All Aboard the Tank? Some Numbers to Know

Published: January 10, 2014

On this site, we try to provide information on everything a Pelican fan might want to know (and even some things they have no interest in knowing). The fact is, that while some fans are sick of losing in order to get better draft picks, some now see it as a necessary evil with the recent injuries to Ryan Anderson and Jrue Holiday. Whether you agree or not, let’s take a look at some numbers relevant to the discussion.

– The Pelicans pick is top-5 protected. This means that if the Pelicans land picks 1-5, they keep it. If not, it goes to Philadelphia. This continues every year through 2019 until Philly gets one of our picks. If we somehow are slated to pick somewhere between 1-5 every year from now until then, Philly will get our second rounder in 2020 as the last bit of compensation for the Jrue Holiday trade.

– The teams with the most and second most ping pong balls are guaranteed to get a top-5 pick.

– Third most balls, and you have a 96% chance. 4th most gives you an 82.8% chance. 5th most gives you a 55.2% chance.

– After that, there is a big dip. 6th most balls, and you got a 21.3% chance of keeping the pick, 7th most is a 15% chance, and 8th most is a 10% chance. After that, the chances are incredibly slim – between 1.8 and 5.1 percent, depending on where you land.

– On average, over the past five years, the 4th worst team finishes with around 25 wins. 5th worst is around 27.

– The Pelicans currently have 15 wins and would need to go 10-38 the rest of the way to likely finish with the 3rd or 4th most balls. Basically, they will have to be as bad as the Milwaukee Bucks have been so far this season to have a good chance at keeping their pick.

– Joel Embiid is a legit 7-footer with a 7’5″ wingspan and top level agility and athleticism for his size.

– The Pelicans are 3-9 without Ryan Anderson this year. If they continue that pace and Ryno is out for the year , they will win 12 more games this year (27 total).

– Brian Roberts will likely start at point guard for at least the next month or so. No numbers, just thought I would throw that in there.

– Jabari Parker is a 6’8″ SF with a 7 foot wingspan that is currently putting up 20 points per game for Duke, and is a legitimate Player of the Year candidate as a Freshman.

– According to Ryan Schwan’s Draft Value chart, you have a 38.6% chance of getting a star with a top-5 pick in a normal year, and a 21% chance of getting a solid starter.

– Andrew Wiggins is the same height and has the same wingspan as Jabari Parker, but also displays a once-in-a-generation type of athleticism.

– Ben Gordon is making $13.2 million dollars this year on an expiring contract. That means that he can be traded straight up for Eric Gordon.

– The Pelicans play 18 games between now and the All-Star break (the earliest Jrue and/or Ryan figure to be back). 10 of those games are against non-playoff teams that the Pelicans figure to be competing against for a top-5 pick if they decide to go that way.

– And the final number is 100. As in, this is 100% depressing that some are even considering rooting against the Pelicans for yet another season. But honestly, how can you blame those who do? The playoffs are practically impossible and we can’t even root for the core to work on  learning to play together, because the core never gets a chance to do just that. At this point, you have to ask: If keeping the pick isn’t the best possible outcome this year, what is? Just so sad.


  1. _DewTheDrew

    January 10, 2014 at 4:44 pm

    This really makes me sad, like I’m actually depressed right now, really depressed.

  2. tzander01

    January 10, 2014 at 5:35 pm

    Gotta have the worst luck in the NBA this season, as far as injuries are concerned…every major player on this team has missed time.

  3. wilthomas178

    January 10, 2014 at 6:29 pm

    tzander01  i disagree…
    We are very fortunate as pelicans fans..
    Not Every NBA team can go from a once-in-a-generation PG and win like what we had in CP3,
    then have the balls bounce in our favor to land a once-in-a-generation Big in AD..
    1. We are NOT in salary purgatory like the Knicks or the Nets..
    2. We have most talented 20 year old since Magic Johnson in AD on our team for at least another 6 years or so.
    3 We are still the youngest team in the NBA with a strong upside..

    Right now, we are just injured..down but not out..
    OK MAYBE WE ARE OUT..but our future is one of the brightest in the keep ya head up, brighter days ahead..

  4. shutupmexicano

    January 10, 2014 at 10:17 pm

    Trade Roberts for whatever you can get and call up Pierre Jackson, no better time than now to test him

  5. mojart

    January 10, 2014 at 11:32 pm

    Sad…but with SF and CENTER our weakness….and with names like parker, wiggins, emblid and a randle coming hate to say this but I think its time to tank…sorry

  6. RobertWelch

    January 10, 2014 at 11:39 pm

    tzander01 …every major player EXCEPT Eric Gordon. Yeah he missed maybe 2 games, but compared to everyone else he’s been the picture of health…go figure that one out.

  7. mrcatz22

    January 11, 2014 at 12:46 am

    I’d hate to see us tank the rest of the way and end up sitting in the 6th or 7th spot. There are a lot of worse teams than us that have been set from the start to be “Rigging for Wiggens” or whatever you want to call it. As much as I want to see us land Embiid/Wiggins/Parker I’d kind of like to see how our future core handles the set back. Plus we still have Gordon who we could possibly turn into someone else that compliments the team much better like a true center (like Pekovic or Asik) or a defensive wing player (Like an Avery Bradley, who by the way I really really want for us). Not that those trades will happen but we have a player with rising value and several throw in pieces as well. And as much as I don’t want to see him go if we can meet those needs by trading Anderson I’m open to it depending on the value we get back.

