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The Houston Rockets are now assured of having the best odds possible of landing a top-four pick in the 2021 NBA Draft.
With Saturday’s loss in Utah, the Rockets (16-52) have mathematically clinched one of the worst three records in the 2020-21 season. Regardless of whether they finish with the worst record, which they currently possess, a placement in the top three maximizes Houston’s percentage shot of acquiring a top-four pick in the June 22 draft lottery. The “top four” odds for the league’s worst three teams are identical, with that bottom trio holding the same odds for each of those initial four slots.
While finishing with the worst record would assure that Houston’s top pick cannot fall below No. 5, that’s irrelevant to the 2020-21 Rockets, since their pick goes to Oklahoma City if it falls outside of the draft’s top four. That’s a result of the July 2019 Chris Paul-Russell Westbrook trade.
All that matters to Houston, from a probability perspective, is getting into the draft’s top four and retaining their own pick. By clinching a bottom-three record, they have now officially maximized those odds at 52.1%.
Houston’s 2020-21 regular season has four games remaining and ends on Sunday, May 16. Top 2021 draft prospects include Oklahoma State’s Cade Cunningham, USC’s Evan Mobley, and Gonzaga’s Jalen Suggs.