NBA Tank Magic Numbers

2020-21 National Basketball Association Tank Magic Numbers

Tank Magic Numbers

Tank GP/R W L W%
HOU 67/5 16 51 .238   1 1
MIN 67/5 20 47 .298 NC 5   4 4 4
DET 67/5 20 47 .298 NC   5 4 4 4
CLE 67/5 21 46 .313 NC NC NC 5   5
OKC 67/5 21 46 .313 NC NC NC 5 5  
ORL 67/5 21 46 .313 NC NC NC   5 5
TOR 67/5 27 40 .403   4 3 2 1 1
CHI 67/5 28 39 .417 NC   4 3 2 2 1
SAC 67/5 29 38 .432 NC NC   4 3 3 2 1 1
NWO 67/5 30 37 .447 NC NC NC   4 4 3 2 2 1
WAS 67/5 31 36 .462 NC NC NC NC   5 4 3 3 2 1
IND 66/6 31 35 .469 NC NC NC NC 6   5 4 4 3 2 1
SAS 66/6 32 34 .484 NC NC NC NC NC NC   5 5 4 3 2 1 1 1
CHA 67/5 33 34 .492 NC NC NC NC NC NC   5 4 3 2 1 1 1
MEM 66/6 33 33 .500 NC NC NC NC NC NC 6   5 4 3 2 2 2 1
GSW 67/5 34 33 .507 NC NC NC NC NC NC NC   4 3 2 2 2 1
BOS 67/5 35 32 .522 NC NC NC NC NC NC NC   4 3 3 3 2 1
MIA 67/5 36 31 .537 NC NC NC NC NC NC NC   4 4 4 3 2
ATL 68/4 37 31 .544 NC NC NC NC NC NC NC   4 4 3 2
NYK 67/5 37 30 .552 NC NC NC NC NC NC NC 5 5   4 3
LAL 67/5 37 30 .552 NC NC NC NC NC NC NC 5   5 4 3
POR 67/5 38 29 .567 NC NC NC NC NC NC NC NC NC   4
DAL 67/5 39 28 .582 NC NC NC NC NC NC NC NC   1 1
MIL 67/5 43 24 .641 NC NC   5 4 3 2
BKN 67/5 43 24 .641 NC NC 5   4 3 2
DEN 67/5 44 23 .656 NC NC NC   4 3 1
LAC 67/5 45 22 .671 NC NC NC   4 2 1
PHI 67/5 46 21 .686 NC NC NC NC   3 2
PHX 67/5 48 19 .716 NC NC NC NC NC   4
UTH 67/5 49 18 .731 NC NC NC NC  

The NBA uses a lottery system to determine which teams get the best picks in the upcoming draft. The worse a team finishes in the standings, the better the chance the team gets a higher draft pick.

Every year a few teams seem to throw in the towel and tank in hopes of getting a higher draft pick.

The Tank Magic Number is the number of games a team needs to lose in order to secure a worse seed in the traditional standings.

Basically, it's the exact opposite of a traditional magic number.

We've taken the traditional standings and flipped them upside down, so in our table, it's still a race to the "top".

Assuming the "better" seed is actually a worse record (#1 seed is the worst record, #2 is the second worst, etc), here are the odds of getting the first pick for next years NBA draft:

  1. 14.0% chance of receiving the No. 1 pick
  2. 14.0% chance
  3. 14.0% chance
  4. 12.5% chance
  5. 10.5% chance
  6. 9.0% chance
  7. 7.5% chance
  8. 6.0% chance
  9. 4.5% chance
  10. 3.0% chance
  11. 2.0% chance
  12. 1.5% chance
  13. 1.0% chance
  14. 0.5% chance

When a team is guaranteed a reverse top three seed, they are highlighted in green. When they are guaranteed a lottery pick, they are highlighted in yellow. When a team clinches a playoff spot, they are no longer a lottery pick, and are highlighted in red.

Updated: May 8, 2021 12:00pm ET