The New Orleans Pelicans’ win over the Atlanta Hawks yesterday put them into the 9th seed in the Western Conference. They are tied with the Lakers but currently own the tiebreaker with two head-to-head matches remaining.
This is a far cry from the team that started the season 1-12, and their last two wins have come without star Brandon Ingram in the lineup.
He’ll hopefully be back soon, as the Pels have one more road game tonight in Charlotte before heading back home to take on the Bulls on Thursday, which is when New Orleans hopes to get Ingram back in the lineup.
The Pelicans haven’t lost ground with Ingram out, and have moved up one spot in the standings, which has huge implications for the 2022 NBA Draft.
As we have discussed, the Pelicans only get to keep their pick if it falls into the top 10 of the draft, otherwise it goes to Memphis.
The pick is coming from the Lakers, so the Pels dream ending would be to make the play-in, beat Los Angeles and then get their draft pick on top of it.
I wrote about the Pelicans draft odds if they finished 10th and the Lakers 9th, but if New Orleans can hold onto the current standings, the odds of keeping their pick improve significantly.
New Orleans Pelicans draft: 2022 NBA Draft odds are improving
If the Pelicans were to finish 10th and the Lakers 9th, they would have just an 8.5 percent chance of keeping their pick, as the Lakers would basically have to jump into the top-4 of the draft for it to happen.
But if the Pelicans can hold onto the 9th spot, their 2022 NBA Draft chances go way up:
As the 9th seed, the New Orleans Pelicans have a 95.7 percent chance of keeping their draft pick in 2022 with a 14.7 percent chance of jumping into the top-four.
So this play-in race is not just about home court advantage in the tournament, but also about draft status for the Pelicans.