Thanks for crunching the numbers on this! It’s an interesting way of framing it.

My instinct here has been that if I would gladly guarantee that the MIN pick is 7th if that meant we could guarantee not losing it. That’s not possible, but it seems like MIN finishing with the 6-8th seed is most in line with that thinking.

MN is about 500 when KAT is playing. I'm going to say they he comes back after 8 games and plays 49 more games and they play at 500. I'd say that puts MN at 31 wins. Good for the #10 pick. James Bouknight, Moses Moody or Corey Kispert according to Tankathon. All pretty good looking prospects.

Also let's compare drafts. I didn't do too much research, but let's assume 2020 is represented by Williamson and Morant. Their Win Shares are about 3.4, or 16 wins by the end. This year, Ball and Haliburton seem to lead the class at around .8, 4 wins by the end of the season. So let's say the difference between the drafts is about 12 wins.

What's next? Well, there's your top of the draft thing, so perhaps I should consider Hachimura/Reddish/Johnson instead. They were worth about 2 wins.

Let's say we draft #10 in 2021. I like Moody. He displaces Mulder and Poole, adds two wins.

Let's say Towns is healthy in 2021. He and Russell sync better. Edwards gets better. 40 wins nets them the 21st pick. Basically we've pick Hachimura/Reddish/Johnson level player in 2021 instead of Achiuwa/Maxey/Nnaji in 2022. Arguably an upgrade but not overwhelming. I like Achiuwa.

Overall, close to a wash (especially above 5 where we'd be) when you're comparing the Culverts and Okongwus of the world (I like Onyeka).

The extra year of Big Three Window makes the 2020 pick better for me. Thanks to Covid, KAT's absence will probably result in a net gain for us (they probably shouldn't be playing at all).

Also, I have a thought on your 2022 pick is useless method. I wonder if adding 60 is the best model? It is safer, but I wonder if it skews the numbers too much? the #3 and #4 seeds actually draft 4th, on average. Perhaps that is what one would root for? I guess the question is whether or not the #10 in 2021 is actually more valuable than the #1 in 2022. If we consider 2022 to be useless, we might also consider the #10 in 2021 to be useless. In this case, I root for a 3 or 4 seed.

Part of the takeaway of my analysis is that rooting for #3 and #4 is basically wrong in any scenario. #3 has all the bad things about #1 (losing the pick) and nothing good about it. #4 is almost the same chance to lose the pick as #1 and average outcomes are even worse.

If you really desperately want to guarantee a 2021 pick, then it's better to root #6. Otherwise, root #1.

I get what you mean #3 and #4 are high risk and lower return. But isn't that conclusion based on model of assigning a lost pick a value of 60? And doesn't that assume that a #10 pick has value?

Say one assumes that all picks from 6-30 are the same value, regardless the year, then the only thing worth winning is the #4 or #5 picks. All other outcomes are the same. Doesn't 3 or 4 seed (and maybe five) yield the best chance at increased value, i.e. a 3-5 pick in 2021?

Though what I'm leaving out is perhaps closer to your original question: What would I trade for 2022 #1-5 pick? Maybe a 2021 pick > 7-9. But that doesn't convey, so additional calculations needed to weigh a 4,5 this year vs 1-5 this year.

I appreciate your attempts to reason through this.

My model doesn’t depend in any way on the assignment of lost pick as 60. That value is something the reader decides. The main thing is to convert that value into the equivalent of a 2021 pick number.

Trying your approach, unfortunately, you can’t simplify your model by assigning the same value to 6-30 because the optimum depends on what that value is relative to #4 and #5.

If you assign a value of 0 to all picks except 4 and 5, then the optimum is the #1 pick because there’s a 60% chance of getting 4 and 5. #3 has only a 27% chance of getting #4 and #5.

This kind of analysis is best done with a spreadsheet. It is impossible to reason about this without actually doing the calculations. The spreadsheet forces you to clarify your assumptions and reasoning. I’d be happy to talk more about this, but only with actual calculations. It’s a hopeless task to do non-trivial probability calculations from *qualitative* argument. Human brains are bad at that.

"I’d be happy to talk more about this, but only with actual calculations."

That's what you just did for me, thanks! For some reason thinking about this is super fun to me so I really like this article.

