The Thunder’s Guide to the NBA Draft Lottery

Welcome to your guide for Tuesday’s NBA Draft Lottery, where we’ll tell you everything you need to know leading up to the night when all 14 lottery teams will learn their picking order for the June 25 draft.

So without any further adieu, here we go:


While Head Coach Scott Brooks will represent the Thunder on stage at the NBA Entertainment Studios for the nationally televised portion of the lottery (ESPN, 7 p.m. Central), General Manager Sam Presti will actually be the first person to know the organization’s draft position.

Presti will be joined by representatives of the 13 other lottery teams as well as NBA officials and an accounting firm in a separate room prior to the broadcast for the actual drawing.

Fourteen ping pong balls, numbered 1 through 14, will be placed in a drum. There are 1,001 possible combinations when four balls are drawn out of 14, and each team has been assigned a percentage of the combinations based on their won-loss record from the 2008-09 season.

Four balls will be drawn to the top to determine a four-digit combination. The teams that have been assigned that combination will receive the number one pick. The four balls are placed back in the drum and the process is repeated to determine the second and third picks.

The order of selection for the teams that don’t win one of the top three picks will be determined by inverse order of their regular season record. So the Sacramento Kings, owners of the worst record at 17-65, cannot draft any lower than fourth, Washington (19-63) no lower than fifth, the L.A. Clippers (19-63) no lower than sixth and the Thunder (23-59) no lower than seventh.

So, when you see a team representative look surprised or upset on stage, know that those are true emotions; they’re not informed of the draft order prior to the national broadcast.


The Thunder will receive anywhere between the No. 1 through No. 7 draft selections.

By now, you’ve already heard that the Thunder’s odds of landing the top overall pick in the draft are just 11.9 percent.

That’s just a gentler way of saying the Thunder has an 88.1 percent chance of NOT drawing the top pick. So, should the Thunder not receive the top pick, it really shouldn’t come as a surprise.

The Thunder has a 12.57 percent chance of nabbing the second overall pick, a 13.24 percent chance of getting the third pick, a 9.98 percent chance of landing the fourth pick, a 34.99 percent chance of getting the fifth pick (its highest percentage for a pick), a 16.05 percent chance of having the sixth pick and a 1.26 percent chance of ending up with the seventh pick.

But before your brain goes into overdrive with all these possible scenarios, heed this: the Thunder will get a good player wherever it falls in the lottery, whether it keeps or trades the pick. It’s a valuable asset to have. And it’s a pretty simple concept to grasp.

As mentioned earlier, the Thunder will draft no lower than seventh. Dating back to 1989, there’s been several impact players selected at the seven spot, as well as some role players and current budding stars.

Really, this line of thinking can be applied for all 14 lottery picks, because as history has shown us, draft status doesn’t necessarily dictate one’s career. You never know how a player’s career will pan out, whether he’s the first overall pick or the last of the second round.

With that in mind, here’s a few notable players who were drafted seventh overall:

  • Eric Gordon, L.A. Clippers. The explosive guard just wrapped up his rookie campaign by earning All-Rookie Team honors.
  • Nene Hilario, Denver. A 2002 draft pick, Nene has served as a defensive presence during the Nuggets' furthest playoff run in more than a decade.
  • Richard Hamilton, Washington. Hamilton has developed into one of the game’s most durable players and efficient mid-range shooting guards since he was traded to Detroit in 2002.

    The Thunder has its best chance (34.99 percent) at getting the No. 5 pick in this year’s draft. Some of the game’s biggest names today have been drafted fifth, with Kevin Garnett (1995), Ray Allen (’96), Dwyane Wade (’03) and Vince Carter (’98) coming to mind.

    Here’s a few others:

  • Jeff Green, Thunder. The second-year forward greatly improved his three-point shot and saw increases in nearly every major statistical category.
  • Devin Harris, Dallas. A 2004 draft pick, Harris, now with New Jersey, finished second in Most Improved Player voting this season.
  • Jason Richardson, Golden State. Now with his third team, the super athletic Richardson has proven to be an efficient long-range shooter.


    While the actual lottery process takes place behind closed doors, each team usually sends a recognizable face to sit on stage during the national telecast. This year is no exception.

    All the players who will represent their teams onstage have Thunder ties.

    Charlotte’s D.J. Augustin roomed with Kevin Durant at Texas; the Clippers’ Baron Davis is the best friend of Earl Watson; Minnesota’s Kevin Love teamed with Russell Westbrook at UCLA.

    And all three head coaches who will be on stage Tuesday started last season as assistants -- Brooks, Phoenix’s Alvin Gentry and Memphis’ Lionel Hollins.


    Have any more questions about the draft lottery? Feel free to e-mail me below.

    Contact Chris Silva