NBA Draft Lottery Odds for Every Team and History

Kevin Stott

Wednesday, April 29, 2015 6:08 PM GMT

The 2015 NBA Draft Lottery will be held in private on May 19 in New York City and will then be revealed either before or at Halftime of an NBA Playoff game that day. So, what are the actual odds for the 14 teams which didn’t make the NBA Playoffs this season and what has history taught us about this process?

Introduction
When the Cleveland Cavaliers “won” last year’s NBA Draft Lottery by landing The #1 Pick with just a 1.7% chance (17 of 1,000 chances), it showed that this annual Ping Pong Thing the NBA does for the league’s 14 teams who don’t make the NBA Playoffs—every team that didn’t make this postseason has a chance at winning a Top 3 Pick with teams with worse records obviously having more chances—really does deserve to be called a Lottery and really has proven to be random, and sometimes almost beneficial to those having just a 1.7% to chance the land that Top Pick (The Bulls did just that in 2008 getting Derrick Rose at #1, while the Cavaliers also did so last year and ended up picking Andrew Wiggins). With that oh-so lucky Luck of the proverbial, and in this case, literal, Draw, the Cavaliers (1/2 NBA odds to win Eastern Conference, GTBets)—now awaiting a Round 2 series with the winner of the Chicago Bulls-Milwaukee Bucks Round 1 series, currently led by the Bulls 3-2 (Game #6 Wednesday, at Milwaukee; Odds: Bulls -3, 187½; Bulls -155, Bucks +135 GTBets)—who finished the 2013 Regular Season with a 24-58 record—selected Andrew Wiggins (Kansas) with that #1 Pick and then ended up trading Mr. Wiggins—likely to be this season’s NBA Rookie of the Year winner—to the Minnesota Timberwolves (these kind of things happen a lot on NBA Draft night) who not coincidentally, are also in this NBA Draft Lottery by way of their NBA-worst 16-66 Regular season mark this past 2014/2015 NBA Season, which will give them the best chance (25%, 25 of 1,000 chances) of the 14 teams at snagging this year’s #1 Pick when the NBA Draft Lottery is held on May 19 at Halftime of some NBA Playoff game.

By contrast, the season before, the Cavaliers finished with a 24-58 record and had a much better 15.6% chance (156 of 1,000 chances) of landing the #1 Pick, where Cleveland selected Anthony Bennett (UNLV), whom it also ended up shipping to the lowly Timberwolves. But that little lesson right there also shows you something: You can end up getting really Lucky like the Cavaliers did last year (1.7% chance of landing #1 Pick in NBA Draft Lottery) and end up having a better #1 Pick and actually select a guy like the talented Wiggins, or, you can have a much better better chance (15.6%) of getting that #1—and then get it—and can then end up getting a potential lifetime project like Bennett seems to be. And another odd lesson: The recent trend is that #1 Pick is a Tall Guy Whose Name starts With ‘An’ who gets chosen by the Cavaliers and then quickly shipped north to Minneapolis and the Minnesota Timberwolves for something of value (in the process they ended up getting the now-injured Kevin Love), a crate of Prince CDs and 14 Juicy Lucys.

 

The 14 NBA Teams Who Have a Chance at Landing #1 Lottery Pick and Odds
1—Minnesota Timberwolves 25% (250 of 1,000 chances)

2—New York Knicks 19.9% (199 of 1,000 chances)

3—Philadelphia 76ers 15.6% (156 of 1,000 chances)

4—Los Angeles Lakers 11.9% (119 of 1,000 chances)

5—Orlando Magic 8.8% (88 of 1,000 chances)

6—Sacramento Kings 6.3% (63 of 1,000 chances)

7—Denver Nuggets 4.3% (43 of 1,000 chances)

8—Detroit Pistons 2.8% (28 of 1,000 chances)

9—Charlotte Hornets 1.7% (17 of 1,000 chances)

10—Miami Heat 1.1% (11 of 1,000 chances)

11—Indiana Pacers 0.8% (8 of 1,000 chances)

12—Utah Jazz 0.7% (7 of 1,000 chances)

13—Phoenix Suns 0.6% (6 of 1,000 chances)

14—Oklahoma City Thunder 0.5% (5 of 1,000 chances)

 

NBA Draft Lotto Winners By the Different Slot Positions
Slot #1: Won #1—2 times, Won #2—9 times, Won #3—5 times (Total Top 3 Slots: 16)

Slot #2: Won #1—1 time, Won #2—2 times, Won #3—6 times (Total Top 3 Slots: 9)

Slot #3: Won #1—6 times, Won #2—1 time, Won #3—2 times (Total Top 3 Slots: 9)

Slot #4: Won #1—2 times, Won #2—2 times, Won #3—3 times (Total Top 3 Slots: 7)

Slot #5: Won #1—4 times, Won #2—3 times, Won #3—2 times (Total Top 3 Slots: 9)

Slot #6: Won #1—2 times, Won #2—3 times, Won #3—1 time (Total Top 3 Slots: 6)