I see I was mistating my characterization of #3. I said it's usually #4, though your table clearly states it's most often #6. What I was thinking but said wrong, was that *on average* the #3 seeds drafts 4th (3.67). But that's wrong also, as 3.67 is with your valuation of the 2022 pick. The actual average is 3.23.

I was also making the dumb mistake that the #1 seed drafts 1st (wow my dumb brain) and thus wouldn't convey. You're right, I need to root for MN to be the 2021 #1 seed using my assumed valuations that all other picks are of approximately equal value.

I'm not sure this is the right question, it seems to me it would be "Are you willing to trade Minnesota's 15-30 2022 pick for this years #15-30 pick?" because they did, after all, get the #1 pick this year, at some point KAT will be healthy, and with the #3 pick in this years draft, the T-Wolves could well be good in 2022, and Curry's current deal ends after next season. Presumably he would sign a new contract if the team is good, Personally, I'm hoping the T-Wolves come out of the lottery as the 4th seed, and I would definitely trade the 2022 15-30 pick for this years 4-10 pick, so I guess I am rooting for the 6th seed pre-lottery.

You can ask your question, but you are baking in a lot of assumptions for us by paying attention to 15-30 only. My model attempts to roll all the uncertainty and personal values and assumptions into one single question where each reader can bake in their own assumptions differently.

I get that you are trying to simplify but it just seems to me that with another top 3 pick, and Anthony Edwards having a full year in the NBA, the T-Wolves are likely to be much better in 21-22 than they are in the 20-21 season, in which case the question is between a low - mid pick this year vs a mid - high pick next year. All else being equal, with the Warriors dynasty near an end, I think you want the lower pick sooner. Of course the reality is that we have no control over it so whatever we want is pretty much irrelevant.

I wish KAT a long and comfortable recovery from COVID-19, off the court. ;)

Thanks for crunching the numbers on this! It’s an interesting way of framing it.

My instinct here has been that if I would gladly guarantee that the MIN pick is 7th if that meant we could guarantee not losing it. That’s not possible, but it seems like MIN finishing with the 6-8th seed is most in line with that thinking.

Great writeup Eric!

Let me give it a try.

MN is about 500 when KAT is playing. I'm going to say they he comes back after 8 games and plays 49 more games and they play at 500. I'd say that puts MN at 31 wins. Good for the #10 pick. James Bouknight, Moses Moody or Corey Kispert according to Tankathon. All pretty good looking prospects.

Also let's compare drafts. I didn't do too much research, but let's assume 2020 is represented by Williamson and Morant. Their Win Shares are about 3.4, or 16 wins by the end. This year, Ball and Haliburton seem to lead the class at around .8, 4 wins by the end of the season. So let's say the difference between the drafts is about 12 wins.

What's next? Well, there's your top of the draft thing, so perhaps I should consider Hachimura/Reddish/Johnson instead. They were worth about 2 wins.

Let's say we draft #10 in 2021. I like Moody. He displaces Mulder and Poole, adds two wins.

Let's say Towns is healthy in 2021. He and Russell sync better. Edwards gets better. 40 wins nets them the 21st pick. Basically we've pick Hachimura/Reddish/Johnson level player in 2021 instead of Achiuwa/Maxey/Nnaji in 2022. Arguably an upgrade but not overwhelming. I like Achiuwa.

Overall, close to a wash (especially above 5 where we'd be) when you're comparing the Culverts and Okongwus of the world (I like Onyeka).

The extra year of Big Three Window makes the 2020 pick better for me. Thanks to Covid, KAT's absence will probably result in a net gain for us (they probably shouldn't be playing at all).

Did I make any miscalcs?

Also, I have a thought on your 2022 pick is useless method. I wonder if adding 60 is the best model? It is safer, but I wonder if it skews the numbers too much? the #3 and #4 seeds actually draft 4th, on average. Perhaps that is what one would root for? I guess the question is whether or not the #10 in 2021 is actually more valuable than the #1 in 2022. If we consider 2022 to be useless, we might also consider the #10 in 2021 to be useless. In this case, I root for a 3 or 4 seed.

Part of the takeaway of my analysis is that rooting for #3 and #4 is basically wrong in any scenario. #3 has all the bad things about #1 (losing the pick) and nothing good about it. #4 is almost the same chance to lose the pick as #1 and average outcomes are even worse.

