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When You Wish Upon a Lottery Ball: 2012 NBA Draft Lottery Preview - Pinwheel Empire

When You Wish Upon a Lottery Ball: 2012 NBA Draft Lottery Preview

submitted 6 years ago by in Game Preview


With the draft lottery just a bit over a week away, its time for us to do a brief preview of the lottery process and possible outcomes.


The Basics:

Date/Time: 5 PM, Wednesday, May 30, 2012.

TV: ESPN/ESPN3 online.


The Lottery Process:


On the day of the draft lottery, about an hour before the lottery results are broadcast the actual lottery is conducted.  The actual lottery is conducted backstage by the accounting firm Ernst and Young with representatives from each team present.  These representatives are forbidden from communicating the results with anyone until after they are aired.


14 lottery balls are used for this draw, and the order in which they are drawn does not matter. This creates 1,001 possible outcomes, one of which is kept as an empty set and the other 1,000 are assigned to teams.  Each team receives a set number of winning combinations based on their record, the detailed odds chart for this year’s lottery is below (courtesy of the Cleveland Plain Dealer):


  Team W L Win
No. 1 pick chance Lottery chances Somewhere
in top 3
1 Charlotte 7 59 0.106 25.0% 250 64%
2 Washington 20 46 0.303 19.9% 199 56%
3 Cleveland 21 45 0.318 13.8% 138 42%
4 New Orleans 21 45 0.318 13.8% 137 42%
5 Sacramento 22 44 0.333 7.6% 76 25%
6 x-New Jersey 22 44 0.333 7.6% 75 25%
7 y-Golden State 23 43 0.348 3.6% 36 13%
8 Toronto 23 43 0.348 3.6% 35 12%
9 Detroit 25 41 0.379 1.7% 17 6%
10 z-New Orleans 26 40 0.394 1.1% 11 4%
11 Portland 28 38 0.424 0.8% 8 3%
12 Milwaukee 31 35 0.470 0.7% 7 3%
13 Phoenix 33 33 0.500 0.6% 6 2%
14 Houston 34 32 0.515 0.5% 5 2%




x-New Jersey pick transferred to Portland if not in top 3.

y-GS pick transferred to Utah if not in top 7.

z-New Orleans receives this pick from Minnesota via the Clippers.


Here is the process, step by step:

  1. 14 lottery balls, numbered 1-14, are placed in a standard lottery machine.
  2. The balls are allowed to circulate for 20 seconds before the first ball is drawn, the next three balls are drawn at 10 second intervals.
  3. Lottery officials check to see who owns the resulting combination, if it is not the empty set the owner of that combination receives the #1 overall pick.
  4. The process is repeated twice more for the #2 and #3 picks.  If a team which has already won a pick gets one of its combinations drawn (or the empty set), the process is repeated until three distinct winners are found.  The exception to this is for the Hornets, who can win two of the top 3 picks IF one of their combinations from their pick AND one from the pick they got from Minnesota come up.
  5. The remainder of the lottery teams are ordered in the reverse of their record, with the worst team that didn’t win a pick getting the fourth selection, the second worst fifth and so on.


So grab your lucky token, whatever it is, and hope that the Blazers can beat the odds to get a top 3 pick while NJ stays out of the top 3.


skywaker9 (David) is a Portland native and passionate Blazers fan. He currently works as a University fiscal analyst for the Higher Education Coordinating Commission. He also has a PhD in Public Affairs and Policy at Portland State University. David is a former political activist who chose to focus on sports because they made him happy. He primarily writes previews for PWE and one of his primary goals is to inform Blazer fans everywhere about those players on other teams they may not have heard of but should (such as Nikola Vucevic).