History can only suggest that the odds are in the Suns favor this year when it comes to the NBA Draft Lottery. Entering their 50th season, the Suns have impressively only been eligible for the first overall pick 14 times. The Suns have moved up twice (1986, 1987) and fallen three times (1988, 1999, 2013), but have never received the number one selection.
The Suns currently hold the second best odds to landthe first overall pick. As this is their 15th chance, it’s about time the ping pong balls bounced their way.
In 1969 the coin flip rule, which determined the first overall selection until 1985, resulted in one of the biggest what-if moments in Suns history. The two teams with the worst record in their divisions, Phoenix and Milwaukee, competed by flipping an actual coin. The Suns having had the worst record in the league got to call the flip. The Suns called heads, sending first overall pick Lew Alcindor (Kareem Abdul-Jabbar) to the Bucks. The Suns selected Neal Walk at two.
The Suns landed back in the lottery in 1986, when they changed the draft system to allow every non-playoff team the same odds to land the first overall pick. Finishing with the seventh worst record, the Suns were able to move up one spot to select William Bedford. Brad Daugherty went to Cleveland with the first overall pick that season.
The following year, the Suns had one of the luckiest moments in franchise history when they moved up from seventh to second to select Armen Gilliam, with David Robinson going to San Antonio at one.
Since that selection in 1987, the Suns have never moved up in the draft. The next season saw Phoenix fall from the fifth pick to the seventh, where they drafted Tim Perry. Danny Manning went first overall to the Los Angeles Clippers.
The Suns avoided the lottery for the next 11 years and during that time a new system came into play. The modern system grants a higher percent chance based on W-L record at the first overall pick and only puts the top three picks in play. Here is how the Suns have fared in the current lottery:
1999: Fell from pick eight to nine (3.6% chance at first overall). Selected Shawn Marion (Elton Brand went first overall to LAC).
2002: Stayed at pick nine (1.5% chance at first overall). Selected Amar’e Stoudemire (Yao Ming went first overall to HOU).
2004: Stayed at pick seven (6.4% chance at first overall). Selected Loul Deng (Dwight Howard went first overall to ORL).
2009: Stayed at pick fourteen (.5% chance at first overall). Selected Earl Clark (Blake Griffin went first overall to LAC).
2011: Stayed at pick thirteen (.6% chance at first overall). Selected Markieff Morris (Kyrie Irving went first overall to CLE).
2012: Stayed at pick thirteen (.6% chance at first overall). Selected Kendall Marshall (Anthony Davis went first overall to NOP).
2013: Fell from pick four to pick five (11.9% chance at first overall). Selected Alex Len (Anthony Bennett went first overall to CLE).
2014: Stayed at pick fourteen (.5% chance at first overall). Selected T.J. Warren (Andrew Wiggins went first overall to CLE).
2015: Stayed at pick thirteen (.6% chance at first overall). Selected Devin Booker (Karl-Anthony Towns went first overall to MIN).
2016: Stayed at pick four (11.9% chance at first overall). Selected Dragan Bender (Ben Simmons went first overall to PHI).