Shorthanded Jazz Down Nuggets, Hurt Lottery Odds

Apr 8, 2023, 5:28 PM

Utah Jazz guard Ochai Agbaji (30) goes up for a layup over Denver Nuggets forward Michael Porter Jr...

Utah Jazz guard Ochai Agbaji (30) goes up for a layup over Denver Nuggets forward Michael Porter Jr. (1) as Utah and Denver play at Vivint Arena (Credit: Scott G Winterton, Deseret News)

(Credit: Scott G Winterton, Deseret News)

SALT LAKE CITY – The Utah Jazz finished their 2022-23 home campaign with a 118-114 win over the Denver Nuggets, but hurt their lottery odds in the process.

Ochai Agbaji scored a career-high 28 points while Luka Samanic added a career-high of his own with 23 points.

The Nuggets were led by Kentavious Caldwell-Pope who scored 21 points.

Jazz Win Bad For Lottery Odds

With a loss against Denver, and a loss on Sunday against the Los Angeles Lakers, teamed with a Washington Wizards win over the Houston Rockets, the Jazz could have been tied for the eighth-worst record in the NBA.

Instead, with the Jazz’s 37th win of the season, they can no longer reach the eighth-best odds of winning the draft lottery next month, costing them better odds of winning the draft lottery, and a chance of landing the eighth pick in June’s draft.

Had they finished the season tied with the Wizards in the final standings, the Jazz’s odds of winning a top-four pick in the draft would have climbed to 23.2 percent. Additionally, they would have had a 50-50 chance of jumping into the eighth pick in the draft based on a drawing from the NBA to break the tie between themselves and the Wizards.

Now, the Jazz are in danger of falling as low as the 10th pick in the draft, and further damaging their odds of winning the lottery.

As of Saturday night, the Jazz own the ninth-worst record in the NBA. At ninth, the Jazz have a 20.2 percent chance of moving into the top-four picks in the draft via the lottery, a 50.7 percent chance of drafting ninth, and a 29.1 percent chance of drafting 10th or worse.

However, if the Jazz surprise the Lakers on Sunday, just as they did the Nuggets, and the Dallas Mavericks fall to the San Antonio Spurs, they’ll find themselves in a two-way tie for the ninth-worst record in the league.

At that point, the Jazz and Mavericks would split the ninth and tenth-best odds of winning the lottery, dropping their odds of moving up from 20.2 to 17 percent.

Furthermore, the NBA would have to break the tie between the two teams via a random drawing, giving the Jazz a 50-50 chance of dropping to 10th in the draft.

With the Jazz facing a motivated Lakers team on Sunday, it’s unlikely they find themselves tied with the Mavericks at season’s end, but as we learned in the team’s win over the Nuggets, anything is possible.

Agbaji Bounces Back After Difficult Outing

Agbaji had one of his more difficult outings of the season on Thursday, scoring 13 points on 6-18 shooting, including 0-8 from the three-point line.

The rookie wasted no time showing he’d put the game behind him, scoring 12 first quarter points on 5-8 shooting en route to a career-best outing.

“Ochai has played in a lot of big games,” Will Hardy said. “He played four years at Kanans and he won a national championship and was the most outstanding player in the final four and he’s played in big pressure games, he just hasn’t done it yet in the NBA and so I think it’s great to see him in those settings.”

After a quiet second and third quarter, Agbaji bounced back with eight points in the fourth quarter on 3-6 shooting to help the Jazz ice the game.

“As coaches, we try to put guys in situations to replace some of that and just nothing will ever compare to what it feels like in an NBA arena,” Hardy added. “Especially this one coming down the stretch and so I’m really glad that he got to experience that and it’s awesome to see him deliver.”

Markkanen Elaborates On Military Requirements

Earlier this week, ESPN reported that Lauri Markkanen was planning to fulfill his required service with the Finnish military this summer after the Jazz were eliminated from the postseason.

The Jazz All-Star elaborated on his obligation before the team’s game against the Nuggets.

“If we’re not going to be playing in the postseason this year, then it’s going to be a good time to do it now instead of just postponing it and then eventually having to do it at a time that wouldn’t have worked so well for me,” Markkanen said.

The Jazz forward didn’t know exactly how long his stint would last, but recognized it may take multiple offseason to complete his time.

“It might be two separate summers because obviously, it’s not long enough for us to do it in one summer,” Markkanen said. “So we’ll see how many days we’ll get to knock out this summer and go from there.”

Markkanen can report for duty as soon as this month or could postpone his start until July.

Utah Jazz Next Broadcast

The Utah Jazz and Los Angeles Lakers will tip off at 1:30 pm MT on Sunday. The game will be televised on ESPN and AT&T SportsNet and can be heard on 97.5 The KSL Sports Zone. It can also be streamed on DirecTV Stream and FuboTV.

Download the new & improved KSL Sports app from Utah’s sports leader. You can stream live radio, video and stay up to date on all of your favorite teams.

Ben Anderson is the Utah Jazz insider for KSL Sports and the co-host of Jake and Ben from 10-12p with Jake Scott on 97.5 The KSL Sports Zone. Find Ben on Twitter at @BensHoops or on Instagram @BensHoops.

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Shorthanded Jazz Down Nuggets, Hurt Lottery Odds