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What’s at stake for the Celtics at the NBA Draft lottery?

Last year, the Celtics got the third overall pick at the lottery.
Last year, the Celtics got the third overall pick at the lottery.Charles Krupa/AP/File

A day after the Celtics’ postseason fate is decided against the Wizards in Game 7 of the conference semifinals, the franchise will find out its 2017 NBA Draft fate.

Since the Brooklyn Nets finished with the league’s worst record, the draft lottery poses an opportunity for Boston to secure the first overall pick, a position it has not been in since taking Chuck Share first overall in 1950, though Share never played for Boston.

Celtics co-owner Wyc Grousbeck will be the team’s representative on stage at the lottery, and co-owner Steve Pagliuca will be behind the scenes to witness the drawing. It will be Grousbeck’s first time representing the club on stage, a duty guard Isaiah Thomas took on last year, donning a green tie and carrying a baggie of green Lucky Charms in his suit jacket pocket.


Grousbeck will have a lucky charm with him, but it won’t be of the edible variety.

“My only good-luck charm in my life is my 2008 championship ring,” he said, “so I’ll be wearing that.”

Here is how the lottery works, best- and worst-case scenarios for the Celtics, and a look at the top prospects:

When is it?

Date and time: Tuesday, 8:30 p.m.


Where: New York

How does the lottery work?

Of the 30 teams in the league, 14 qualify for the lottery while the other 16 qualify for the playoffs. Fourteen Ping-Pong balls are tossed into the lottery machine, numbered 1-14. One thousand four-number combinations are doled out to the 14 teams. The team with the worst record has the most combinations (250) and highest chance of securing the top pick. The team with the second-worst record has the second-most combinations (199) and the second-highest chance of securing the top pick — and so on down through the 14th slot.

Game of chance A look at the number of combinations and chances at the top three picks for the 14 lottery teams.
Seed Combinations % chance at 1st pick % chance at 2nd pick % chance at 3rd pick
Team 1 250 25.00% 21.50% 17.80%
Team 2 199 19.90% 18.80% 17.10%
Team 3 156 15.60% 15.70% 15.60%
Team 4 119 11.90% 12.60% 13.30%
Team 5 88 8.80% 9.70% 10.70%
Team 6 63 6.30% 7.10% 8.10%
Team 7 43 4.30% 4.90% 5.80%
Team 8 28 2.80% 3.30% 3.90%
Team 9 17 1.70% 2.00% 2.40%
Team 10 11 1.10% 1.30% 1.60%
Team 11 8 0.80% 0.90% 1.20%
Team 12 7 0.70% 0.80% 1.00%
Team 13 6 0.60% 0.70% 0.90%
Team 14 5 0.50% 0.60% 0.70%

When teams have the same record — like New York and Minnesota — the average of the teams’ odds are used. If the average includes a decimal, a coin flip determines which team rounds up its odds. If none of the teams land in the top three, that coin flip determines the order in which they pick.


Hitting the lottery? The record, combinations, and percentage chance at the top pick for this year's 14 lottery teams. The tie-breaking procedure was followed since Minnesota and the NY Knicks had the same record.
Team Record Combinations % chance at 1st pick
Brooklyn (To Boston) 20-62 250 25.00%
Phoenix 24-58 199 19.90%
LA Lakers 26-56 156 15.60%
Philadelphia 28-54 119 11.90%
Orlando 29-53 88 8.80%
Minnesota 31-51 53 5.30%
NY Knicks 31-51 53 5.30%
Sacramento 32-50 28 2.80%
Dallas 33-49 17 1.70%
New Orleans 34-48 11 1.10%
Charlotte 36-46 8 0.80%
Detroit 37-45 7 0.70%
Denver 40-42 6 0.60%
Miami 41-41 5 0.50%

The balls are mixed in the machine for 20 seconds before the first number is selected. Ten seconds elapse between each number selection. Once four numbers are drawn, the No. 1 pick is assigned to the team that owns that number combination. Rinse and repeat for Picks 2 and 3.

A team cannot win more than one pick in the top three. If a team’s number combination is drawn more than once, the process repeats until a different team wins.

Once the first three picks are awarded, Picks 4 through 14 are assigned based on record — the team with the worst record getting the fourth pick and so on.

See all 250 of the Celtics’ winning lottery combinations here.

What is the best-case scenario for the Celtics?

