Nov 5, 2013; Auburn Hills, MI, USA; Indiana Pacers small forward Paul George (24) dribbles the ball up the court during the third quarter against the Detroit Pistons at The Palace of Auburn Hills. The Pacers beat the Pistons 99-91. Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

NBA Draft Lottery 2013: How It Works


NBA Draft Lottery 2013 will be taking place Tuesday evening and 14 NBA franchises and its fans are eagerly awaiting the results. Most have a pretty good idea of what the rules of the lottery are, but in case you need a reminder on the details, here is an attempt to break it all down in simple terms.

All 14 teams that didn’t make the playoffs during the regular season are part of the lottery. These teams will be picking 1st through 14th in the draft, unless a team has traded its pick. If a team has indeed traded its pick, whoever owns the pick still assumes the chances of winning of the actual lottery team to whom the pick originally belonged to.

Teams are ranked based on record. The team with the worst record in the regular season has the highest chance of landing the first overall pick, the second-worst record has the second highest chance to win, and so on.

Then, 14 ping-pong balls are numbered 1 through 14 and put into a spinning lottery machine. Four balls are drawn, creating a combination. The order in which the balls are drawn is irrelevant — 1-2-3-4 would be the exact same as 4-3-2-1. In total, there are 1001 potential combinations, one of which is disregarded. The rest of the combinations are randomly assigned to all lottery teams. The team with the worst record receives the most combinations, and thus has a higher chance of winning the lottery than the other 13 teams. Here are the percentages:

  1. 250 combinations, 25.0% chance (Orlando Magic)
  2. 199 combinations, 19.9% chance (Charlotte Bobcats)
  3. 156 combinations, 15.6% chance (Cleveland Cavaliers)
  4. 119 combinations, 11.9% chance (Phoenix Suns)
  5. 88 combinations, 8.8% chance (New Orleans Hornets/Pelicans)
  6. 63 combinations, 6.3% chance (Sacramento Kings)
  7. 43 combinations, 4.3% chance (Detroit Pistons)
  8. 28 combinations, 2.8% chance (Washington Wizards)
  9. 17 combinations, 1.7% chance (Minnesota Timberwolves)
  10. 11 combinations, 1.1% chance (Portland Trail Blazers)
  11. 8 combinations, 0.8% chance (Philadelphia 76ers)
  12. 7 combinations, 0.7% chance (Toronto Raptors)
  13. 6 combinations, 0.6% chance (Dallas Mavericks)
  14. 5 combinations, 0.5% chance (Utah Jazz)

Basically, the team with the worst record always has a 25% chance to receive the first overall pick. The lottery machine determines a combination, and if that combination is one of the 250 that has been distributed to the team with the worst record, that team gets the first pick. This is repeated for the first three picks, and if a team that has already been rewarded one of the first picks is drawn again, the process is repeated until three different teams have been rewarded with the first through third picks.

After that, the picks are based on your record. So, if the team that has the highest probability of winning the lottery is unfortunate enough to not receive a top-3 pick, that team will pick fourth. As such, the team with the worst record cannot pick lower than fourth, the team with the second-worst record cannot pick lower than fifth, and so on.

If you have any questions about the lottery process, leave a comment below.

Stay tuned to KJG for more NBA Draft Lottery news and updates.

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@VytisLasaitis

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