Larry Nance Jr., the son of a former Suns All-Star, overcame disease and injury to be a Wyoming star.


Despite what Clevelanders might think, it's quite uncommon to "win" the NBA Draft lottery. Yet every year, some team does improve its draft slot thanks to the ping pong balls, sometimes dramatically.

Let's take a walk down memory lane to see how the Phoenix Suns and other bad teams have fared in the NBA's Draft Lottery since the concept was incepted.

Early random drawings

From 1985 to 1989, the worst seven teams each got an envelope and were randomly picked for their draft order. The Suns participated three times in five years. They got the #2 pick in 1987 (Armon Gilliam). But in 1986 they picked 6th of 7, and in 1988 they picked 7th of 7. Ugh.

First lotto years were fun (but not for Phoenix)

The lottery odds were fairly distributed. The worst team had less than a 20% chance moving up, even though the 11th-worst team had just a 1.52% chance.

  • 1990: #10 Seattle used a 3% chance at a top-3 pick to jump all the way to #2
  • 1992: Charlotte jumped from #8 to #2 with a 6.06% chance
  • 1993: Orlando jumped from #11 to #1 with a 1.52% chance. They took Anfernee Hardaway to pair with Shaq and made the Finals. That same year, Golden State jumped from #7 to #3 with a 7.58% chance (Chris Webber) and Philadelphia jumped from #5 to #2 with a 10.61% chance.

Then they stacked the odds toward the top

Beginning with 1994, the lottery odds were stacked more in favor of the worst teams and in the last 20 years only ONE TEAM lower than 9th has jumped into the Top 3 picks

  • 1994-1998: ZZZZZZzzzzz. No team lower than 5th ended up with a Top-3 pick for six boring years.
  • 1999: Charlotte jumped all the way from #13 to #3 on a 1.83% chance
  • 2000: New Jersey jumped from #7 to #1 on a 15.39% chance of a Top-3 pick
  • 2001: The Clippers jumped from #8 to #2 with a 10.31% chance
  • 2008: The Bulls jumped from #9 to #1 with a 6.1% chance, nabbed future MVP Derrick Rose and haven't missed the playoffs since.
  • 2011: The Clippers jumped from #8 to #1 on a 10% chance, but had already traded the pick to Cleveland who grabbed Kyrie Irving
  • 2013: Washington jumped from #8 to #3 on a 12.4% chance and took Otto Porter.
  • 2014: Cleveland hopped form #9 to #1 on a 6.1% chance, which they used to acquire Kevin Love for their Conference Finals run

The Suns lowe the late lotto

The Phoenix Suns franchise has not jumped to the top of the lottery at any point. Period. They got lucky once in the "seven envelopes for seven teams" format and nabbed the #2 pick in 1987. But that's it.

They were never in the lotto during the "fun" years of 1990-1993, but have been there 9 times in the last 21 years, with 5 of those times occurring in the last 5 seasons.

The Suns have had the #13 or #14 pick in 5 of those 9 lotto years - 2015 (?), 2014 (T.J. Warren), 2012 (Kendall Marshall), 2011 (Markieff Morris) and 2009 (Earl Clark). Of those picks, only one has been in an NBA starting lineup for a full season, though T.J. Warren shows promise for the future.

The Suns have been one of the league's 12 worst teams (out of 30) just 6 times in the last 28 years, nabbing four starters with the picks: Armen Gilliam (1987), Shawn Marion (1999), Amare Stoudemire (2002) and Alex Len (2013).

Tim Perry (1988) was best known as a throw-in to the Charles Barkley trade in 1992, but was otherwise underwhelming in four seasons as a Sun.

The Suns traded away their only other top in the last 28 years, dumping the #7 pick in 2004 (Luol Deng) for table scraps (Jackson Vroman) and $3 million in cash. Before you get all tizzied, that was Jerry Colangelo, owner, and Bryan Colangelo, son/GM, who did this. Robert Sarver wasn't even a twinkle in their eye, though he's blamed for the same actions in later years.


Even though no team lower than #9 has jumped into the Top 3 since the turn of the century, we can still hold out hope for the Suns to be "lucky".

The Suns have only a 2.2% chance to nab a Top-3 pick, but they are sending center Alex Len and ailing Jared Ornoski to help turn the tide and make history.

It's impossible not to hope, so go right ahead.

Just don't do it while holding your breath.

The Phoenix Suns, as we’ve been covering pretty extensively over the last few weeks, have a long and mostly unhappy history when it comes to the NBA Draft. Their fan base might be the most...

[[ This is a content summary only. Visit my website for full links, other content, and more! ]]

This Week's Show

The geeks are back to talk the NBA playoffs. The Clippers collapsed, the Bulls got buried, and no, MJ couldn't take LeBron in a game of one on one. Tune in!



Please subscribe to Channel NerdNumbers on YouTube and like us on iTunes!

Video Show

This Week's Poll

Show Notes


A running theme is we like to come up with good adjectives about our producer Brian. He said he'd prefer ones that don't give him such a god complex. We'll see how that goes.

I compared Brian to a "bad entourage member." This is a reference to a Mike Birbiglia routine, which amazingly, there is a transcript for! How great is the internet?

The Clippers vs. the Rockets

The Clippers are an absurdly top-heavy team. A real GM could probably improve them a bit.

