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NBA

How does the NBA draft lottery work and what is the format?

The NBA draft lottery is one way to level the playing field by giving cellar-dwelling teams a chance to improve their lineup and their eventual rankings.

Gidget Alikpala
Update:
The NBA draft lottery is one way to level the playing field by giving cellar-dwelling teams a chance to improve their lineup and their eventual rankings.

The NBA draft gives teams a chance to revamp and infuse new blood into their lineup, and the lottery adds a little twist to the process.

NBA lottery draft: Worst 14 teams get a crack at No. 1

Instead of automatically assigning the top draft pick to the team with the worst record, the drawing of numbers gives all 14 teams that didn’t make it to the playoffs a chance to make the first selection.

The actual lottery only determines which team gets the top four picks. The rest of the selections are awarded depending on the franchise’s record in the previous season.

The raffle involves 14 ping pong balls, each of them bearing a number from one to 14. When four balls are drawn, there are a thousand possible number combinations, without taking into account the order in which they are pulled out.

NBA lottery draft: Best odds for the bottom three

The three worst teams will each be given 140 of these four-number combinations (think of each number as a lottery ticket), giving them more chances than the other eleven teams to get the top draft pick. All three will have a 14% probability of winning the top selection.

The first combination that is pulled out will acquire the number one draft pick, and the subsequent three ping pong ball combos will get the second to the fourth.

After the four top picks are drawn, the other teams will make the remaining 10 selections (numbers five to 19), in inverse order of their regular-season record.

The balls will be drawn behind closed doors before the ESPN broadcast, and only NBA officials, a member of the media, and a representative of the Ernst & Young accounting company will witness the proceedings in person. Representatives of the 14 teams will join the lottery virtually.

Ernst & Young will put the results in sealed envelopes, which will then be brought to the studio so that they can be announced to the public.

You can find the odds for all 14 teams in the draft lottery here.

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