The Dallas Mavericks have long had some of the worst luck in the NBA Draft lottery. In 16 years of being in the lottery, the Mavericks have moved back seven times, and have never moved up. Not once.
It seems impossible, but it’s true. Over the years, Dallas collectively moved down 13 spots in the draft due to malevolent ping pong balls. The worst was in 1986, when the Mavericks had the odds to get the third overall pick and ended up with the seventh pick, moving down four spots. 1993 wasn’t a great year, either. Dallas had the worst record in the NBA and had the highest odds to get number one pick, yet slipped to fourth, ending up with Jamal Mashburn instead of Chris Weber (or Penny Hardaway, but that’s another discussion).
One intrepid Twitter user actually calculated the odds of the Mavericks never moving up in the lottery. The likelihood of it happening was less than four percent, and yet here we are.
The mavs have been in the lottery 16 times (not including 2023). Using their past odds for each lottery I calculated the probability that they would never move up or stay at number 1 (happened twice). That’s how I arrived at a 3.95% chance. pic.twitter.com/STK7CLogAo— HARDY hoops (@hoopfumes) April 14, 2023
After a disappointing 2022-23 season, the Mavericks now hold the 10th best odds in the lottery. Based on history, the best thing that can happen to them is staying at the 10th pick, which would mean they get to keep that pick and use it in a trade or for a young player (again, a discussion for another day).
Unfortunately, also going by their history, there’s just as much a chance that they get bumped back and the pick falls to 11 through 14. In that case, they’d have to send a very valuable pick to the New York Knicks in order to complete the Kristaps Porzingis trade. That’s not...ideal.
But I’m here to tell you that neither of those scenarios are going to happen. The Mavericks aren’t moving down, and they’re not staying at 10. They will literally defy the odds and end up with the first pick in the draft.
How do I know this? Call it a gut feeling. Intuition. Hope. Maybe even delusion. But the Mavericks are leaving the weird little draft lottery bunker on May 16 with the number one pick in their possession.
Maybe the basketball gods will ignore all the Mavericks’ hoops-related mistakes over the past two decades and instead focus on the goodness of Dirk Nowitzki, like the rest of us. They’ll take pity on Luka Doncic and not want him to suffer the same fate, a otherworldly talent held back by inadequate team building. They’ll be merciful to Dallas, finally.
Or perhaps it’s just odds. They can’t have awful luck forever, right? Right? At some point they’re going to move up in the lottery. One year the cursed ping pong balls will come up in their favor. Why not this year?
I’ll leave it to you to argue about who they should take with the pick — Victor Wembanyama or Scoot Henderson — or if they should package it up and trade it. For a few sweet weeks, it won’t matter, because the Dallas Mavericks will have the number one overall pick for the first time in franchise history.