NBA Draft Lottery Ins & Outs

4 GIFs that sum up the Clippers’ 2018 Draft Lottery
by Clippers Digital

LOS ANGELES — With a little luck, Clippers fans may be one day removed from potentially the next big moment in Clippers franchise history.

The NBA Draft Lottery is set for Tuesday in Chicago. It’s the day that franchises and their fans learn where they will pick in the June NBA Draft, and annually, it’s the day that gives franchises and their fans a glimpse into the future.

But how does that draft lottery work? How does the NBA determine which teams pick where? How does a team’s record factor into where it picks?

And where will the Clippers land this season?

Below are the answers to all the pressing questions regarding the NBA’s draft lottery:

Lottery Procedure

Responsive image

There are 14 lottery teams each season. Denise Pelli, a partner in the accounting firm Ernst & Young, oversees the entire process.

In a quarantined back room (no cell phones), 14 lottery balls are mixed in a lottery machine. A timekeeper faces away from the lottery machine and informs the machine operator when to stop the machine. One ball is removed after 20 seconds. The remaining balls are mixed for 10 seconds and then another is removed. That process is repeated until four balls have been removed. There are 1,000 4-ball combinations held by the 14 lottery teams, and the team that owns the first 4-ball combination chosen will win the first pick.

The same process is repeated for the second and third picks. Once the top three are set, picks 4-14 are determined by inverse order based on team record, with ties previously settled.

Once the order is set in the back room, slots are revealed from 14-1 on the stage featuring each team’s representative.

Lottery odds

Responsive image

The team with the worst record last season has the highest lottery odds and consequently, owns the most 4-ball combinations. The lottery team with the best record last season has the lowest lottery odds and owns the fewest 4-ball combinations.

4-ball combinations
Cleveland (via BKN)
New York
LA Lakers
LA Clippers

Clippers’ Draft Scenarios

Responsive image

As a part of their Jan. 29 trade with Detroit, the Clippers will acquire the Pistons’ first round draft pick as long as it does not land in the top three picks.

Below are the draft odds for each team regarding where it's picks could land:

Clippers Scenarios:

Pistons Scenarios:

1st pick 0.6%
2nd pick 0.71%
3rd pick 0.87%
13th pick 96.03%
14th pick 1.79%
1st pick 0.7%
2nd pick 0.83%
3rd pick 1.01%
12th pick 93.54%
13th pick 3.9%
14th pick 0.02%

*Cannot land picks 4-12
based on record

*Cannot land picks 4-11
based on record

In conclusion, based on the odds, the Pistons have a 2.5% chance of keeping their first round pick and the Clippers have a 97.5% chance of acquiring it. At the same time, LA is guaranteed either the 13th or 14th pick, meaning the Clippers will most likely have two lottery picks for the first time since the 2002 NBA Draft.

Responsive image