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The Charlotte Hornets draft situation

The Hornets aren’t competing for anything except for lottery balls the rest of the way.

NBA: G League-Boulogne-Levallois Metropolitans at Ignite Lucas Peltier-USA TODAY Sports

The 2022-23 version of the Charlotte Hornets is a very bad basketball team. They are currently 17-43, which is good for the fourth worst record in the league. They are 11.5 games out of the play-in spot with 22 games to go, and they shipped off two key rotation pieces at the trade deadline. They’re in a race for the bottom.

It seems most likely that the Hornets will stay in that four slot through the end of the season. As bad as the Hornets have been, they’re not quite as bad as the Rockets or the Pistons. Meanwhile the Spurs have lost 14 in a row and look poised to plummet through the floor of the basement of the league. On top of that, the Hornets have the ninth easiest schedule the rest of the way (though Detroit has the second easiest). That’s just based on record though. The Hornets also have 14 home games against just eight road games. In short, it’ll be hard to be super duper terrible.

There are a few intriguing games that could reshape the top of the lottery in that stretch. The Hornets have two games against the Pistons. With those teams currently separated by a game-and-a-half, those two contests could flip the standings. The Hornets also have a date with the Rockets for their second to last game of the season in what will surely be a disgrace to NBA basketball in some fashion.

On the other side, it’ll be hard for the Hornets to catch the Magic, who sit one spot behind (ahead of?) them. The Magic are 7.5 games up on the Hornets and have been not bad after some early season struggles. They’re 19-15 since snapping a nine game losing streak back in early December, so it seems like they’re a pretty safe bet to not completely bottom out between now and the end of the season. Next ahead of them are the Pacers, who are young and within striking distance of a spot in the play-in tournament.

So what does all this mean for the lottery? Because that’s what were’ here for, right? Before we get into that, a quick refresher: lottery balls are drawn to determine the first four picks. After those four picks are drawn, the rest of the draft order is determined by record (like every other major sports draft). So if you’re the worst team in the league, if your combination of lottery balls doesn’t get drawn, the worst you can pick is fifth. If you’re the second worst team, the worst you can pick is sixth, and so on.

If the Hornets do finish with the fourth worst record, they’ll have a 12.5% chance of landing the number one overall pick. If they manage to get into the bottom three, those odds will increase to 14.0%. With the fourth worst record, the Hornets will have a 48.1% chance of picking fourth or higher. With a bottom three record, those odds increase to 52.1%.

At the top of the lottery are three clear tiers. Tier one is Victor Wembanyama, who is a transcendent prospect that has the chance to alter the history of whatever team lucks into him. After that is a clear tier two that features Scoot Henderson, who would be a cut and dry top prospect in the vast majority of drafts. If the Hornets land either of those two, the trajectory of the franchise takes an immediate, sharp upwards turn.

Tier three has a whole lot of players and is a lot harder to delineate. There are the Thompson twins, who are freakish athletes with high IQs and shaky jump shots. There’s Brandon Miller of Alabama, who has solidified himself as one of the best players in college basketball, but it was revealed on Tuesday that he supplied the gun that was used in a homicide in which his former teammate is currently being charged with. Even though Miller doesn’t appear to be in danger of being charged as part of the incident, the Hornets may be put off him as a prospect given their recent issues with off court behavior of players.

After that, there are various players like Cam Whitmore, Jarace Walker, Nick Smith, Keyonte George, etc. that all have various pros and cons. It does look like a very talented and deep draft, which bodes well for the Hornets no matter where they fall. With that in mind, it’s probably safe to enjoy the good times that come between now and the end of the season without fretting too much about draft positioning. The Hornets are in an okay spot, and it’s unlikely that a smattering of wins between now and the end of the season will change that.