If you really desperately want to guarantee a 2021 pick, then it's better to root #6. Otherwise, root #1.

Because, in the end, doesn't the #3 seed usually draft 4th?

This is an example of why you need spreadsheets not intuition. #3 seed most definitely does NOT usually draft 4th. The odds are for #1, 2, 3, etc:

14%, 13%, 13%, 12%, 15%, 26%, 7%.

The most likely by far is #6, then 5, 1, 2, 3, 4, so #4 is the least probable of all of them.

Isn’t probability weird??? Numbers from Tankathon.com.

I get what you mean #3 and #4 are high risk and lower return. But isn't that conclusion based on model of assigning a lost pick a value of 60? And doesn't that assume that a #10 pick has value?

Say one assumes that all picks from 6-30 are the same value, regardless the year, then the only thing worth winning is the #4 or #5 picks. All other outcomes are the same. Doesn't 3 or 4 seed (and maybe five) yield the best chance at increased value, i.e. a 3-5 pick in 2021?

Though what I'm leaving out is perhaps closer to your original question: What would I trade for 2022 #1-5 pick? Maybe a 2021 pick > 7-9. But that doesn't convey, so additional calculations needed to weigh a 4,5 this year vs 1-5 this year.

I appreciate your attempts to reason through this.

My model doesn’t depend in any way on the assignment of lost pick as 60. That value is something the reader decides. The main thing is to convert that value into the equivalent of a 2021 pick number.

Trying your approach, unfortunately, you can’t simplify your model by assigning the same value to 6-30 because the optimum depends on what that value is relative to #4 and #5.

If you assign a value of 0 to all picks except 4 and 5, then the optimum is the #1 pick because there’s a 60% chance of getting 4 and 5. #3 has only a 27% chance of getting #4 and #5.

This kind of analysis is best done with a spreadsheet. It is impossible to reason about this without actually doing the calculations. The spreadsheet forces you to clarify your assumptions and reasoning. I’d be happy to talk more about this, but only with actual calculations. It’s a hopeless task to do non-trivial probability calculations from *qualitative* argument. Human brains are bad at that.

"I’d be happy to talk more about this, but only with actual calculations."

That's what you just did for me, thanks! For some reason thinking about this is super fun to me so I really like this article.

I see I was mistating my characterization of #3. I said it's usually #4, though your table clearly states it's most often #6. What I was thinking but said wrong, was that *on average* the #3 seeds drafts 4th (3.67). But that's wrong also, as 3.67 is with your valuation of the 2022 pick. The actual average is 3.23.

I was also making the dumb mistake that the #1 seed drafts 1st (wow my dumb brain) and thus wouldn't convey. You're right, I need to root for MN to be the 2021 #1 seed using my assumed valuations that all other picks are of approximately equal value.

This is both simple and very confusing.

The devil is always in the details.

Like life itself

I'm not sure this is the right question, it seems to me it would be "Are you willing to trade Minnesota's 15-30 2022 pick for this years #15-30 pick?" because they did, after all, get the #1 pick this year, at some point KAT will be healthy, and with the #3 pick in this years draft, the T-Wolves could well be good in 2022, and Curry's current deal ends after next season. Presumably he would sign a new contract if the team is good, Personally, I'm hoping the T-Wolves come out of the lottery as the 4th seed, and I would definitely trade the 2022 15-30 pick for this years 4-10 pick, so I guess I am rooting for the 6th seed pre-lottery.

You can ask your question, but you are baking in a lot of assumptions for us by paying attention to 15-30 only. My model attempts to roll all the uncertainty and personal values and assumptions into one single question where each reader can bake in their own assumptions differently.

I get that you are trying to simplify but it just seems to me that with another top 3 pick, and Anthony Edwards having a full year in the NBA, the T-Wolves are likely to be much better in 21-22 than they are in the 20-21 season, in which case the question is between a low - mid pick this year vs a mid - high pick next year. All else being equal, with the Warriors dynasty near an end, I think you want the lower pick sooner. Of course the reality is that we have no control over it so whatever we want is pretty much irrelevant.

Very interesting but also a heavy mental lift for Sunday morning! Thanks Mr. Apricot.

Looks like I'm rooting for whoever is playing the Wolves this year.

Especially this week!

This is the correct conclusion!