2020 NBA Draft Lottery: Wizards odds, details

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The 2020 NBA Draft Lottery will be held virtually on August 20 at 8:30 P.M. on ESPN. The lottery, as usual, will determine the order of picks 1-14 in October’s NBA Draft. The presentation, however, will be unusual, the latest event adapted by the NBA to fit an extraordinary set of circumstances.

Here, we run though everything you need to know – including a layout of the odds, where the Wizards can land and how the event actually works – before Thursday’s lottery.


The 2020 NBA Draft Lottery will be the second lottery since the league revamped the distribution of odds among the 14 lottery teams. Odds are now more smoothly spread among the teams near the top of the lottery with teams 1-3 (Golden State, Cleveland and Minnesota) receiving the same odds to pick in spots 1-4 (14.0%, 13.4%, 12.7% and 12.0%). With the worst record in the league and the best lottery odds, the Warriors will pick no later than fifth.

Rather than offering the 14 teams the chance to jump into the top three, as the lottery did before 2019, the lottery now offers any of the 14 lottery teams the chance to move up into the top four.

The odds for all 14 lottery teams descend based on their final non-playoff record. One catch unique to this season: no team that participated in the league’s restart in Orlando could improve its lottery positioning over a team that did not. Therefore, the Wizards’ drop from 22nd to 24th in the league standings will not be reflected as the two teams Washington fell past (Charlotte and Chicago) did not play any seeding games.


With the ninth-best odds in the lottery, the Wizards have a chance to select anywhere from 1-4 and 9-13. Washington’s most likely scenario is staying put, a 50.7% chance of picking at number nine. If any of the five teams below them jump, there is a chance they could slide below nine. The Wizards have a 25.9% chance of picking 10th, a 3.0% chance of picking 11th and a 0.1-or-less percent chance of picking either 12th or 13th.

Washington’s odds of jumping into the top four, however, are real. Combining their odds to land in any one of spots 1-4, the Wizards have a 20.3% chance of making the leap every team hopes for on lottery night. Washington has a 5.7% chance to pick fourth, a 5.2% chance to pick third, a 4.8% chance to pick second and a 4.5% chance to pick first overall.

10 years after winning the lottery and jumping to the number one spot to select John Wall, the Wizards are hoping to replicate some of that good fortune.


From NBA.com, here’s a full explainer on how the bouncing ping-pong balls and number combinations determine the draft order:

“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. Before 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 before 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, and then the first ball is removed. The remaining balls are mixed in the lottery machine for another 10 seconds, and then the 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 No. 1 pick. The same process is repeated with the same ping-pong balls and lottery machine for the second through fourth picks.”

“If the same team comes up more than once, the result is discarded and another four-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.”