The race for consensus No. 1 overall NBA draft prospect Zion Williamson is on. But this tankathon will be different from that of past seasons.
This is the first year under the lottery reform rules passed in September 2017 — more of an incremental step to deter blatant tanking than a complete overhaul. Every loss at the bottom of the standings is now less valuable.
The NBA's board of governors voted to pass legislationon draft lottery reform and guidelines for the resting of healthy players in the regular season.
The NBA draft lottery reform passed with a 28-1-1 vote, with Oklahoma City voting against and Dallas abstaining. The NBA needed 23 of 30 teams — a three-quarters majority — to pass the legislation.
The lottery reform changes will be instituted for the 2019 NBA draft.
Projecting the strength of any draft is challenging, but this is an interesting year to start having identical odds for the No. 1 pick and a top-four selection among the worst teams.
Despite a lingering injury, Williamson is a runaway No. 1 pick, and the second tier of prospects behind him goes about three deep, including RJ Barrett, Ja Morant and Cam Reddish.
ESPN draft analyst Jonathan Givony said on last week's Woj Pod that teams have more questions about the prospects in the Nos. 5-10 range.
The Phoenix Suns (17.5 projected wins), New York Knicks (18.6) and Cleveland Cavaliers (19.3) have a decent lead on earning those coveted top-three spots and an equal chance at Williamson, per BPI. (FiveThirtyEight projects a similar finish.)
The Chicago Bulls (23.1) and Atlanta Hawks (26.2) aren't out of this race, but they have some ground to make up.
And remember: We're talking about much smaller differences in lottery odds between slots. If the Bulls finish fourth, they have a 12.5 percent chance at No. 1 and a 48.1 percent chance at a top-four pick.
If they move up to third, those odds bump up by only 1.5 and 4.0 percentage points, respectively.
"There aren't people like him athletically," Krzyzewski said. "His body has always responded instinctively to what his mind and heart feel. We've seen it. You can't put him out there at any less than (100 percent)."