The Bobcats and the Playoffs, Redux


Like the Bobcats actual chances of making the playoffs, the argument about whether they should even be trying to make them isn’t dead yet either.

I appreciate Rick Bonnell’s steady-handed beat writing on the Bobcats for the Charlotte Observer.  But I couldn’t disagree more with his take on the issue, posted on his blog on Monday night after the win over the Bucks.  Rick’s words are in italics:

I got an email today from a reader saying I should stop writing about playoff implications and that the Bobcats would be much better off chasing lottery luck.

Wasn’t me, but it might as well have been.

I get that email a lot, and frankly it disregards how the weighted draft lottery works these days. If you’re one of the last teams to reach the playoffs, you have a miniscule chance of a top-3 pick (about a 1 percent chance for each of those picks).

Frankly, I’m not sure Rick is properly regarding the weighted lottery system.  (Also, I’ll assume he means “If you’re one of the last teams to MISS the playoffs”, otherwise he really doesn’t understand the system.)

Fortunately, I do understand the system and so can you.  It’s all right here on the Wikipedia page for the NBA Draft Lottery.  Scroll down about halfway to the “Process” section — the chart is very helpful in understanding.

Currently, the Bobcats have the 10th worst record in the league.  With Monday night’s win over the Bucks, it’s looking more and more like we’ll be locked in there to finish the season.  The “lottery” is indeed for the top 3 picks.  After that, the remaining non-playoff teams are simply slotted back in their order from worst to “best”.

With the 10th worst record, the Bobcats would have a 1.1% chance of winning the lottery for the #1 pick, a 1.3% chance at the #2 pick, and a 1.6% chance at the 3rd pick.  Another way of looking at it is that there is a total of a 4% chance of moving up into the top 3 picks.  Obviously, the chance that the Bobcats would end up with the 10th pick is overwhelming — 87%.

If the Bobcats could drop down lower than the Bucks (again, unlikely after Monday night) they’d be the 9th worst team.  That gets you a 1.7% chance at the #1 pick, 2.0% for #2, and 2.4% for #3.  Total 5.1% chance of moving up into the top 3 and 81% chance of sitting tight at the 9th spot.

If the Bobcats really got serious about tanking (it’s really not a dirty word — you can say it) they could pass up the Clippers for the 8th worst record in the league.  With that comes a 2.8% chance at the #1 pick, 3.3% for #2, and 3.9% for #3.  Total 10% chance at moving up; 72% chance at staying at #8.

Meanwhile the Bobcats would have a far greater chance (about nine percent) of actually moving DOWN in the draft order.

Yes, if the Bobcats finish in with the 10th worst record, they actually have a 8.9% chance of falling back one spot to the 11th pick (and a miniscule 0.2% chance of falling back two spots to the 12th pick) — that 9% chance represents the sum of the chances of teams 11-14 moving up into the top 3, thus bumping the Cats back.

You know what would DEFINITELY bump the Bobcats draft spot back — all the way to the 15th spot?  Making the playoffs.

And don’t even try to argue that the difference between #10 and #15 isn’t that big of a deal in this mediocre draft.  Not valuing draft picks like that is just the kind of lazy thinking and poor planning that have gotten the Bobcats into the mess they’re in.  (Hey, Adam Morrison!  He’s awesome in college!  3rd pick, you betcha!!!  It’s all a crapshoot anyways!).

Someone a lot smarter than you, I or Rick Bonnell figured out that the average player drafted in the 10th spot is roughly 31% better than the average player drafted in the 15th spot.  Scroll about halfway down the page to figure 7 and table 2 and the following discussion for the meat of the article.

In this particular draft, the 10th spot gives you a shot at getting Brandon Knight or Terrence Jones — guys that still have some star potential.  At #15, you’re looking at names like Jordan Hamilton, Kenneth Faried or John Henson — guys you’re hoping will carve out a spot in your rotation.

The playoffs are fun, and even if they were clobbered in the first round, the Bobcats would gain experience by participating.

Ahh, the tee-ball argument.  Everyone come to the playoffs, its FUN!  I disagree, getting swept/exposed/embarrassed by the Magic was not fun last year, and getting swept/exposed/embarrassed by the Bulls this year wouldn’t be any fun either.  As far as “gaining experience”, name me a player from last years’ squad who seems to have benefitted from the experience of last year’s playoff sweep.

If you have a young, developing team with most of the big pieces in place, then it’s acceptable to gun for the 7th or 8th playoff spot for “the experience”.  Think last year’s Oklahoma City Thunder, or this year’s Memphis Grizzlies.  But not the Bobcats — not a team sorely lacking talent that relies on a 33-year-old volume shooter to be its “star”.

You can’t convince me finishing ninth in the East is better than finishing eighth.

Agree to disagree, then?

And you sure don’t want to send the message to players that losing is ever better than winning.

Completely agree with this. It’s a very delicate issue and probably the strongest argument against tanking.  My only counter is to say that this probably underestimates the intelligence/maturity of the players.  They aren’t in a Disney movie; they know better than anyone that their squad needs an influx of talent to seriously compete.

