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Can the Warriors buck their trend of bad lottery luck?

The Dubs haven’t outperformed their lottery slot in 26 years. Will that change tonight?

NBA Draft Lottery Photo by Jennifer Pottheiser/NBAE via Getty Images

In recent years the Golden State Warriors have become synonymous with success. Five straight trips to the NBA Finals, three championships, a single-season wins record, two MVPs, and perhaps the largest free agency coup in NBA history will do that to you.

But there’s one area where the Dubs haven’t had success in many, many years: the draft lottery.

In 1995, the Warriors finished with the fifth-worst record in the NBA, but bucked the odds and landed the top pick, which they used on Joe Smith. In the 26 years since then, the Warriors have been in the draft lottery 16 times. They’ve moved up exactly zero times.

Yes, the Dubs have fallen back in the draft lottery six times, and held the same spot they started in 10 times, but they haven’t moved up in 26 years.

They’ll get a 17th chance tonight, but moving up would mean getting very lucky. The Warriors finished with the best record among the lottery’s 14 teams, and have a 97.6% chance of landing on the No. 14 pick.

So in all likelihood, it will be 17 straight lottery seasons of the Warriors either standing pat or moving down.

Here’s what the other 16 look like (historical data courtesy of RealGM).

Warriors recent draft lottery history

Year Pre-lottery position Post-lottery position Player drafted
Year Pre-lottery position Post-lottery position Player drafted
2020 1 2 James Wiseman
2012 7 7 Harrison Barnes
2011 11 11 Klay Thompson
2010 4 6 Ekpe Udoh
2009 7 7 Steph Curry
2008 14 14 Anthony Randolph
2006 9 9 Patrick O'Bryant
2005 9 9 Ike Diogu
2004 11 11 Andris Biedriņš
2003 11 11 Mickaël Piétrus
2002 1 3 Mike Dunleavy Jr.
2001 3 5 Jason Richardson
1999 9 10 Jason Terry (pre-draft trade)
1998 4 5 Vince Carter (draft-day trade)
1997 8 8 Adonal Foyle
1996 11 11 Todd Fuller

This would certainly be a great year for the Warriors to get lucky, given that the top of the draft is stacked with talent (and if they move up, it would be to the top four). Even if the Dubs hold their spot at No. 14, they’ll also get a chance to get lucky with the Minnesota Timberwolves pick, which conveys to Golden State if it lands outside of the top three.

Make sure to tune into the draft lottery tonight at 5:30 p.m. PT on ESPN.

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