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2018 NBA Draft Lottery: What Will Happen?

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The 2018 NBA Draft Lottery, where ping-pong balls supplant basketballs as the tools of determining supremacy, will be held at the Palmer House Hilton in Chicago on Tuesday, May 15 and will be shown on ESPN beginning approximately 7:00 CDT.

The 34rd annual NBA Draft Lottery will determine the order of selection for the first 14 picks of the 2018 NBA Draft.

The actual Lottery procedure will take place in a separate room just prior to the national broadcast on ESPN. Select media members, NBA officials and representatives of the participating teams and the accounting firm of Ernst & Young will be in attendance for the drawing.

Fourteen ping-pong balls numbered 1 through 14 will be placed in a lottery machine. There are 1,001 possible combinations when four balls are drawn out of 14, without regard to their order of selection. Prior to the lottery, 1,000 of those 1,001 combinations will be assigned to the 14 participating lottery teams.

The lottery machine is manufactured by the Smart Play Company, a leading manufacturer of state lottery machines throughout the United States. Smart Play also weighs, measures and certifies the ping-pong balls prior to the drawing.

The drawing process occurs in the following manner: All 14 balls are placed in the lottery machine and they are mixed for 20 seconds; then the first ball is removed. The remaining balls are mixed in the lottery machine for another 10 seconds, and then second ball is drawn. There is a 10-second mix, and then the third ball is drawn. There is a 10-second mix, and then the fourth ball is drawn. The team that has been assigned that combination will receive the number one pick. The same process is repeated with the same ping-pong balls and lottery machine for the second pick and then again for the third pick.

If the same team comes up more than once, the result is discarded and another 4-ball combination is selected. Also, if the one unassigned combination is drawn, the result is discarded and the balls are drawn again.

The length of time the balls are mixed is monitored by a timekeeper who faces away from the machine and signals the machine operator after the appropriate amount of time has elapsed.

The Phoenix Suns finished the season with the NBA’s worst record (21-61), so the Suns will be assigned the first 250 combinations. The Denver Nuggets, the best team in the lottery at 46-36, will have only five combinations out of 1,000.

The order of selection for the teams that do not win one of the top three picks will be determined by inverse order of their regular-season record. Thus, Phoenix can pick no lower than fourth and Memphis (22-60) no lower than fifth.

Darrington Hobson, a partner in the accounting firm of Ernst & Young, oversees the entire lottery process and stuffs and seals the envelopes prior to bringing them to the studio for the broadcast. The announcement of the Lottery results will be made by NBA Deputy Commissioner Mark Tatum. A second representative from each participating team will be seated on stage. Neither the Deputy Commissioner nor the team representatives on stage will be informed of the Lottery results prior to the opening of the envelopes.

The team whose logo is in the last envelope opened will pick first in the 2018 NBA Draft, to be held on Thursday, June 21 at Barclays Center.

NBA Draft Order Prior to the Lottery

The following are the 14 teams in the 2018 NBA Draft Lottery who did not qualify for the 2018 NBA Playoffs. Each team will be assigned a certain number of combinations out of 1,000. The third column below lists the number of combinations each team will have in the NBA Draft Lottery. The three columns on the right list the percentage chances that each team will have of getting the 1st, 2nd or 3rd pick.

Team Record Lottery Chances (Out of 1,000) Pick 1 Pick 2 Pick 3
1. Phoenix 21-61 250 25.00% 21.48% 17.73%
2. Memphis 22-60 199 19.90% 18.79% 17.07%
3. Dallas 24-58 138 13.80% 14.25% 14.54%
4. Atlanta 24-58 137 13.70% 14.16% 14.48%
5. Orlando 25-57 88 8.80% 9.64% 10.65%
6. Chicago 27-55 53 5.30% 6.02% 6.96%
7. Sacramento 27-55 53 5.30% 6.02% 6.96%
8. Cleveland (via BKN) 28-54 28 2.80% 3.26% 3.88%
9. New York 29-53 17 1.70% 2.00% 2.40%
10. LA Lakers 35-47 11 1.10% 1.30% 1.57%
11. Charlotte 36-46 8 0.80% 0.95% 1.15%
12. Detroit (b) 37-45 7 0.70% 0.83% 1.01%
13. LA Clippers 42-40 6 0.60% 0.71% 0.87%
14. Denver 46-36 5 0.50% 0.59% 0.72%

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