guys you’re hoping will carve out a spot in your rotation.
The playoffs are fun, and even if they were clobbered in the first round, the Bobcats would gain experience by participating.
Ahh, the tee-ball argument. Everyone come to the playoffs, its FUN! I disagree, getting swept/exposed/embarrassed by the Magic was not fun last year, and getting swept/exposed/embarrassed by the Bulls this year wouldn’t be any fun either. As far as “gaining experience”, name me a player from last years’ squad who seems to have benefitted from the experience of last year’s playoff sweep.
If you have a young, developing team with most of the big pieces in place, then it’s acceptable to gun for the 7th or 8th playoff spot for “the experience”. Think last year’s Oklahoma City Thunder, or this year’s Memphis Grizzlies. But not the Bobcats — not a team sorely lacking talent that relies on a 33-year-old volume shooter to be its “star”.
You can’t convince me finishing ninth in the East is better than finishing eighth.
Agree to disagree, then?
And you sure don’t want to send the message to players that losing is ever better than winning.
Completely agree with this. It’s a very delicate issue and probably the strongest argument against tanking. My only counter is to say that this probably underestimates the intelligence/maturity of the players. They aren’t in a Disney movie; they know better than anyone that their squad needs an influx of talent to seriously compete.
Treat injuries conservatively and shift minutes to younger players who need the burn anyways. The players save face while the losses mount. As long as the locker room chemistry is good (supposedly the case with the Bobcats) there are probably not going to be any serious negative ramifications from a few extra losses to end the season.
Until next time, I’ll be “chasing lottery luck”.