    Basically I feel that our future is in a Holiday/Evans/Davis core with a 4th guy (be it Anderson or someone else). I feel that getting players with NBA experience will be more beneficial than risking on a college kid much less on even getting the slot. I want to see how the players that are going to be on the roster next season and beyond handle what their giving and develop through it. And I want to see Miller/Rivers/Withey more to see what happens with them. We have a lot of talent and a few assets to work with before we throw away an opportunity. The seasons not gonna be pretty but I’d be much more satisfied seeing development and effort than losing for possibly nothing.

  8. RobertWelch

    January 11, 2014 at 12:30 pm

    mrcatz22 I agree, Davis is our future, and the team needs to be built around him. Getting a younger top pick player now isn’t what we need. That will just cause problems in a couple years when we have to make a new contract for Davis, and then we can’t afford the to resign the 1st round pick from this year. We need to convert Gordon’s contract into an expiring players, so we can be in a good position to secure Davis and get the other few veteran pieces needed to support the team around him, with Holiday/Evans/Anderson as the core. If it’s with Monty or another coach, it’s possible to make a strong playoff team there.

  9. Michael McNamara

    January 11, 2014 at 1:41 pm

    mrcatz22 Would you feel better if we just stunk and gave Philly the 10th pick?
    Personally, I don’t care what pick Philly gets. The worse the record, the better the odds are at keeping the pick. If we try to win, fine. But I am not going to be more upset if we give Philly the 6th pick than if we give them the 10th. 
    You give yourself the best chance to improve.

  10. mrcatz22

    January 11, 2014 at 2:17 pm

    Michael McNamaramrcatz22I’m not upset if Philly gets a good player with our pick, I’m upset with creating a losing mentality among the team only to come up short on any draft success.  Going into the season we had a win now attitude and 2 months later it takes a 180; that’s not the environment I want to present to one of the youngest rosters in the league. That’s not a good mindset to have when the team wants to keep this young core together for several years. Tanking just seems to lower morale for basically nothing.

  11. Michael McNamara

    January 11, 2014 at 3:35 pm

    I agree. There is a difference I think people need to keep in mind:
    Wanting the team to lose
    Wanting the team to try to lose
    I don’t mind A. I would hate B

  12. PelicanSaints

    January 11, 2014 at 7:39 pm

    Ahhh…..Lets tank and hope for Wiggins or Parker…..

  13. yaboytonez

    January 13, 2014 at 12:23 pm

    I don’t want to encourage tanking because we were rewarded with Davis after we didn’t a couple years back. Plus there are ALOT of teams worse off than the Pels.

  14. yaboytonez

    January 13, 2014 at 12:24 pm

    Great point.

  15. thouse

    January 16, 2014 at 8:47 am

    Here is a link from on tanking
    He looked at the top 5 picks in the 2000-2009 drafts to see who were the franchise players everyone should be tanking for. The line that stood out to me:
    “Now, let’s look at this list again: How many of these players would be worth throwing away an entire year? I’d argue that list would be short: James, Howard, Love, Harden, Wade, Durant, and Paul. That’s 7 out of 50 players. So, arguably, the “reward” for losing a lot of games in one season is a 14% chance at a franchise player…if you get a top 5 pick.Many teams that “tank” end up far from the bottom, and finish with the 6th-10th worst record, and have much smaller chances at the top 5.”
    And I agree 100% with this summation:
    “Draft picks are valuable in the sense that you want to collect lots of them (because some will work out, and when they do they are the best contracts you can have); but pursuing any one particular draft pick in any one particular year is an awful strategy.”

  16. CPMDatson

    January 16, 2014 at 8:25 pm

    I still don’t get why we gave up the first as top 5 protected. It feels like the type of deal where we offered too high and didn’t negotiate. Seems we should have 10-12, Philly comes back with 3-5 and we meet at 7-9 protected.

  17. Jason Calmes

    January 18, 2014 at 9:29 am

    thouse  I’m not sure if I’ve sent this to you before

    I wrote it last season, but it is still valid.

    The idea of tanking is, from a data-driven perspective, stupid. it’s the product of analysis that is purely void of looking at the data.

  18. thouse

    January 19, 2014 at 7:13 pm

    Jason Calmes Thanks for the link. Great points. Like last year, tanking with a roster this young and recently formed is crazy. 
    Perhaps the injuries persist and make them bad enough that they continue to lose games and entertain a chance at keeping the pick. But for me, there is no reason to throw away this season. 
    This is certainly not what we all for expecting for this season, but there is still much to play for. The development of Davis, Gordon, Evans, Aminu, Miller, Withey, Anjica, and Rivers and the steps they take are incredibly important for future success. Not holding these guys to the standards the team has for each of them would be far worse than any 2nd half collapse or poor offensive possession.

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