The Celtics' pursuit of Anthony Davis will be aided by a redistribution of ping pong balls.
Changes to the draft lottery go into effect this season, and they'll weaken the position of one of Davis's strongest suitors.
The New York Knicks, losers of 14 straight, currently own the worst record in the league. A year ago, that would've given them a 25 percent chance of picking first and acquiring the rights to Duke forward Zion Williamson, the most exciting prospect to enter the NBA since LeBron James.
However, in an attempt to disincentivize tanking, the new lottery format ratified in 2017 flattens the odds at the top of the draft. The worst three teams will each own a 14 percent chance of landing the top pick, with the chances falling to 12.5 percent, 10.5 percent, and nine percent, respectively, at picks 4-6.
The Suns, Cavaliers, Bulls, Hawks, and Grizzlies currently round out the top six. With the exception of the Suns, none of them possess the other pieces required to acquire Davis, and more to the point, they're each rebuilding to a degree that Williamson on a rookie contract makes more sense as centerpiece than a maxed-out Davis, who'd be no guarantee to re-sign once his contract expires in 2020, anyway.
The Knicks, however, would love to build around Davis and perhaps Celtics guard Kyrie Irving or Warriors forward Kevin Durant. Their odds of acquiring Davis effectively drop to zero without the first overall pick, though, and the new lottery system leaves them with an 86 percent chance of not getting it.
That helps the Celtics, who otherwise own by far the most enticing pieces to acquire Davis, starting with potential All-Star forward Jayson Tatum, as well as a possible future first-round pick from the Grizzlies in 2021 that would be unprotected.