With Houston owning one of the NBA’s worst records, the 2022 playoffs are already off the table for the Rockets. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t plenty to still watch for as the 2021-22 campaign winds down.
Until the regular season’s conclusion on April 10, we’re regularly updating where the Rockets stand in relation to their closest competitors in the race for 2022 NBA draft odds and positioning.
Houston owns two picks in this year’s first round: Their own, and one from Brooklyn. For purposes of these updates, we’re going to focus on teams (at the time of publication) within three games in either direction of both the Rockets and Nets in the standings.
After a second straight season at the bottom of the West, will the Rockets land another elite prospect such as Chet Holmgren, Jabari Smith or Paolo Banchero for their troubles? Scroll on for the latest updates as of March 10, along with information on odds and tiebreaker scenarios.
Lottery Race Update: In a game they absolutely should have lost, Orlando strayed from what they don't do well — but Jalen Green goes nuclear on the whole game plan. Standings:
1. Orlando 17-50
2. Houston 17-49
3. Detroit 18-48
4. Oklahoma City 20-46
5. Indiana 22-45
— ClutchFans (@clutchfans) March 10, 2022
Wednesday’s most relevant results (March 9)
It is beneficial to the eventual landing spot of both picks for teams in proximity to Houston and Brooklyn in the standings to win. The reverse is true when it comes to each team’s results, since the best-case outcomes for draft odds and slots arise from having a worse record.
With that in mind, here’s the teams to focus on, as of March 10.
Wednesday’s games involving any of those teams:
Celtics 115, Hornets 101
Bulls 114, Pistons 108
Bucks 124, Hawks 115
Rockets 139, Lakers 130 (OT)
Magic 108, Hornets 102
Raptors 119, Spurs 104
Clippers 115, Wizards 109
Thursday’s most relevant games (March 10)
Teams within three games of Houston: Magic, Pistons
Teams within three games of Brooklyn: Wizards, Hawks, Hornets, Clippers, Raptors
Thursday’s games involving any of those teams:
Nets at 76ers (6:30 p.m. CST tipoff)
Updated March 9 standings for Houston’s pick
Houston’s current draft placement plus teams within three games:
1. Orlando, 17-50
2. Houston, 17-49
3. Detroit, 18-48
With both teams winning on Wednesday, the Rockets stay a half-game behind the Magic for the No. 1 odds spot in the 2022 NBA draft. However, they remain tied in the win column, which is most important since losing is inherently more likely in a competition between teams in the basement. What happens if it finishes in a tie? More on that later.
What happens if it ultimately finishes in a tie? More on that later.
Updated March 9 standings for Brooklyn’s pick
Brooklyn’s current draft placement plus teams within three games:
12. Washington (lottery), 29-35
13. Atlanta (lottery), 31-34
14. Charlotte (lottery), 32-35
15. Brooklyn, 33-33
16. Los Angeles Clippers, 35-33
17. Toronto, 35-30
The Wizards (margin of 3.0 games), Hawks (1.5) and Hornets (1.5) are slightly in front of the Nets in current draft positioning. Ultimately, all three of the Hawks, Nets and Hornets are tracking to play in the East play-in tournament for the playoffs, with the results of that determining who picks in the lottery and who goes later in the first round. The Clippers (1.0) and Raptors (2.5) are just behind Brooklyn.
Draft lottery odds, without ties
This chart applies to Houston’s pick, as well as Brooklyn’s if they miss the Eastern Conference playoffs. The NBA’s current lottery system involving the 14 non-playoff teams draws for the first four picks by weighted odds (with the worst teams having better odds), and the 10 teams who are not drawn are then slotted by record from No. 5 to No. 14.
Note that while the top-four odds are identical for the bottom-three teams, there is a significant difference when it comes to floor scenarios. The team with the worst record cannot fall below No. 5 overall. The team with the third-worst record can drop to the No. 7 pick.
— Bulls Scripted (@BullScripted) November 3, 2018
Frequently asked questions
What happens if there is a tie? Tied lottery teams split their draft lottery odds evenly. For example, if Houston and Oklahoma City tie for the No. 3 seed, or the third-worst record, the combined odds between No. 3 and No. 4 would then be split down the middle. Consider it 3.5.
However, a random coin flip would also be held to determine which team drafts higher in scenarios where neither team is a lottery winner. Head-to-head results between any tied teams are not considered.
What happens if Brooklyn goes on a deep playoff run out of a low seed? This is a fair question, since part of Brooklyn’s underwhelming season is due to injuries involving key players along with the part-time availability of Kyrie Irving due to New York City’s COVID-19 vaccine mandate. It’s possible some or all of those problems might be resolved by the playoffs, which could make the Nets more dangerous than their record might suggest.
However, unlike the NFL, results in the playoffs cannot change a team’s draft spot in the NBA. Even if the Nets were to somehow win the NBA championship out of the No. 8 seed, their draft pick (headed to Houston) would be solely based on their regular-season record.
Remaining strength of schedule, as of March 10
A higher strength-of-schedule number means that team has a harder remaining schedule, which on paper suggests that they are more likely to lose games. If that occurs, it could lead to superior draft positioning in a “race” with competitors who have easier schedules.
Rockets and teams within three games:
Houston: No. 21 in the NBA
Orlando: No. 24
Detroit: No. 14
Nets and teams within three games:
Washington: No. 22
Charlotte: No. 18
Atlanta: No. 29
Clippers: No. 4
Brooklyn: No. 27
Toronto: No. 10
Next three Rockets, Nets games, as of March 10
Houston: Dallas (home, 3/11), New Orleans (road, 3/13), Phoenix (home, 3/16)
Brooklyn: Philadelphia (road, 3/10), New York (home, 3/13), Orlando (road, 3/15)
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