I was pretty confused about the protected lottery pick and what the chances of different scenarios for the Blazers would be. Of course, there are two unknowns at this point: New Jersey's eventual record and the bounce of those ping pong balls. I decided to calculate the probabilities under all possible scenarios. Well, not quite all. If NJ manages to make the playoffs, obviously the Blazers just get their pick straight up. Also, if NJ has the same record as one or more other teams, the odds change a bit. Finally, if the lottery is actually rigged, then a different analysis is needed. I leave the last as an exercise readers. I would suggest a game theory approach. Without further ado, the big board:
The numbers 1-14 on the x-axis indicate NJ's initial position in the lottery (1 is worst record in league, 2 is 2nd worst, etc.). The total height of each column represents the probability that Portland gets the pick (i.e. that the pick is out of the top 3) given NJ's lottery position. The height of each colored segment shows the overall probability of Portland getting a specific pick. For example, if NJ had the worst record in the league, the Blazers still would have a 35.7% chance of getting the pick (and it would have to be the 4th pick). If NJ finished where they are today with the 6th worst record, Portland would have a 78.5% total chance of receiving the pick (43.9% chance of 6th pick + 30.5% 7th + 4% 8th + 0.1% 9th).
Whether you should root for or against NJ depends on how risk averse you are. NJ finishing dead last would actually give Portland the best odds of getting the 4th pick but also the greatest chance of not getting the pick this year. NJ finishing around 8th is a pretty safe spot, all but guaranteeing the Blazers a top 10 pick in this year's draft (90% chance).
Where would you like to see the Nets finish?
source for lottery odds: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/NBA_Draft_Lottery