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Is tonight the night the ping pong balls finally fall in the Nuggets favor?
As most Nuggets faithful know, the luck is almost never on our side. The Nuggets streak of bad luck is on full display come draft season, as the Nuggets have turned into one of the worst teams at trying to have the ping pong balls fall in their favor. But, a new year brings new hope, will this be the year the Nuggets finally win the lottery?
Of the 13 seasons in which the Nuggets have participated in the lottery since the switch to 14 teams, not once have the boys in blue moved up. The opposite has actually happened, as in those 13 seasons the Nuggets have actually moved down seven times. The Nuggets had their greatest odds at the number one pick in the 1998 lottery, but wound up losing the lottery and selecting third, where they selected Raef LaFrentz. Another famous lottery night was in 2003 when the Nuggets had the second highest chance of landing the first overall pick, in which they would have undoubtably selected LeBron James. The Nuggets would end up falling down to third though where they selected a forward out of Syracuse named Carmelo Anthony.
Since the 2003 draft, the Nuggets haven’t improved or worsened their draft position. The closest chance they had at moving up came in 2015 when the Nuggets had the seventh pick by virtue of their trade with the Knicks for that’s right, Carmelo Anthony. The Nuggets had a 4.3 percent chance of getting the first overall pick, but ended up staying at seven and selecting what looked to be the teams point guard of the future in Emmanuel Mudiay. That selection didn’t go so well for the Nuggets as Mudiay has since been traded and the teams point guard of the future now lies on the shoulders of Jamal Murray. The 2016 draft was a lucky one for the Nuggets as the guy they wanted fell into their lap at pick number seven, and the Nuggets will be hoping for some more luck come Tuesday night as Murray will be the one representing the franchise for the lottery show in Chicago.
— Chris Dempsey (@chrisadempsey) May 14, 2018
As great as the 2016 draft was, the 2017 draft may go down as one of the worst drafts in franchise history. The team seemed prime to trade pick number 13 for either Eric Bledsoe or Kevin Love, but ended up keeping the pick and selecting Donovan Mitchell. The Nuggets would then trade Mitchell to the Jazz for the 24th pick and the rights to Trey Lyles, where the Nuggets would select Tyler Lydon. Mitchell has since turned into a bonafide superstar and the Nuggets are left with a rotational piece in Lyles, and a major question mark in Lydon.
Photo via: @nuggets
The Nuggets are certainly hoping this years draft will go much more swimmingly, and that starts on Tuesday night. Denver comes into the lottery with just a 0.5 percent chance at the first pick, a 0.59 percent chance at the second pick, and a whopping 0.72 percent chance at obtaining pick number three. That leaves the Nuggets with a 98.19 percent chance of staying exactly where they are, which is pick number 14. Only one team in the lottery history has moved up to the first pick after going into the draft with the lowest odds, and that is the 1993 Orlando Magic. The Magic would select Chris Webber with the first pick and ended up trading Webber to the Golden State Warriors for Memphis State point guard Penny Hardaway.
Photo via: Grantland
That situation turned out pretty good for the Magic, and the Nuggets could have the same situation happen to them if the odds fall in their favor. The names to look out for if the Nuggets land in the top three are international superstar Luka Doncic, Michigan State star Jaren Jackson Jr., and Marvin Bagley III out of Duke. All three would be difference makers on a Nuggets roster that is already stacked with talent. Doncic would be the ideal choice out of the three in my mind as he would be an instant impact guy and has already proven he can do it at an International level, and oh yeah, he’s just 19 years old. Doncic would immediately gives the Nuggets one of the best backcourts in the NBA, and could even open up some trade options for the Nuggets to dangle some of their other backcourt players with the hopes of acquiring a star in return.
— Courtside Films (@CourtsideFilms) May 8, 2018
The Doncic, Bagley, and Jackson talk are all a pipe dream though as we pretty much already know what’s going to happen on Tuesday night. A move up into the top three would be one of the greatest moments in franchise history, but the odds just aren’t in the Nuggets favor. Staying at spot number 14 is the most likely outcome, and it’ll be a spot where the Nuggets will still be able to add an impact player. The real discussion comes with what the Nuggets are going to do if they do stay at 14 and whether or not they have room on the roster for another rookie. With the potential loss of Will Barton, a roster spot could certainly become available, but the Nuggets still may need to consolidate their roster when it’s all said and done.
In what hopes to be a busy summer, some clarity will come on Tuesday night as we’ll finally know where the Nuggets will be selecting in next months draft. The draft lottery show starts at 5:30 MST and will be televised on ESPN. May the odds be ever in our favor.