Jayson Tatum

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With NBA lottery approaching, what are odds of Celtics jumping back into top 3?

John Tomase
May 11, 2018 - 11:47 am

The NBA lottery is Tuesday, and unlike a year ago, when the Celtics entered with the best chance at the No. 1 overall pick and then actually landed it, the odds are most definitely not in their favor.

Thanks to last year's pre-draft trade with the 76ers that turned the No. 1 overall pick into No. 3 and a future first-rounder, the Celtics have an outside shot at moving into either the second or third spot when the ping pong balls stop bouncing.

We're talking miniscule odds, however: 2.9 percent.

The C's will receive the Lakers' pick if it lands second through fifth. Because L.A. finished with the 10th-worst record in the league, the pick cannot be fourth or fifth. The only spots it can move into are first (1.1 percent), second (1.3 percent) or third (1.6 percent). If the pick is first overall, it goes to Philly and the Celtics will receive Sacramento's selection next year.

If it's somehow second or third, the C's would be looking at the chance to draft someone like versatile Slovenian forward Luka Doncic, or an impact big man such as Duke's Marvin Bagley, Michigan State's Jaren Jackson, or Texas center Mo Bamba.

But that's getting ahead of ourselves. Much more likely (87 percent) is the pick stays at No. 10 and goes to the Sixers and the Celtics enter the draft with their 27th overall pick.

For the Celtics to leap into the top three will take some serious of luck of the Irish, but it wouldn't be unprecedented. The 1993 Magic entered the lottery with the 11th-best odds and won, taking Chris Webber before flipping him for Penny Hardaway. The 1990 Sonics jumped from 10 to No. 2 and took Gary Payton. The 1999 Hornets leapt from 13th to third and ended up with Baron Davis.

Whatever happens, the trade is already a win for the Celtics. No. 1 overall pick Markelle Fultz never get off the bench for Philly in the conference semifinals, while No. 3 pick Jayson Tatum averaged over 20 a game and scored the winning basket in the decisive Game 5.

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