Treat injuries conservatively and shift minutes to younger players who need the burn anyways.  The players save face while the losses mount.  As long as the locker room chemistry is good (supposedly the case with the Bobcats) there are probably not going to be any serious negative ramifications from a few extra losses to end the season.

Until next time, I’ll be “chasing lottery luck”.

-Dr. E

POLL : This Season: Where Did It Go Wrong?

  • Trading Tyson Chandler for Dampier (39%, 71 Votes)
  • Not Re-Signing Raymond Felton (14%, 26 Votes)
  • Starting Nazr Mohammed (2%, 4 Votes)
  • Firing Larry Brown (2%, 4 Votes)
  • Trading Gerald Wallace (32%, 59 Votes)
  • Re-Signing Tyrus Thomas (6%, 11 Votes)
  • Cutting Sherron Collins (4%, 7 Votes)

Total Voters: 182

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11 thoughts on “The Bobcats and the Playoffs, Redux

  1. This is a great breakdown of the lottery and the bigger picture Bobcats situation. Is there a team that comes to mind that intentially tanked their season? Does it come down to the coach putting in the garbage players?

  2. I’ve got to say that this a wonderful “wedge” issue. To Tank or Not To Tank – that’s such a tough question.

    I would love to see the Cats make the Playoffs and win a game or two. Still, I’d love to see them snag a top Draft pick and win a whole lot more next season. But, when it comes to the Charlotte (friggin’) Bobcats, it’s not that simple.

    They could potentially grab the 8th seed and get swept by the top seed (Chicago?), and then be left with a lame Draft selection around the 15th pick. That’s kind of an “if all goes to $#!t scenario” for ’em.

    What would be worse? The Cats could tank and waste the rest of the season to get a pick around #9 or #10. Then, what would GM Rod Higgins and Air Jordan do in that situation? Well, they’d probably reach and draft someone that should have been picked around #15 or #20, anyway. ‘Cause that’s how they roll.

    So, if the Cats and MJ got a chance of getting a top 3 pick what would they do? Would we see another Adam Morrison or Kwame Brown type of selection?

    I’m betting that Charlotte gets the 10th pick, combines it with a future pick to trade for a higher selection in this weak Draft. This year, we’ll see about six or seven good players and then a buncha role players types.

  3. After last night’s loss to the Magic, playoff talk is really over. For me, it’s been a moot point ever since the Gerald Wallace trade, but now it is for everyone else too. It’s cool, you guys can still join my club now – I’ve done all the legwork learning about this year’s draft.

    The crummy thing is that instead of shutting down Jack, Tyrus, etc. 2 weeks ago, the Cats have eked out a few more wins and are now projected to finish ahead of the Warriors (as well as the Bucks and Clippers) in the win column.

    So instead of the 8th or 9th pick with a small, but palpable chance of moving up into the top 3, we’re now likely back at 11th with an infinitesimal chance at moving up. We’ll be praying for Terrence Jones or Brandon Knight to slip down there, but again we’ll be praying for them to slip instead of having our pick. If Harrison Barnes decides to stay at Chapel Hill (seeming more and more likely every day) it’s very possible neither Jones or Knight will be there at 11.

    So, hope everyone enjoyed this late season “playoff push” — it probably just ensured the Bobcats another couple years on the mediocrity treadmill.

  4. I’m excited about tonight’s game in Charlotte against the Magic. It will be a lot like a repeat of last year’s Playoff series. Dwight and Co. will come in and push around 9 guys with Cats jerseys and we’ll still be able to land a high Draft pick.

    Everyone wins! (except the Bobcats, of course)

  5. I can only wonder what kind of excitement we’d have here if our lineup was Chandler, Diaw, Wallace, Jackson, Felton with Augustine, Thomas, and Henderson off the bench. We’d be a 4 or 5 seed. Our owner is hopeless.

  6. Leroy

    So here we go. We will probably have the 10th and 21st pick in this predicts that we will get Jonas Valanciunas from 10th and Kenneth Faried from 21st…

    But i would be much more happy to see if we can land terrence jones and Shelvin Mack so we will have two solid prospects on the SG/SF spots. the scoring that shelvin mack has is a great compliment to gerald henderson’s defence.

    and terrence jones can fill like 1/10 of the void that crash left behind.

  7. RobC

    MJ please FOCUS, FOCUS on the Draft. We have two 1st Rd (1 Lottery) and one 2nd Rd.

    Lottery Pick (8-10) Draft either:
    UConn’s Kemba Walker
    Kentucky’s Enes Kanter or Barndon Knight

    Other 1st Rd Pick (19-21) Draft the best avaliable player

    2nd Rd Pick Draft Florida State’s Chris Singleton

  8. looking at the current number of talents, the bobcats might still have a shot at kemba walker with the 9th pick…any thoughts? who is a better fit for the cats at the 9th pick?

    Alec Burks for his potential and age and size?
    Kemba Walker for his leading/ hunger for scoring and winning?
    Terrence Jones for his versatility?

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