The NBA draft lottery is next Tuesday and the Mavs are hoping for some luck they haven’t had before to retain their pick.

The NBA draft is in 6 weeks, but to get there we need to go through the infamous draft lottery on Tuesday. All the losses and all the talk of the future and potentially get more concrete come Tuesday. The Mavs are not guaranteed a first-round draft pick thanks to the draft night trade a year ago that netted us Luka Doncic. While no Mavs fan is regretting that trade, we now have to deal with the fallout. The Mavs are slated to give up their first-round pick to Atlanta UNLESS the Mavs acquire a top 5 pick, then we keep it 1 more year.

Well, if things go chalk and the Mavs stay where they currently are, at 9th overall, the pick will convey to Atlanta and the Mavs get to sit until the 37th pick in round 2. However, the lottery odds to move up have changed a good deal this year, so the Mavs have a slim chance to retain their pick.

Lottery Changes

The NBA has decided to discourage teams from tanking for the bottom of the standings by reorganizing the lottery odds to be spread more evenly than ever before. For example, just last year, the 1st overall team had a 25% chance at landing the 1st pick, but this year, they only have a 14% chance. This 14% chance is also the same chance that the 2nd and 3rd overall team have, which is how the league is discouraging tanking. All of the odds are spread more evenly down the line. In the Mavs’ case, sitting at 9th, the team has a 6% chance of landing the top pick in the draft whereas the 9th seed would only have a 1.7% chance to land it the year prior.

Additionally, the Mavs being in 9th have the same odds as the two teams above them at 7 and 8. These odds changes also benefit the Mavs greatly in their effort to retain their top 5 protected pick. It should be noted that the Mavs cannot move into 5th place, only into the top 4 the way the lottery works. So, they would have a 26.2% chance of moving from 9th to 4th, whereas last year it would have been a 6.1% chance at top 3. So while 9th doesn’t guarantee the Mavs anything on lottery night, it does look a lot better than previous years.

Past Lotteries

Speaking of previous years, the Mavs are hoping that their historically bad luck changes with the ping pong balls this year. Last year, we had the 3rd best odds and dropped to 5th once the night was over causing the great Dirk Nowitzki to chunk his remote at his TV. (And it’s best not to think about how the team would have been able to draft Luka outright if we had stayed at 3, rather than having to trade up with Atlanta to get him at 3 along with this year’s first rounder. Just don’t think about it.) And while we’re on the subject of luck or lack thereof, the Mavs are due for a change.

In the past 33 years of the Dallas Mavericks franchise, the Mavs have NEVER moved UP in draft position. They’ve either stayed put or dropped in position (including the times they had the 1st position pre-lottery) each of the 15 times they’ve had a lottery pick per this chart from


On the night of the lottery, the Mavs will have a new representative in person to change some of this bad luck: Mavs CEO Cynt Marshall. While the team has been represented at the lottery the past 2 years by front office member and former Maverick great Michael Finley, the team is hoping that their new CEO can turn their draft luck around like she did the Mavs business operations this year. While mostly a symbolic position, Cynt will head to Chicago and use her positive thinking to will the ping pong balls to go the Mavs’ way.

After the Lottery

The lottery can really only end one of 2 ways: either the Mavs move into the top 4 and retain their pick this year OR they do not move up and convey their pick to Atlanta. Retaining the pick this year gives the front office another chip to gamble with. They can either keep the player in a top 1 kind of draft OR attempt to trade the pick to a team that wants them and net a player they like far more. However, if they do keep it, they must still convey their pick to Atlanta next year and move the picks for Porzingis further down the road 1 more year. There is even the possibility that the Mavs work a deal to convey the pick to Atlanta EVEN IF they get it just because of the depth of this draft. Retaining the pick also would let the Mavs know what their true cap number for this offseason will be as salaries for top 4 players will range from $4.5-$7M, which will eat into the Mavs’ free agent cap space.

The actual draft will take place on Thursday, June 20th and right now that’s most exciting for our early second-round pick at No. 37. Should the lottery finally go the Mavs’ way for once, it will get more exciting.
We’ll know in less than a week and the true chess of the offseason can begin.

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