Tonight is the night. At 8 PM EST, 14 of the league’s bottom teams will get together in New York for the 32nd NBA Draft Lottery with the hopes of landing a top-5 pick and the chance to bring on a franchise changing player.
How It Works
Unlike the NFL, having the worst record from the prior season doesn’t guarantee you the number one overall pick. The NBA is very peculiar, and, instead, uses ping pong balls to decide where teams pick. Out of the 30 organizations, the 14 with the worst records are represented in the lottery. There are 1,000 possible combinations for the ping pong balls to create which are then split among the teams.
If your team has the worst record in the league, you have a slight advantage. With the worst record comes the most possible combinations — 250, for a 25% chance of landing the first pick; the team with the best record of the 14 is given just five combinations.
Since the first draft lottery in 1985, there have been just four instances where the team with the worst record got the first overall pick: LA Clippers in 1988, NJ Nets in 1990, Cavaliers in 2003, and Minnesota in 2015.
2016 NBA Draft Lottery Odds
- Philadelphia 76ers: 10-72, 25.0%
- Los Angeles Lakers: 17-65, 19.9%
- Brooklyn Nets (to Boston): 21-61, 15.6%
- Phoenix Suns: 23-59, 11.9%
- Minnesota Timberwolves: 29-53, 8.8%
- New Orleans Pelicans: 30-52, 6.3%
- New York Knicks: 32-50, 4.3%
- Sacramento Kings: 33-49, 1.9%
- Denver Nuggets: 33-49, 1.9%
- Milwaukee Bucks: 33-49, 1.8%
- Orlando Magic: 35-47, 0.8%
- Utah Jazz: 40-42, 0.7%
- Washington Wizards: 41-41, 0.6%
- Chicago Bulls: 42-40, 0.5%
Notes (via RealGM):
*BKN: Pick is automatically given to the Celtics after the trade for Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce back in 2013.
*CHI/SAC: If the Kings’ pick lands outside the top-10 it’s given to the Bulls.
*DEN/NYK: Denver can swap picks with the Knicks as part of the Carmelo Anthony trade.
*LAL/PHI: If the Lakers’ pick falls outside of the top-3, the Sixers get it.
*MIL/MINN/NOP/ORL: All own their picks outright.
*PHX/WSH: If the Wizards’ pick lands outside the top-10 — which is likely — the Suns will get a second lottery pick.
*TOR: Will get the lower of the picks between Denver and New York; has 0% chance of winning the lottery.