Schedule, Odds and How it Works

The NBA Draft Lottery determines the order of selection for the NBA Draft. This is how it works:

Which teams are participating in the 2020 Draft Lottery?

The 14 teams that did not make it to the 2020 postseason are eligible for the lottery. Below are the odds for teams in the 2020 NBA Draft Lottery, presented by State Farm.

Golden condition > 14.00%
Cleveland > 14.00%
Minnesota > 14.00%
Atlanta > 12.50%
Detroit > 10.50%
New York > 9.00%
Chicago > 7.50%
Charlotte > 6.00%
Washington > 4.50%
Phoenix > 3.00%
San Antonio > 2.00%
Sacramento > 1.30%
New Orleans > 1.20%
Memphis* > 0.50%
* This selection may be promoted to Boston

What is the format of the draft lottery?

The NBA Board of Governors approved changes to the lottery system on September 28, 2017.

Under the revised format, the NBA Draft Lottery will ensure that the team with the worst record receives no worse than fifth pick. Under the pre-2019 system, the team with the worst record would pick at least fourth place.

The new system evens the odds at the top of the NBA draft lottery, giving the teams with the three worst records in the regular season each a 14 percent chance of winning the lottery. In the pre-2019 structure, the top seed had 25 percent of the lottery win, the second seed had 19.9 percent, and the third seed had 15.6 percent.

The odds for the remaining entrants in the 14 teams lottery will be gradually reduced after the first three. For example, the difference in lottery odds between the first three seeds (14 percent) and the fourth seed (12.5 percent) is 1.5 percent. The difference between the fourth seed and the fifth seed (10.5 percent) is 2 percent, and the difference between the fifth seed and the sixth seed (9 percent) is 1.5 percent.

After the drawing for the first four picks of the NBA draft has been conducted, the other lottery teams will proceed to pick in reverse order of their regular-season record.

How specifically does it work?

The 2020 NBA Draft Lottery will be held on Thursday, August 20 at 8:30 a.m. ET (ESPN).

The 37th Annual NBA Draft Lottery will determine the order of selection for the top 14 picks of the 2020 NBA Draft. Draws will be conducted to determine the top four picks in the NBA Draft. The rest of the “lottery teams” pick places five through 14 in reverse order of their 2019-20 regular season records. The actual lottery process takes place in a separate room just prior to ESPN’s national broadcast. Selected members of the media, NBA officials and representatives of the participating teams and the accounting firm Ernst & Young will be present at the draws.

Fourteen table tennis balls numbered 1 through 14 are placed in a lottery machine. There are 1,001 possible combinations when four out of 14 balls are drawn, regardless of their order of selection. Before the lottery, 1,000 of these 1,001 combinations are allocated to the 14 participating lottery teams. The lottery machine is manufactured by Smart Play Company, a leading manufacturer of state lottery machines in the United States. Smart Play weighs, measures and certifies the ping pong balls before the draw.

The drawing process is as follows: all 14 balls are placed in the lottery machine and shuffled for 20 seconds, then the first ball is removed. The remaining balls are shuffled in the lottery machine for another 10 seconds, then the second ball is drawn. There is a 10 second mix, then the third ball is drawn. There is a 10 second mix, then the fourth ball is drawn. The team assigned this combination is given number 1. The same process is repeated using the same ping-pong balls and lottery machine for the second through fourth selections.

If the same team appears more than once, the result is discarded and another four-ball combination is chosen. Also, if the one unassigned combination is drawn, the result is discarded and the balls are drawn again. The duration of the mixing of the balls is monitored by a timer, which faces away from the machine and gives a signal to the machine operator when the appropriate time has elapsed.

Darrington Hobson, a partner at accounting firm Ernst & Young, oversees the entire lottery process, stuffing and sealing the envelopes before taking them to the studio for broadcast. The lottery results will be announced by NBA Deputy Commissioner Mark Tatum. A second representative of each participating team will be seated on the stage. Neither the Deputy Commissioner nor the team representatives on stage are informed of the lottery results before the envelopes are opened.

