first_img Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Error LOS ANGELES>> What if a coin flip costs the Lakers their prized high first-round draft pick? It’s unlikely, but it’s statistically possible.It’s been fairly well-chronicled that if the Lakers finish with the NBA’s second-worst record, they enter the draft lottery with a 55.8-percent chance to land a top-three pick, and thus avoid having to send it to Philadelphia. Finish with the third-worst record, and the Lakers’ retention chance drops to 46.9 percent.But what if the Lakers and Phoenix end up tied for the second-worst record, as seems increasingly possible? Get that coin ready in advance of the May 16 draft lottery.The Suns fell to 22-52 with Sunday’s loss to Charlotte, while the Lakers entered their evening game against Portland with a 21-51 record. Brooklyn has all but clinched the league’s worst record, while Orlando and Sacramento clearly are “battling” for the fourth-worst record. SITTING OUTIngram missed Sunday’s game because of tendinitis in his right knee, an injury that kept him out of the fourth quarter and overtime in Friday night’s game.“Not that it’s terrible,” Coach Luke Walton said of Ingram’s injury. “He was out there warming up (pregame). It wasn’t right. He wants to play. That’s the type of young man he is.”Corey Brewer replaced Ingram and made his first start with the Lakers. Ingram had appeared in all 72 Lakers games this season, with averages of 9.0 points and 4.1 rebounds per game.CLOSE WATCHThe NCAA tournament is down to its final four teams, which means something to Walton. Not only did Walton make the Final Four in 2001 with Arizona – the Wildcats lost in the championship game – but if the Lakers hold their high pick, they will have two first-round picks in this year’s draft.Magic Johnson and Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka have been scouting tournament games in person, and Walton said he’s most interested to see how prospects handle pressure.“In my limited experience in evaluating,” Walton said, “that’s the thing I’m looking for the most, (is) how they rise to the challenge in ‘one or done’ type things and how they’re winning or losing.”CLOSE CALLNeither the Lakers nor the Suns hold a significant edge when it comes to remaining opponents.The Lakers play five teams with records above .500 (Washington, the Clippers, Memphis, San Antonio and Golden State) and four teams with records below .500 (Minnesota twice, Sacramento and New Orleans). The Lakers have a 5-15 record in previous games against those teams this season.Phoenix plays five teams with records above .500 (Atlanta, the Clippers, Houston, Golden State and Oklahoma City) and three teams with records below .500 (Portland, Dallas and Sacramento). The Suns have a 6-16 record in previous games against those teams this season.The Lakers’ final opponents entered Sunday with a collective winning percentage of .547 this season, while the Suns’ final opponents had a .558 winning percentage. Of course, given the inclination of some playoff-bound teams to rest players, facing winning teams might not be a reliable predictor.center_img AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREUCLA alum Kenny Clark signs four-year contract extension with PackersThe NBA’s draft-selection system is complex, but think of it this way: each of the 14 non-playoff teams essentially has a number of lottery tickets, and hopes to match the winning ping-pong ball combination.If the Lakers finish second, they will have 199 sets of four-number combinations, out of 1,000. If they finish third, they will hold 156 combinations.If the Lakers and Suns tie for second, each team instead will receive 177 combinations, while a 178th combination will be determined by a coin flip.Of course, nobody will ever know whether that particular extra combination ends up being a winner, but as with any lottery, the more tickets one holds, the better. The NBA holds separate draws for the first, second and third draft picks.If nothing else, the Lakers can hope for continued luck. Last season, they finished with the second-worst record and thus had only a 38.7 percent chance of drafting No. 1 or No. 2. One of their four-number combinations came up for the No. 2 pick, which they used to draft Brandon Ingram.last_img

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