Bucks Diary

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Bucks got screwed by a bunch of Utes

Thanks to Utah, what seemed so possible after Tuesday night became extremely remote just two nights later. The Bucks will never get Greg Oden or Kevin Durant. The sooner we deal with that, the better we'll all be.

Here's how it all went wrong. The Bucks are currently tied for the third worst record in the NBA. On Tuesday they seemed poised to secure it against all comers. They quit on Terry Stotts in the most dramatic way. They packed it in for the season. It was such a definitive capitulation, in fact, that it was possible to imagine them losing nearly every remaining game. And so, all they had to do was ride the Stotts magic and close the season with a splatt, and they had some good odds of landing one of the big boys. Then Utah decided to pursue Larry Krystkowiak.

Because of that the Bucks had to fire the one man uniquely qualified to help them stumble their way to a shot at potential greatness, and hire a man who looks determined to prevent that. Thanks Utah.

Unlikely to achieve the necessary number of losses

To have anything like a decent shot at one of the two, you have to finish in the bottom four (I expound on that below). But with Krystkowiak at the helm, there is little chance the Bucks will finish anywhere near the bottom four. The players seem to genuinely like the guy (did you see the postgame hugfest?) and will probably play out the season with passion because of it. And when you combine that with the incredibly easy, home-laden schedule the team has in front of it, you have to conclude the Bucks will have an extraordinarily difficult time losing even a majority of their remaining games. Sound crazy? Just look at what's coming up.

Of the 18 remaining games, only two are absolutely unwinnable (at Houston; at Dallas), three are difficult but very doable (vs. Detroit; vs. Washington, vs. New York), three are home games against good teams who are declining rapidly (vs. LAC; vs. Orlando; vs. Indiana), one may be a default game (at Cleveland on the last day of the season); and the remaining seven are against the dregs of the NBA (3 Charlotte; 2 Boston; 2 Atlanta). If we assume no unforeseen changes of circumstance, and if we assume an acceptable-to-intense effort level for Coach K, I don’t see a hell of a lot of losses on that list. In fact, conceivably, the Bucks could clean house. If the foregoing assumptions hold, I would be shocked if they lost even a bare majority of the remaining games.

And that’s why they have no shot at Durant or Oden. The Bucks are bunched closely with about six other teams vying for that third worst spot (Memphis and Boston have the two worst spots well sewn up). Thus, any kind of winning stretch would likely bump the Bucks out of the running for third, and land them around 8th or 9th worst. And as a mathematical proposition, any team that wishes to have a reasonable shot at drafting Durant or Oden must finish in the bottom four. After that the odds of landing a top two spot become pretty remote.

Here’s a breakdown: The team with the worst record has a 46.5% chance of landing one of the two picks; the team with the second worst record has a 38.7% chance of landing one of the two; the team with the third worst record has a 28.0% chance; and the team with the fourth worst record has a 27% chance. After that, your odds fall all the way down to 18% at fifth and decline rapidly from then on. So, unless you're in the bottom four, you're shooting at rainbows anyway.

Being in the bottom four isn't that great

Being one of the bottom four teams in the NBA lottery is like being one of those guys in a craps game who bets without knowing the odds. For the bottom four teams, the lottery is actually a grossly unfair wager.

All the lottery does is it provides the better non-playoff teams a slim chance of moving up to a better pick than their record dictates. And the collective price for those individually slim chances is paid by the four worst teams. The better teams, in essence, are given a chance to steal one of the top 3 spots from their rightful owners, the teams with the three worst records. And if any of those spots is stolen, it pushes everybody back. The net effect, because of the number of non-playoff teams in the lottery drawing, is that the most likely lottery result for each of the bottom four teams is that they will fall two whole spots down from their rightful drafting spot. Let me give an example to clarify.

Let’s say Memphis finishes with the worst record. Equity says that they should have the top pick. And while it is true they have the best shot at the top spot (25%), it is actually much more likely they will end up in the 4th spot (35%)! The same holds for every team from 1 through 4. Each of them is most likely to land in a spot at least two picks behind their rightful spot. (By the 5th pick you’re most likely to stay where you are, with that likelihood increasing steadily as you go up the picking order). So, in reality, finishing in the bottom four is a bit of a fool’s gamble, most clearly so for the two worst teams (all they are getting from the lottery is a chance at losing their rightful spots in the top two).

For all of the foregoing reasons, I have quietly and begrudgingly resigned myself to the fact that, in the inimitable words of Rick Pitino, “Kevin Durant is not walking through that door. Greg Oden is not walking through that door.” I have therefore suspended “20 Spins” and retired Bango’s Big Board. Part of me still blames it all on the Utes, though.


At March 17, 2007 at 1:30 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Forget that anyway. So if they finish 3rd-worst, there's a 28% chance at one of the top two? They had the 6th-worst record when they got Bogut for better or worse, Toronto 5th-worst last year (Orlando had the worst record to get Dwight Howard three years ago)?

If this guy K has any shot (say 29% for no good reason) at figuring out Charlie V alone, it'll be better than that crapshoot, or the 3rd pick and lower for sure.


At March 17, 2007 at 1:36 PM, Anonymous paulpressey25 said...

Great post. I agree, we are doomed now for our chances at Oden/Durant.

But, I'm actually pretty excited to get either of the Wrights (Brandan or Julian) or the Florida boys (Horford and Noah). My bigger fear is that we fall out of the top five or six and end up with "Marcus Haislip" at pick #9.

And before anyone says "Hey, the Suns drafted Amare at #9" remember that was before the new NBA draft age limit they imposed this year. Had that rule been in effect, Amare would have ruled the NCAA's for one year, before coming out and being the number one or two guy drafted.

It was one hell of a confluence of events, between Bogut's bird, the boycott by season ticket holders this week along with Herb favorite Larry K. threatening to go to Utah. That perfect storm seems to have done us in for the high lotto.

I'm just hoping like heck we can hold on for Noah or Horford at the least.


Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home