The Celtics own the Nets’ first-round pick as a result of the July 2013 trade that sent Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce to Brooklyn. The choice has a 25 percent chance of being the top pick and a 64.3 percent chance of being a top-three pick. The top pick would be an unusual boon for a team that has the chance of advancing to the Eastern Conference finals.

What is the worst-case scenario for the Celtics?

The Brooklyn pick cannot fall past No. 4, so the worst-case scenario is that the Celtics wind up with the fourth pick, unless they trade it. Here are the odds for the Celtics landing each of the top four picks:



What will the Celtics do?

Grousbeck said last week the club likes “a bunch of guys” in the draft.

“In fact, they like four guys or more in this draft, and so that may even take a little bit of the pressure off the lottery,” he said.

It’ll likely be mum’s-the-word from the Celtics on whom specifically they would select if they secure the top pick. Though they’re in need of rebounding and rim-protecting support, it would be hard to pass on Washington guard Markelle Fultz, whom the front office interviewed at the combine last week, or UCLA guard Lonzo Ball.

Along with a guaranteed top-four pick, the Celtics also have three second-round picks to spend. Whether they work out a trade — which they have not done in the last few draft cycles despite sitting on a pile of picks — remains to be seen.

Here’s a look at some of the top prospects and where they fall among draft experts’ rankings:

■   Markelle Fultz, point guard, Washington

Ted S. Warren/AP

Age: 19. Height: 6-4. Weight: 195.

DraftExpress prospect rank : 1. The Vertical mock draft : 1. CBS Sports prospect rank : 1.

Stat line: 23.2 PPG, 5.7 RPG, 5.9 APG, .476 FG% (25 games)

Briefly: At 6-4, this rangy point guard possesses the ball an awful lot. His stat-page stuffing isn’t enough to make his team any good.


Read up: Breaking down Fultz’s pull-up . . . The Ringer’s Kevin O’Connor scouted Fultz in person when Washington played Arizona last month . . . “He’s doing things as a freshman that most guys in the [NBA] don’t learn until their second or third year,” said UCLA great Don MacLean. “He’s incredible.” . . . Fultz is your dream point guard prospect come to life, says The Ringer’s Jonathan Tjarks.

■  Lonzo Ball, point guard, UCLA

Age: 19. Height: 6-6. Weight: 190.

DraftExpress: 2. The Vertical: 2. CBS Sports: 3.

Stat line: 15.4 PPG, 6.1 RPG, 7.6 APG, .555 FG% (27 games)

Briefly: At 6-6, he sees the entire floor easily. He leads the nation in assists per game and makes everyone on the floor better without having to hog the ball. Maybe not the best defender.

Read up: The hitch in Ball’s shot may affect his NBA future . . . Ball wants to generate more than hype . . . Ball’s long ball is one of the best things in college basketball.

■   Josh Jackson, small forward, Kansas

Age: 20. Height: 6-8. Weight: 203.

DraftExpress: 3. The Vertical: 3. CBS Sports: 2.

Stat line: 16.5 PPG, 7.0 RPG, 3.1 APG, .501 FG% (29 games)

Briefly: He plays the entire floor, inside and outside, offensively at 6-8 while also possessing a high IQ on the defensive end. Fits into a team concept.


Read up: Here’s one part of Jackson’s game that shouldn’t be overlooked . . . Kansas freshman asserts himself more and more . . . Jackson’s track to stardom depends on how he addresses his biggest flaw.

■   Jayson Tatum, small forward, Duke

Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

Age: 19. Height: 6-8. Weight: 204.

DraftExpress: 4. The Vertical: 4. CBS Sports: 4.

Stat line: 16.1 PPG, 7.3 RPG, 2.2 APG, .442 FG% (21 games)

Briefly: He can make plays that bring fans out of their seats and can have some jaw-dropping individual efforts, such as his 21-point half in a victory at Virginia. When he doesn’t have the ball in his hands, he can disappear.

Read up: On a big stage, Tatum proves how much Duke can rely on him . . . Tatum could make Blue Devils unbeatable in March . . . Duke shows it can thrive, with Tatum accepting new role.

■   De’Aaron Fox, point guard, Kentucky

Age: 19. Height: 6-4. Weight: 171.

DraftExpress: 5. The Vertical: 6. CBS Sports: 8.

