Oklahoma City’s tanking aspirations became clear as day by the end of the season. From social media arguments on platforms like Reddit and Twitter all the way to ESPN’s Scott Van Pelt lashing out on the franchise’s direction on SportsCenter — the Thunder heard it all as they tied a bow on the season.
Heading into their season finale, the Oklahoma City Thunder stood firm with the Orlando Magic with 21-49 records, but after a shocking Thunder victory, coupled with the Magic falling short — the Thunder dropped to 22-50.
Even after dropping a peg, Oklahoma City still wasn’t out of the mud yet, reuniting with a longstanding lottery rival in the Cleveland Cavaliers for a two-way tie at four.
Now, after months of anticipation, the lottery process has finally started for the Oklahoma City Thunder.
Midday Tuesday, representatives of Ernst & Young will oversee a series of six different tie breakers determining where 13 teams should sit at lottery night.
Pick 4: Oklahoma City vs. Cleveland *
Pick 8: Chicago vs. New Orleans vs. Sacramento
Pick 11: San Antonio vs. Charlotte
Pick 19: New York vs. Atlanta
Pick 21: Los Angeles (Lakers) vs. Dallas
Pick 25: Los Angeles (Clippers) vs. Denver *
*Denotes implications for Thunder
Five of six tie breakers for Tuesday will be done as a “coin flip”, in a literal sense, no coin will be present, but odds will be cut 50/50. For pick 8, odds will be sliced into thirds between the Bulls, Pelicans, and Kings as the first winner draws the eighth pick, and the two losers draw a flip for 9.
In the case of Oklahoma City, their coin flip with Cleveland will create a major ripple effect across odds. For starters, the winner of this flip will receive a safety blanket of sorts. The winner of Tuesday’s tiebreaker will be immune from receiving the no. 9 pick in the draft while the loser has an palrty shot at selecting there (0.6%), but it is still a possibility. When you compare the no. 8 spot, both teams will have a chance at selecting at the pick, but the tiebreaker winner has only a 2.4% shot of choosing there — the loser will draw at eight 8.6% of the time.
In a scenario Oklahoma City loses the flip, all hope is not lost as in an ideal scenario — this drawing shouldn’t even need to come into play. Both Oklahoma City and Cleveland will have an equal shot at snagging picks inside the top 4, that includes the no. 1 choice. A 45.1% slate has been cut to both franchises for top 4 picks, these chances will not be altered by Tuesday’s drawing. For the cream of the crop pick, both teams will hold a 11.5% shot at selecting first, this also is not subject to change.
For fans digging deep into the Presti’s cavern, Oklahoma City will also compete in a second tie breaker, just being represented by a different franchise. As a result of the Thunder’s decision to trade Kelly Oubre Jr. in November, they gained Denver’s second-round pick which was obtained from the Warriors. If the ball rolls out a Nugget’s logo, the Thunder will propel from pick 56, to 55. This change will almost indefinitely be irrelevant whether as a euro-stash or G-League tryout, but with a recent history of hitting big on two-way players (Deonte Burton, Lu Dort, Moses Brown, Josh Hall) this pick could give Presti first dibs.
Results of the lottery tie breakers will be made official midday Tuesday.