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Mavs: Playoffs Vs. Ping-Pong Balls Print E-mail
by Mike Fisher    Fri, Mar 6, 2009, 11:10 AM

    You want playoffs? Or you want ping-pong balls?

   Before you decide – and when I say “you’’ I mean everybody all the way up to the DFW media and even TNT’s Reggie Miller – you might want to understand just what the playoffs mean, and just what the playoffs mean.

   First, to Reggie Miller’s in-game comments from last night:

 


 

 

   “What is going to suit this team better?’’ Miller said during the Mavs-Hornets telecast. “Getting a young fresh player from college or possibly losing in four or five games to the Lakers in the first round? They have to ask themselves that question. For an older team like this, you always want to make the playoffs.  I always wanted to make the playoffs. But what is going to serve this team better? … This is an aging roster, so maybe some young, fresh college players would do them some good. I’m not saying to tank any games, but …’’

    I’ve talked to Mavs owner Mark Cuban about this over the years, and he absolutely would “tank’’ games (or “play the youngsters’’ or “rest semi-injured stars’’) or whatever you want to call it) if it meant a Draft-Day turnaround.

   “I would tank games,’’ Cuban has said to me. “(But) It depends on where you are.’’

   But that sort of “tanking’’ is about a season, or a large chunk of season. And it’s about having a shot at the first overall pick. A real shot.

    I believe there are dangerous negatives to losing on purpose, that is can introduce a cancerous attitude into an organization. Cuban counters with the example of San Antonio drafting Duncan to join Robinson, though, and that’s the end of my cancer argument.

    So what would “tanking’’ accomplish now, with 20 games left? The Mavs would end up in ninth in the West, a sliver behind Phoenix. The Suns would then play the Lakers – the Lakers team that Dallas would have to be so frightened of that it would rather forfeit the chance – and the Mavs would have the No. 14 slot among the lotto teams.

    Again, I ALWAYS want to be in the tournament. I’d rather be seventh and opening against the Spurs, or I’d rather be a top-four team and opening at home. But no matter what, I want in the tournament. ALWAYS.

    Before you disagree – and if you are a DFW radio show or Reggie Miller, you apparently do – let’s understand the odds:

   With 30 NBA teams, 16 qualify for the playoffs and the remaining 14 teams get ping-pong balls. The Ping-Pong 14 are ranked in reverse order of their regular-season record (thus, Dallas would be the best of the worst and be 14th).

     And here are the odds of the 14 teams getting lucky and getting the top overall pick, that guy who might just change the entire direction of the franchise:

  1. 250 combinations, 25.0% chance of receiving the No. 1 pick
  2. 199 combinations, 19.9% chance
  3. 156 combinations, 15.6% chance
  4. 119 combinations, 11.9% chance
  5. 88 combinations, 8.8% chance
  6. 63 combinations, 6.3% chance
  7. 43 combinations, 4.3% chance
  8. 28 combinations, 2.8% chance
  9. 17 combinations, 1.7% chance
  10. 11 combinations, 1.1% chance
  11. 8 combinations, 0.8% chance
  12. 7 combinations, 0.7% chance
  13. 6 combinations, 0.6% chance
  14. This is you, Mavs. … 5 combinations, 0.5% chance

    Got it? The Dallas Mavericks, if they fail to make the playoffs, have a 0.5 percent chance at the prize. How about other picks? Dallas doesn’t need to be No. 1, right? How about No. 2 or No. 3? Here are the odds for each seed to get specific picks (barring ties):

Seed

Chances

1st

2nd

3rd

4th

5th

6th

7th

8th

9th

10th

11th

12th

13th

14th

1

250

.250

.215

.178

.357

2

199

.199

.188

.171

.319

.123

3

156

.156

.157

.156

.226

.265

.040

4

119

.119

.126

.133

.099

.351

.160

.012

5

88

.088

.097

.107

.261

.360

.084

.004

6

63

.063

.071

.081

.439

.305

.040

.001

7

43

.043

.049

.058

.599

.232

.018

.000

8

28

.028

.033

.039

.724

.168

.008

.000

9

17

.017

.020

.024

.813

.122

.004

.000

10

11

.011

.013

.016

.870

.089

.002

.000

11

8

.008

.009

.012

.907

.063

.001

.000

12

7

.007

.008

.010

.935

.039

.000

13

6

.006

.007

.009

.960

.018

14

5

.005

.006

.007

.982

 

 

     What does it all mean? I’m no math guy (feel free to correct me if the calculations are wrong), but the No. 14 Mavs basically have a 0.6-percent chance of getting a top-three player, a 0.00-percent chance of getting the fourth-through-13th best players, and a dead-lock cinch 98-percent chance of drafting in the near-dead middle of the draft and picking the 14th best player.

    And what do you get for the 14th pick?

 

Player Year Rd. No. College/Team Drafted By
Eric Williams 1995 1 14 Providence Boston Celtics
Predrag Stojakovic 1996 1 14 PAOK (Greece) Sacramento Kings
Maurice Taylor 1997 1 14 Michigan Los Angeles Clippers
Troy Murphy 2001 1 14 Notre Dame Golden State Warriors
Fred Jones 2002 1 14 Oregon Indiana Pacers
Luke Ridnour 2003 1 14 Oregon Seattle SuperSonics
Kris Humphries 2004 1 14 Minnesota Utah Jazz
Rashad McCants 2005 1 14 North Carolina Minnesota Timberwolves
Ronnie Brewer 2006 1 14 Arkansas Utah Jazz
Al Thornton 2007 1 14 Florida State Los Angeles Clippers

 

     Throw GS's 2008 selection of Anthony Randolph and ... now. ... you are fully armed. Playoffs vs. Ping-Pong Balls. Make your decision.

 

 

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