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Playoff Probabilities Update 1/29/2013: Phoenix Suns, Los Angeles Lakers, Minnesota Timberwolves

Let's take a look at the playoff probabilities of the Suns and Lakers which will eventually decide the Suns' fortunes in the 2013 draft.

Richard Mackson-US PRESSWIRE

The 2013 NBA Draft has been widely rumored to be shallow in upper-end talent. At this point, there is no clear franchise-changer like Anthony Davis, Kyrie Irving, Blake Griffin, LeBron James, Derrick Rose, Kevin Durant, or even Brittany Griner.

But there certainly are potential boom-bust guys out there. We don't know if a James Harden (#3 in his draft) or Stephen Curry (#7) or DeMarcus Cousins (#5) or Damian Lillard (#6) will emerge as All-Star talents after the fact, or if teams at the top of the draft will be stuck with a Derrick Williams (#2), Hasheem Thabeet (#3), Tristan Thompson (#4), Jan Vesely (#6) or a Wesley Johnson (#4) or Michael Beasley (#2).

All we know is that the more chances you get to draft a star, the better your chances to land one. (Cap'n Obvious reporting for duty!)

The Phoenix Suns have the potential for two lottery picks in the 2013 draft, plus potentially a third pick in the 20s.

The Suns have their own, which lately projects to be anywhere from #1 overall to #7 depending on how lucky the Suns are in the lottery ball tournament.

The Suns also have a pick from the Lakers. If the Lakers miss the playoffs, the Suns get their lottery pick outright. If the Lakers make the playoffs, the Suns get the worst of theirs and Miami's. Miami's projects to be in the bottom 2 or 3 of the first round.

The Suns also have Memphis' pick this year, but only if Minnesota MAKES the playoffs. If the T-wolves miss the playoffs, the Suns will get their pick as soon as they do make it (hopefully in 2014).

Let's take a look at each team's projected chances to make the playoffs with nearly half the season left to play.


Basketball-reference runs a 1,000-plus simulations on every team's schedule for the rest of the season and predicts playoff chances. Obviously, the fewer remaining games the better the prediction.

However, they've been really accurate in recent seasons. Teams with a 90+% chance at this point in the season are virtual locks for the playoffs. That leaves only the 8th spot open.

The Suns

As of today, the Suns project to be second-worst in the West because they have a much easier schedule than Sacramento down the stretch. March is a particularly easy month for the Suns.

The Lakers

The Lakers have a better chance today to make the playoffs than they did a week ago, but still less than 1 on 3 shot to make it. The Jazz appear to be their only true competition for the 8th spot and have a tougher remaining schedule, but their current 5-win lead gives them the final edge.

Note that it currently only appears to require 42-43 wins to make the playoffs in the West this year, after needing a full-season average of 48 wins the last several seasons. It's a down year in the West.

If the Lakers can go 24-14, they have a good shot to make the postseason.

Even those of you wanting the Suns to tank should definitely root for the Suns to somehow beat the Lakers this season at least once.

The T-Wolves

The Timberwolves appear totally out of the postseason picture, with only a 1.5% chance of making it at this point. They have endured lots of injuries, which has caught up with them big time.

This is a good thing for Suns fans though. The Wolves lottery-protected pick rolls over for up to 4 years. As soon as the Wolves make the playoffs, it's the Suns' pick. With Kevin Love and Ricky Rubio healthy for only one full season, that should be an easy target.

If Minny had made it this season, the Suns would get the WORST of theirs and Memphis - which is currently projected to be a pick in the 20-25 range. If Minny makes the playoffs next season, the Suns get Minny's pick outright which should be in the teens (in a better draft) rather than the 20s of a weak draft.

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