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The Rockets (17-55) had already clinched the NBA’s worst record, along with the associated draft lottery odds — which are the best of any team in the league. But there were also three other teams to carefully monitor, along with others in close proximity in the standings. Here’s why:
Milwaukee: Houston owns its 2021 first-round draft pick.
Portland: Houston owns its 2021 first-round draft pick, lottery protected.
Miami: If Houston does not land in the draft lottery’s top four (a 47.9% chance), Oklahoma City will swap Miami’s first-round selection for that of the Rockets
With Sunday’s results in, here’s where all three of those potential 2021 draft assets stand, as it pertains to the Rockets:
Pick from Miami (40-32): No. 18 overall
Pick from Portland (42-30): No. 21, No. 22, or No. 23
Pick from Milwaukee (46-26): No. 24
With Sunday’s win, the Trail Blazers clinched a spot in the 2021 playoffs, so their first-round pick will officially be conveyed to Houston this year.
Portland finished in a three-way tie with Dallas and the Los Angeles Lakers. However, the tiebreakers for playoff seeding between those three teams do not apply to the draft order. That will be decided by a random draw from the league, with the date of that draw not yet known.
Miami’s first-round pick will not belong to Houston unless the Rockets fail to finish in the top four of the NBA’s June 22 draft lottery. The Rockets have a 52.1% chance of winning a top-four pick, in which case they would retain their own selection, and Miami’s choice would go to Oklahoma City. If Houston does not win a top-four pick (47.9%), the Thunder would swap Miami’s selection (a right acquired from the Chris Paul-Russell Westbrook trade in July 2019) for that of the Rockets. Thus, Houston will have one pick out of their own 2021 slot and the Heat’s number, not both.
The Portland and Milwaukee picks belong to Houston, regardless. Thus, no matter what, the Rockets will have three first-round selections.