Stat line: 15.5 PPG, 4.2 RPG, 5.3 APG, .459 FG% (27 games)

Briefly: As quick as any player in the country with a basketball in his hands; no one can keep up with him. However, he isn’t the best shooter, hitting just 17 percent of his 3-pointers.

Read up: Fox draws comparisons to John Wall . . . Fox: “It’s just me and the goal, and I hit them all.

■  Jonathan Isaac, small forward, Florida State

Age: 19. Height: 6-11. Weight: 205.

DraftExpress: 8. The Vertical: 9. CBS Sports: 5.

Stat line: 12.8 PPG, 7.3 RPG, 1.0 APG, .531 FG% (26 games)

Briefly: He’s skinny but athletic, with great leaping ability. His potential is great but he is not a dominant player right now.

Read up: Isaac is an elite NBA prospect hiding in plain sight . . . Isaac uses his early years and family for motivation.

■  Lauri Markkanen, power forward, Arizona

Age: 20. Height: 7-0. Weight: 225.

DraftExpress: 6. The Vertical: 8. CBS Sports: 7.

Stat line: 15.6 PPG, 7.5 RPG, 1.0 APG, .495 FG% (29 games)

Briefly: Sort of a European exception because he’s a burly 7-0, 225. But like most Euros, he shoots well from outside.

Read up: Thousands of miles from his native Finland, Markkanen feels at home in Arizona . . . Markkanen and the plane ride that may land Arizona in the Final Four . . . The Finnish 7-foot sniper.

■  Dennis Smith Jr., point guard, North Carolina State

Gerry Broome/AP

Age: 19. Height: 6-3. Weight: 195.

DraftExpress: 9. The Vertical: 7. CBS Sports: 6.

Stat line: 18.7 PPG, 4.3 RPG, 6.3 APG, .461 FG% (30 games)

Briefly: Much like Washington’s Fultz, his great talent has not made his team better, but he has had some spectacular individual performances.

Read up: The legacy of Dennis Smith Jr . . . Smith is making unbelievable the norm . . . With NBA scouts watching, Smith needs to find consistency.

■   Malik Monk, point/shooting guard, Kentucky

Age: 19. Height: 6-4. Weight: 185.

DraftExpress: 7. The Vertical: 5. CBS Sports: 9.

Stat line: 21.5 PPG, 2.5 RPG, 2.4 APG (29 games)

Briefly: A streaky shooter. But when he’s on target, he’s explosive, such as his 47-point effort against North Carolina. He can disappear but is capable of going off at anytime.

Read up: Monk’s stat line turns heads in a new way . . . When Monk is on, it’s game over . . . The rivalry that turned Monk into Kentucky’s next star . . . How Monk’s Arkansas roots led him to Kentucky.

Order, order

Here is the draft order for the remainder of the first round:

15. Portland

16. Chicago

17. Milwaukee

18. Indiana

19. Atlanta

20. Portland (via Memphis, via Denver and Cleveland)

21. Oklahoma City

22. Brooklyn (via Washington)

23. Toronto (via LA Clippers, via Milwaukee)

24. Utah

25. Orlando (via Toronto)

26. Portland (via Cleveland)

27. Brooklyn (via Boston)

28. L.A. Lakers (via Houston)

29. San Antonio

30. Utah (via Golden State)

Here is the second-round draft order:

31. Atlanta (via Brooklyn)

32. Phoenix

33. Orlando (via L.A. Lakers)

34. Sacramento (via Philadelphia, via New Orleans)

35. Orlando

36. Philadelphia (via New York, via Utah and Toronto)

37. Boston (via Minnesota, via Phoenix)

38. Chicago (via Sacramento)

39. Philadelphia (via Dallas)

40. New Orleans

41. Charlotte

42. Utah (via Detroit)

43. Houston (via Denver)

44. New York (via Chicago)

45. Houston (via Portland)

46. Philadelphia (via Miami, via Atlanta)

47. Indiana

48. Milwaukee

49. Denver (via Memphis, via Oklahoma City)

50. Philadelphia (via Atlanta)

51. Denver (via Oklahoma City)

52. Washington

53. Boston (via Cleveland)

54. Phoenix (via Toronto)

55. Utah

56. Boston (via LA Clippers)

57. Brooklyn (via Boston)

58. New York (via Houston)

59. San Antonio

60. Atlanta (via Golden State)

Adam Himmelsbach and Joe Sullivan contributed to this report. Follow Rachel G. Bowers on Twitter @RachelGBowers.