The team whose logo is on the last opened envelope will be the #1 pick in the 2020 NBA Draft taking place on Thursday, June 25 at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, NY

What are the odds of each team winning the Draft Lottery?

The changes introduced for 2020 result in the following odds for teams starting in reverse order of the regular season record.

Team > odds at #1 pick

Team 1 > 14.0%
Team 2 > 14.0%
Team 3 >14.0%
Team 4 > 12.5%
Team 5 > 10.5%
Team 6 > 9.0%
Team 7 > 7.5%
Team 8 > 6.0%
Team 9 > 4.5%
Team 10 > 3.0%
Team 11 > 2.0%
Team 12 > 1.5%
Team 13 > 1.0%
Team 14 > 0.5%

What about picks 15-60?

Draft selections for the remainder of the first round (Nos. 15-30) and all of the second round (Nos. 30-60) are determined in reverse order of the regular season record. Each NBA team receives one first-round pick and one second-round pick.

Who Won the NBA Draft Lottery Last Year?

The New Orleans Pelicans won the lottery in 2019. They would ultimately use that pick to select Zion Williamson.

What is the history of the NBA Draft Lottery and when was it first used?

— 1966-1984: From 1966 to 1984, the NBA team with the worst record at each conference participated in a coin toss. The team that won the coin toss received the #1 pick overall in the NBA draft. The team that lost the coin toss was awarded number 2 overall. The remaining teams chose in reverse order of their regular season records.

— June 1984: The NBA Board of Governors voted to institute a lottery system among non-playoff teams (or teams holding their picks through trades) to determine their picking order in the first round of the NBA Draft beginning in 1985’s Die Teams selected in the second round (or, before the 1989 draft was reduced to two rounds, all subsequent rounds) in reverse order of their regular season records.

— April 1986: Under a procedural change approved by the Board of Governors, the Lottery would only determine the order of selection for the top three teams. The remaining non-playoff teams would pick in reverse order of their regular season records. Therefore, it would be safe for the team with the worst record to finish no worse than fourth, the team with the second worst record to finish fifth, and so on.

— October 1989: The NBA Board of Governors approved a weighted system beginning with the 1990 NBA Draft Lottery, which included 11 teams due to expansion (Charlotte and Miami joined the NBA for the 1988-89 season, and Minnesota and Orlando followed in 1989 -90). The team with the worst record of the regular season was given 11 chances for the top pick (out of 66 total), the second-worst team was given 10 chances, and the team with the best record among non-playoff teams was given a chance.

— November 1993: The NBA Board of Governors approved an amendment that increased the chances of teams with the worst record of winning one of the top three picks with the 1994 NBA Draft Lottery while increasing the chances of teams with the NBA Draft Lottery winning one of the top three picks best records were reduced. The new system increased the chances of the team with the worst record of picking the first pick from 16.7 percent to 25 percent, and it reduced the chances of the team with the best record among lottery teams from 1.5 percent to 0. 5 percent.

— October 1995: The NBA Board of Governors increased the number of teams participating in the lottery from 11 to 13 to accommodate the addition of the Toronto and Vancouver expansion teams. As of 1996, the team with the worst record still had a 25 percent chance of winning the first pick. Teams two through six would have slightly fewer chances, team seven would have the same chances, and teams eight through twelve would have slightly more chances. The number of chances for Team 13 did not change.

— 2004: The 2004 NBA Draft Lottery expanded to 14 teams with the addition of the Charlotte Bobcats. However, as part of their expansion agreement, the Bobcats were drafted fourth in the 2004 NBA draft and therefore had no chance of receiving any other picks in the lottery.

— September 2017: The NBA Board of Governors approved changes to the lottery system effective with the 2019 NBA draft that reduced the odds of winning, giving teams with the three worst records an equal chance (14 percent) of first place overall draft pick. The odds for the remaining entrants in the 14-team lottery would be gradually reduced after the top three. The draws would be conducted for the top four picks of the NBA draft. The other lottery teams would continue to pick in reverse order of their regular season record.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.