Slot #7: Won #1—1 time, Won #2— 0 times, Won #3—0 times (Total Top 3 Slots: 1)

Slot #8: Won #1—1 time, Won #2—1 time, Won #3—1 time (Total Top 3 Slots: 3)

Slot #9: Won #1—2 times, Won #2—0 times, Won #3—0 times (Total Top 3 Slots: 2)

Slot #10: Won #1—0 times, Won #2—0 times, Won #3—0 times (Total Top 3 Slots: 0)

Slot #11: Won #1—0 times, Won #2—0 times, Won #3—0 times (Total Top 3 Slots: 0)

Slot #12: Won #1—0 times, Won #2—0 times, Won #3—0 times (Total Top 3 Slots: 0)

Slot #13: Won #1—0 times, Won #2—0 times, Won #3—1 time (Total Top 3 Slots: 1)

 

Past 15  NBA Draft Lottery Years with Team’s Odds and Players Selected at #1
2014—Cleveland Cavaliers 1.7% (17 of 1,000 chances)—Andrew Wiggins (Kansas)

2013—Cleveland Cavaliers 15.6% (156 of 1,000 chances)—Anthony Bennett (UNLV)

2012—New Orleans Pelicans 13.7% (137 of 1,000 chances)—Anthony Davis (Kentucky)

2011—Los Angeles Clippers 2.8% (28 of 1,000 chances)—Kyrie Irving* (Duke)

2010—Washington Wizards 10.3% (103 of 1,000 chances)—John Wall (Kentucky)

2009—Los Angeles Clippers 17.7% (177 of 1,000 chances)—Blake Griffin (Oklahoma)

2008—Chicago Bulls 1.7% (17 of 1,000 chances)—Derrick Rose (Memphis)

2007—Portland Trail Blazers 5.3% (53 of 1,000 chances)—Greg Oden (Ohio State)

2006—Toronto Raptors 8.8% (88 of 1,000 chances)—Andrea Bargnani (Italy)

2005—Milwaukee Bucks 16.3% (63 of 1,000 chances)—Andrew Bogut (Utah)

2004—Orlando Magic 25% (250 of 1,000 chances)—Dwight Howard (Atlanta Christian Academy)

2003—Cleveland Cavaliers 22.5% (225 of 1,000 chances)—LeBron James (St. Vincent-St. Mary)

2002—Houston Rockets 8.9% (89 of 1,000 chances)—Yao Ming (China)

2001—Washington Wizards 15.7% (157 of 1,000 chances)—Kwame Brown (Italy)

2000—New Jersey Nets 4.4% (44 of 1,000 chances)—Kenyon Martin (Cincinnati)

* Traded to Cleveland Cavaliers

 

Conclusions
As you will see, the #7, #10, #11, #12, #13 and #14 slots all really suck if you really want to try to draft someone good (if they’re available) the seasons you do land in the NBA Draft Lottery. We did our own little Mock Draft her at Sportsbook Review last week, and all you really need to do to to see how important the NBA Draft Lottery and the subsequent NBA Draft (Thursday, June 25, New York City (ESPN, 7 p.m. ET/4 p.m. PT) is to take a look at the Cavaliers to see how crucial and beneficial the NBA Draft can be in rebuilding a winning professional basketball team. But, once again, it also depends on who is available that particular season—often a somewhat random thing—and it’s important for the 14 NBA teams to do their homework heading in because there is a massive difference between drafting a guy like LeBron James (like the Cleveland Cavaliers did in 2003) and Kwame Brown (as the Washington Wizards did two years earlier in 2001).

The actual drawing of the ping pong balls for the NBA Draft Lottery takes place in a private, but is overseen and observed by independent auditors as well as representatives from each of the NBA’s 30 clubs. The results of this private drawing—to be held on Tuesday, May 19 this year, as mentioned—are then revealed usually during Halftime of an NBA Playoffs game. The little (ESPN) telecast reveals the 14 teams selected in dramatic reverse order, so when you see who #2 is, you immediately know who will be getting the #1 Pick, and therefore, which team has “won” the NBA Draft Lottery. A cheap thrill indeed unless your team gets in and then it’s absolutely the greatest thing since sliced bread, brother. We are a weird species.

This year, big Freshmen like Karl-Anthony Towns (Kentucky) and Jahlil Okafor (Duke) as well as other talented (amateur) players like Justise Winslow (Duke), D’Angelo Russell (Ohio State), Emmanuel Mudiay (China), Willie-Cauley Stein (Kentucky), Mario Hezonja (Spain), Kevon Looney (UCLA), RJ Hunter (Georgia State), Myles Turner (Texas), Frank Kaminsky (Wisconsin), Stanley Johnson (Arizona) and Kristaps Portingas (Latvia) are all likely to be among the top picks in the Big Apple in late June. So for now, speculating on who will finish in what order (1-14) in the NBA Draft Lottery is really a moot point as history shows.

NBA PLAYOFFS ROUND 1 GAME PICK: Take the Brooklyn Nets +9 over the Atlanta Hawks with your NBA picks (GTBets)