When the 2022 NBA Draft Lottery takes place this Tuesday, the San Antonio Spurs can realistically land in one of seven spots but also have a minuscule shot at falling to 12th or 13th.
While you can find the exact odds here, it's likely that the Spurs will be drafting at 9th or 10th on June 23rd, but there's a greater than 20% chance they could sneak into the top four. Obviously, leapfrogging several teams would be a massive win for a roster that's arguably one piece away from playoff contention.
But even if they don't end up boosted into the top four, the Spurs would still have a slight chance of surpassing the New Orleans Pelicans -- and that could end up being more important than you'd think. A division rival, the Pelicans surprised many by sneaking into the playoffs, and they did so without their franchise player, Zion Williamson.
Come the lottery, the Pelicans have a 99.6% chance of snagging the Lakers' first-round pick, with the only way they won't have it being the unlikely scenario it drops to 11th or 12th. Currently, that Lakers pick is projected to land just before San Antonio's at 8th. There's a 32.1% chance it falls to 9th and a 6.7% chance it falls to 10th.
Why the Spurs passing the Pelicans could be huge
The Pelicans did well in their last draft by using their 10th pick, Ziaire Williams, to acquire Jonas Valanciunas. Then, they were able to snatch up Herb Jones with the 35th overall pick. We all saw what the rookie did to the Spurs in the Play-In Tournament and then in the first round of the playoffs.
San Antonio picking ahead of New Orleans could prevent them from picking up the piece they've been eyeing, one that could make them an even bigger threat than they already are. Conversely, the Pelicans can do the same to the Spurs if they end up picking right before them in the draft. After all, the selection of Jones shows they're getting better at this whole drafting thing.
What are the odds of the Spurs passing up New Orleans?
There are two ways the Spurs can pass up the Pelicans at the NBA Draft Lottery. One way would be cashing in on their 20.3% shot of sneaking into the top four. The Lakers' pick headed to the Pelicans has a 26.3% chance of doing the same, so they'd have to avoid that happening as well. Here are the odds of the two teams getting into each spot in the top four:
1st pick: Pelicans - 6%, Spurs - 4.5%
2nd pick: Pelicans - 6.3%, Spurs - 4.8%
3rd pick: Pelicans - 6.7%, Spurs - 5.2%
4th pick: Pelicans - 7.2%, Spurs - 5.7%
If neither team sneaks into the top four, there's a 6.7% chance the Pelicans fall to 10th and a 0.4% chance they lose the pick altogether to Memphis if it falls to 11th. The Spurs wouldn't want the Grizzlies to sniff that pick either.
The first spot to watch during May 17th's Lottery will be the 11th slot. The Spurs have a 3% chance of landing there, which is the worst-case scenario. The Wizards are heavily favored to land at 10th, and if that happens, the Spurs' only shot at surpassing the Pelicans would be to catapult into the top four.
No matter where San Antonio lands in the lottery, they'll be able to find talent to help them right away. It sure would be nice not to worry about New Orleans taking their guy first though.