NBA Draft

The Ultimate Guide to the NBA Draft Lottery

Matt Cullen

By Matt Cullen

May 15, 2013

Some say that a lot of life is chance.

nba-draft-lottery-quinteventsRegardless if that’s true about life, it’s definitely true about the NBA Draft Lottery!

Unlike traditional sport drafts, the NBA Draft Lottery is the first of its kind! Under traditional methods, the Draft order is determined based on how teams finished the previous season. For example, if a team finishes with the worst record in the NFL, they are granted the first pick in the draft. The same goes for the NHL, MLB and many other major sports leagues.

However, the NBA Draft Lottery turns traditional drafting methods on its head. Here’s how!

How it Works

I was pretty good at my times tables in elementary school, but by no means am I a mathematician!

To completely understand how the NBA Draft Lottery works there is a “highly technical” and “somewhat simple” way to understand how the process works. I’ve included both explanations below!

“Highly Technical” Description of NBA Draft Lottery – The Whole Book

14 teams are entered into the NBA Draft Lottery. These 14 teams are ranked in reverse order of their regular season record and are assigned the following number of chances:

NBA Draft Lottery Odds

In the new system, 14 numbered ping pong balls are placed in a lottery machine and four balls are randomly selected from the lot. This process is verified with a witness, ensuring that all 14 balls are represented once as they are placed in the lottery machine.

The balls are placed in the machine for 20 seconds to randomize before selection. The first ball is selected and the remaining three balls are drawn at 10-second intervals. The four numbers drawn represent the winning combination and that franchise is awarded the #1 overall draft pick.

Attend the NBA Draft

The four balls are then returned to the machine and the process is repeated for the second and third overall picks. In the event that a combination belongs to a team that has already won its pick, the round is repeated until a unique team winner is determined. When the first three teams have been determined, the remaining 11 lottery picks are given out based on regular season record with the worst teams getting the highest picks.

This process ensures that no lottery team can drop more than three sports from its projected draft position.

“Somewhat Simple” Description of NBA Draft Lottery – Clift Notes Edition

  • 14 Ping pong balls, numbered 1-14, are placed in a lottery machine
  • 1000 Different four digit number outcomes can occur
    • Certain number of outcomes given to 14 NBA Lottery team
    • Largest number of outcomes awarded to Worst Team
    • Second largest number of outcomes awarded to 2nd Worst Team
    • So on and so forth for the 14 NBA Lottery teams
  • Four balls are selected at random
    • The team with this 4-digit combination is awarded the first pick
  • The four balls go back into the machine and this process is repeated for the second and third overall picks
  • Picks 4-14 are determined by the remaining team’s final regular season record
    • Worst team gets the higher pick and so on.

Congratulations! You are now a NBA Draft Lottery Expert!

What are the Odds in 2013

The 2013 NBA Draft Lottery is set for May 21st. Now that you are a Lottery expert, here is a breakdown of this year’s Lottery teams, records, and chances of getting the number one overall pick.

2013 NBA Draft Order resized 600

Who do you think will be the first person selected in the 2013 NBA Draft? Tell us your pick below!