What are the odds the Pelicans land a top-4 pick in the draft?

Zion Williamson, New Orleans Pelicans. (Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images)
Zion Williamson, New Orleans Pelicans. (Photo by Sarah Stier/Getty Images) /

With NBA Draft Lottery set to take place tomorrow (Tuesday, May 16th), it’s time for New Orleans Pelicans people to start playing the probabilities game of where their pick will ultimately land.

As they had the best regular season record of all the lottery teams, they will most likely land the 14th pick in the 2023 NBA Draft.

For all of our math people out there, in this case, “most likely” means 97.59%. That is the Pelicans’ chances of ending up with the 14th overall pick. That also means that they have a 2.41% chance of having that pick fall in the top-4 and a 0.5% chance of nabbing the first overall selection.

However, as many longtime Pelicans fans know, New Orleans is no stranger to some draft lottery magic. In 2012, they had just the fourth-highest odds (13.7%) of landing the number one overall pick. But yet still managed to pull a rabbit out of the hat, landing the top pick and selecting franchise icon Anthony Davis.

In 2019, the deck was stacked against them to an even greater degree. In that instance, they had only the seventh-highest odds (6%) of securing the first overall pick. But again, they beat the odds and managed to draft current franchise centerpiece Zion Williamson with the first pick in the draft.

Now, their chances are more improbable than ever, but Pelicans fans know better than to ever rule out a miracle. The one variable that connects these three drafts (2012, 2019, and 2023) is that they each include a player viewed by evaluators as a generational prospect.

Before Davis came into the league, he was seen as the next great defensive big man. And judging by the fact his Los Angles Lakers are currently first in Defensive Rating in the playoffs a decade-plus later, it is safe to say he lived up to his reputation.

Williamson was lauded as a physical force, the likes of which we had sparingly seen before. And despite injuries forcing him to miss most of the 2022-23 Regular Season, the Pelicans looked like a real contender when he graced the hardwood.

Victor Wembanyama, the player widely considered to be the best player in this draft, has been hyped up as the ultimate unicorn – the final manifestation of the league’s push toward taller, longer players.

Who knows, maybe the Pelicans can capture lighting in a bottle once again and land their third generational prospect in eleven years.

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