FAQ: How the NBA Draft Lottery Works

by Cody Cunningham

When is the draft lottery?

This year’s draft lottery will be held on May 14, 2019.

Which teams participate in the draft lottery?

There are 14 teams that participate in the lottery every year as it is only for those who did not qualify for the postseason.

Which picks are decided by the lottery?

Although 14 teams participate in the lottery, only the top four picks are up for grabs.

Which team gets the best odds?

The three teams that finished with the worst win-loss records have the best and equal odds to get the first overall pick in the draft. The percentages decrease from worst record to best record among the remaining 11 teams. If two teams finish with the same record, then they split their odds (such as Phoenix and Cleveland this year).

How is the lottery determined?

Ping pong balls are numbered 1 through 14. There is a four-number combination randomly selected from the lottery machine. The order that the numbers are drawn does not matter. Each team participating in the lottery is assigned specific combination outcomes. There are a total of 1,001 combinations (although if 11-12-13-14 is drawn, it is ignored as it is the only combination not assigned to any team). They continue this process to determine the second, third and fourth pick as well.

What are the Suns chances at winning the draft lottery this year?

The Suns finished tied for the second-lowest winning percentage in the NBA. After losing the tie breaker to Cleveland, they hold the third spot entering Tuesday night. All three of the lowest ranked teams have the same odds of landing the first overall pick and therefore the Suns have 140 combinations assigned to them, giving them a 14 percent chance of receiving the first overall pick in this year’s draft.

Their percentages continue as:

First pick: 14%

Second pick: 13.4%

Third pick: 12.7%

Fourth pick: 11.9%

Fifth pick: 14.8%

Sixth pick: 26%

Seventh pick: 7.1%

What are the odds for each team receiving the first overall pick?

  1. New York: 140 combinations, 14% chance of receiving the No. 1 pick
  2. Cleveland: 140 combinations, 14% chance
  3. Phoenix: 140 combinations, 14% chance
  4. Chicago: 125 combinations, 12.2% chance
  5. Atlanta: 105 combinations, 10.5% chance
  6. Washington: 90 combinations, 9% chance
  7. New Orleans: 60 combinations, 6% chance
  8. Memphis (If not top 8, traded to Boston): 60 combinations, 6% chance
  9. Dallas (If not top 5, traded to Atlanta): 60 combinations, 6% chance
  10. Minnesota: 30 combinations, 3% chance
  11. LA Lakers: 20 combinations, 2% chance
  12. Charlotte: 10 combinations, 1% chance
  13. Miami: 10 combinations, 1% chance
  14. Sacramento (If 1st, goes to Philadelphia. If not, goes to Boston) : 10 combinations, 1% chance

Suns Draft Lottery Party:

4:00 PM – May 14, 2019 – Cold Beers and Cheeseburgers

Arcadia: 3950 E. Indian School Rd. #150 Phoenix AZ, 85018

Gilbert: 4604 S. Higley Rd. #103 Gilbert, AZ 85297

Glendale: 6718 W. Deer Valley Rd. Glendale, AZ 85310

Paradise Valley: 4731 E. Cactus Rd. Phoenix, AZ 85032

RSVP at https://www.nba.com/suns/lottery19

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