By RICK SOLEM
It’s official, the Milwaukee Bucks will have the best odds at getting the No. 1 pick in the 2014 NBA Draft Lottery.
The battle this season – or lack thereof – for the worst record was sad for those affiliated with Bucks.
Not only did Milwaukee head into the season trying to make the playoffs by signing and re-signing multiple free agents (Larry Sanders, O.J. Mayo, Zaza Pachulia, Gary Neal and trading for others like Luke Ridnour), somehow, they managed to be worse than a team that lost 26 games in a row; a team that traded away two of its best players at the deadline; a team that redshirted its No. 1 draft pick from last season, Nerlens Noel, who was cleared for basketball activities in January after tearing his ACL his one year at Kentucky … all for the sake of getting worse … to get better … maybe.
While the math says Milwaukee has the best chance at the top pick in the draft lottery (Bucks: 25 percent, 76ers: 20), history says it doesn’t.
Since the NBA went to the ping pong balls in 1994, only one team with the worst record has been awarded the first pick – the 2004 Orlando Magic, who selected Dwight Howard. Cleveland was tied for the worst record in 2003, got the first pick and took LeBron James.
Also, since the NBA went to a weighted lottery in 1985, only two No. 1 picks have won the championship with their original team – David Robinson (1987) and Tim Duncan (1997) – and it took both picks to do it. San Antonio won it all in 1999 and 2003 behind Robinson and Duncan, who won it again in 2007. The Spurs had the fourth-worst record when it selected Robinson and the third-worst in getting Duncan.
A first pick did nearly take Milwaukee to the NBA Finals. In 1994, the Bucks took Purdue’s Glenn Robinson. Seven years later he helped the Bucks get to the Eastern Conference Finals, where they lost, ironically enough, to the Allen Iverson-led 76ers.
Ironic in that now both teams “battled” for the worst record this season. Ironic because Iverson was Philly’s first pick in 1996. Ironic in that neither team has sniffed the Finals since.
Since that 2001 Eastern Conference battle, Philadelphia has won two playoff series since (2003, 2012). Milwaukee has exited in the first round five times since.
Robinson wasn’t Milwaukee’s only No. 1 pick. In 2005, the Bucks selected Andrew Bogut.
If the Bucks don’t win the lottery, they can do no worse than the fourth pick. Regardless of where they end up, the question now is, who do they take?