Sometimes losing can actually be winning.
Just ask the Milwaukee Bucks.
Thanks to losing a tiebreaker to the Miami Heat on Friday afternoon, the Bucks dropped to the 17th spot in the 2018 NBA draft and thus were able to keep their first-round pick. Per the terms of Milwaukee’s trade with the Phoenix Suns last November involving Eric Bledsoe and Greg Monroe, the Bucks’ first-round pick would have gone to the Suns had it fallen between pick Nos. 11-16 this year.
Phoenix will get Milwaukee’s first-round pick at some point. The pick will convey to the Suns in 2019 if it falls between Nos. 4 and 16. In 2020, the Bucks’ pick is only top-seven protected. If the Bucks keep their pick in each of those three seasons, it would become unprotected in 2021.
“We’re excited that we got to keep the pick this year,” Bucks general manager Jon Horst said. “When we traded for Eric Bledsoe, the cost of doing that, of getting a player like Eric who we’re extremely excited to have and has helped us in a big way, the cost of doing that was trading a draft pick — we will trade a first-round draft pick at some point. That being said, we like this year’s draft, we’re excited to have a pick in this year’s draft and we look forward to using it in the best way possible to help the franchise.”
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While the Bucks will lose the pick at some point, Horst sees value in keeping the pick now vs. going into the draft without it. The Bucks already won’t have a second-round pick as they sent their second-rounder to the Brooklyn Nets in the Rashad Vaughn-Tyler Zeller deal in February.
“We want to do things to the best of our ability to continue building on the successes we’ve had this year and continue to position ourselves toward contending for championships,” Horst said. “Having that pick and the value of that pick at our disposal now is useful.”
Friday’s tiebreaker is part of an annual process by the NBA to prepare for the draft. Teams with matching records have ties broken for playoff purposes based on head-to-head record, division record, conference record, etc., but that is not the way ties are broken for the draft.
When it comes to the draft, teams with matching records — like the Bucks and Heat at 44-38 — have equal odds when it comes to sorting out the draft order. The Heat, which actually was sending its pick to the Suns regardless, won the tiebreaker and was awarded pick No. 16.