The Clippers have Chris Paul and Blake Griffin locked up long term. They have DeAndre Jordan's bird rights. There is no excuse not to keep this core together and build some better depth. Full Clippers salary data here.

If the Clippers lose DeAndre Jordan over contract disputes, it will be as silly as losing James Harden over $4 million a year.

To be clear, the Rockets let go of Tarik Black to sign Josh Smith. We were not and are still not fans of this.

Reddit noted that Josh Smith has outshot Kyle Korver from three this postseason.

Josh Smith was terrible in the first four games in this series. If it wasn't until the fourth quarter of game six, there would be no world the Josh Smith move seemed wise. The universe has a sense of humor sadly.

With the Clippers falling, the reality is the Warriors not winning the title will be a huge disapointment. I say this even as a person that hates the playoff tests.

The Clippers remind me of the 2008 Celtics but without the age issues. Here's hoping Steve Ballmer capitalizes on it.

I note on the show that if Chris Paul wants to get rid of DeAndre Jordan, I will have no sympathy for him not winning a title.

The East - Ugly Ball

Game six of the Bulls versus the Cavaliers was ugly ugly basketball.

The Hawks had trouble dispatching the Wizards. Reminder, the Wizards were a 46 win team in the East!

The Bulls without Pau Gasol versus the Cavalier without Kevin Love, who's excited?

The Warriors versus the Cavaliers would be reminiscent of the 2007 Spurs versus the Cavs.

A Mexican restaurant without sopaipillas is unacceptable in my opinion. Sadly, many in Wisconsin exclude these on their menus! I'll give El Jaripeo a shout out for having an excellent sopipilla.

The Eastern conference is like a Mexican restaurant without sopaipillas and watered down alchohol. That's my take at least.

MJ vs. LeBron James

In a survey about who would win in a game of one on one between Michael Jordan and LeBron James right now ... thirty-four percent sided with Michael Jordan. This is absurd. Heck, I think the idea of an in-prime Jordan keeping up with LeBron James is absurd. LeBron has two inches, forty pounds, and a much better shooting range than MJ!

Reminder, MJ had a shortened three-point line for two years in his career.

I may getting a little greedy with Curry in this comparison, but I still think people overrate MJ to a degree.

In one on one MJ (in their primes) wouldn't take: LeBron Durant Curry To name a few.

— Andrés Alvarez (@NerdNumbers) May 14, 2015

I feel Michael Jordan is a lot like the "Attitude Era" in Wrestling. People fondly remember it, and I believe overrate it. Yes, Jordan and the Attitude Era were both amazing. But it's not as if either were without fault. And, it's not as if there haven't been things since that are as good or better in some aspects.

The shooting guard position has traditionally been a role that's arguably misused. Michael Jordan is one of the few shooting guards in history to significantly outperform his position. While that's very impressive, it isn't enough, to me at least, to dethrone other players.

Behind the Scenes - Position Adjustment

One part of the Points over Par metric is the use of position comparisons. We've got a flaw in our code regarding this at the moment. We are in the process of revamping how we do positions. We'll keep you in the loop there, but we discuss some of this on the show.

Shout Outs

Dave Berri for asking about the guest docket on the show:

@NerdNumbers Who is the guest?

— David Berri (@wagesofwins) May 19, 2015

Haralbos Voulgaris wins at basketball and Twitter.

He’s run the #s and he isn’t impressed. Coltrane for Clips GM in 2016 #DOG>DOC

— Haralabos Voulgaris (@haralabob) May 18, 2015

Doc really has no idea how bad a GM he is this blows my mind

— Haralabos Voulgaris (@haralabob) May 18, 2015

Also, congrats to Patrick and his fiance Karen who got engaged this last week!

Today, the Phoenix Suns surprised high school point guard Jared Ornoski, currently battling Hodgkins Lymphoma, to help the front office throughout the draft process.

The Phoenix Suns this morning announced the "signing" of Phoenix Christian Preparatory student-athlete, Jared Ornoski, as an honorary member of the Suns front office.

Ornoski was surprised by Suns president of basketball operations, Lon Babby, during a school assembly with classmates and friends.


Jared's first task will be to give the Suns some good luck in the Draft Lottery, in which they currently have a less than 3% chance to jump into one of the top three slots.

After signing a contract with Babby, Jared and his father Mike hopped into a limousine to Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport, where they boarded a plane bound for New York City and will join Suns center Alex Len for the NBA Draft Lottery tomorrow night. The event will determine where the Suns select in the First Round of the June NBA Draft, and will air on ESPN at 5 p.m. (MST).


While the cynical one among you might think the Suns have created their own rabbit foot for the Lottery, I want to commend the Suns for making someone's dream come true in a time of real stress and need.

On January 5, in the middle of his junior basketball season, Ornoski visited the doctor for a lump in his neck and was diagnosed with Hodgkin's Lymphoma. After multiple rounds of chemotherapy, Ornoski is scheduled for his final chemo session in late May, with the initial size of his tumor having already shrunk by 80%. Throughout his battle, Jared has proactively worked to raise funds and awareness of the disease, hoping to help others who are dealing with a similar situation.

Members of the community can assist Jared and his family through the following link:

Here's hoping Jared recovers 100% and follows his basketball dreams for a long life to come.

Page 7 of 1947


Web Links

Sponsored Ads