The much-maligned “process” has led to three straight seasons of less than 20 wins for the Philadelphia 76ers, yielding very little in the way of marquee young players. There’s a good chance that will change on Tuesday night, when the NBA’s worst team enters the 32nd annual NBA Draft Lottery with the best odds to win the No.1 overall pick.
There have been no modifications from last year's drawing, though the announcement of the results will be made by NBA Deputy Commissioner Mark Tatum, according to NBA.com. Kiki Vandeweghe, NBA senior vice-president of basketball operations, provided a detailed breakdown of the lottery rules last year.
"Here's how the lottery works," said Vandeweghe. "We'll place 14 ping-pong balls numbered one through 14 in this glass drum. Lou DiSabatino, NBA vice-president of event operations, will mix them up for 20 seconds and then draw one ball to the top. Kyle Yelencsics from NBA event operations is our official time keeper tonight. He will face away from the machine and signal Lou when to draw the balls.
"I will then take the ball out, announce the number and place it in the side-holding tube. We'll repeat the process in 10-second intervals for the second, third and fourth ball, and then check to see which team was assigned that four-ball combination—that team will be awarded the first pick of the 2015 NBA Draft.
"The process will be repeated for the second pick and then again for the third pick. If the same team comes up more than once, we will reset the machine and draw again for that pick. When we have three different teams winning the first, second and third pick, the lottery is over. We only draw for the top three picks. The remaining 11 teams are then slotted four through 14 based on their regular-season finish.
"There are 1,001 possible combinations when you draw four numbers from 14 balls without regard to order. One thousand of these combinations have been divided and assigned to the 14 lottery teams based on the inverse order of their regular-season records. Minnesota (the team with the worst record in 2015) is assigned the most combinations, 250, giving them a 25 percent chance to win the top pick. The combinations are assigned sequentially on the look-up boards ... and then each team's odds of winning the No. 1 pick are listed on the monitor.
"The 1,001st combination, 11-12-13-14, is not assigned. If that order is drawn, we'll put the balls back in the machine and draw again. Should we encounter a problem with the machine that can't be fixed, there is a back-up scenario in place. We'll draw the remaining balls from this hat basketball. If any balls picked were already drawn through the machine, we'll keep those balls and draw the rest of that pick using the hat basketball."
The machine used to draw the ping-pong balls is manufactured by the Smart Play Company, which provides the machines for many state lotteries. The accounting firm of Ernst & Young oversees and verifies the draft.
In 2015, the Timberwolves had the best odds to win the lottery and won the top pick.
Philadelphia has a 25 percent chance to win the lottery, and better than a 64 percent chance to land a top-three selection. At worst, the 76ers will end up with the No.4 pick, and the team could potentially end the night with two top-four selections.
Because of a trade that occurred in the summer of 2012, the Los Angeles Lakers’ first-round pick will go to Philadelphia if it doesn’t fall within the top three. The Lakers originally sent the pick, which is top-three protected, to the Phoenix Suns in exchange for Steve Nash. Just before the 2015 trade deadline, the Suns traded the selection to the 76ers in a three-team deal that also included former Philadelphia first-round pick Michael Carter-Williams going to the Milwaukee Bucks.
Losing the pick could be disastrous for the Lakers. The 16-time champions are coming off the worst season in franchise history, having finished with just 17 wins, and young stars are considered a key bargaining tool to attract top free agents this summer. The Lakers have the second-best chance to win the lottery, and they would likely select either LSU’s Ben Simmons or Duke’s Brandon Ingram with a top-two pick.
The New York Knicks would be in the draft lottery had it not been for a trade they made three years ago. In acquiring Andrea Bargnani from the Toronto Raptors, the Knicks dealt away their first-round selection. But the Raptors will be forced to trade draft spots with the Denver Nuggets, who are also in the lottery. The Nuggets were given the right to swap first-round picks with the Knicks in the 2016 draft, as part of the Carmelo Anthony trade that dates all the way back to 2011.
The Big Apple’s other NBA team was also forced to give up their lottery selection because of an ill-fated trade they made years ago. Shortly after the Knicks traded for Bargnani, the Brooklyn Nets acquired Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Jason Terry from the Boston Celtics. As part of the deal, the Celtics received Brooklyn’s first-round picks in 2014, 2016 and 2018, as well as the right to swap picks in 2017.
With Brooklyn winning just 21 games in 2015-2016, the Celtics have the third-best chance to win the No.1 pick, even though they made the postseason with 48 regular-season wins. The Nets went as far as the conference semifinals in the year after making the blockbuster trade, and they’ve become one of the NBA’s worst teams with no high draft picks in sight. A lack of young talent is considered the biggest roadblock for new general manager Sean Marks.
The Washington Wizards missed the playoffs, but their lottery selection went to the Phoenix Suns in a deal that sent Markieff Morris to Washington D.C. in February. The selection is top-nine protected, and it has less than a one percent chance of becoming the No.1 overall pick.
The Sacramento Kings have a 2.8 percent chance of winning the lottery, but they won’t keep the pick if the unlikely happens. Philadelphia has the option to swap first-round picks with Sacramento because of a deal that the two teams made last summer involving Nick Stauskas and Carl Landry.
Start Time: 8 p.m. ET
TV Channel: ESPN
Online Stream: WatchESPN