This year’s NBA Draft Lottery a.k.a. “Who gets Anthony Davis?” will go down on Wednesday, May 30th, and will be televised at 8PM ET on ESPN. There will be many a crossed fingers and toes tomorrow night, as the practice of advanced mathematics (not really) and ping pong balls will hold the fate of some bad teams looking to better themselves. With that in mind, here are some tidbits about the NBA Draft Lottery, starting with 1990 when the current weighted lottery system was implemented.
1. From 1990 to 1994, there were 11 lottery teams. From 1995-2003, there were 13 with the addition of the Vancouver Grizzlies and Toronto Raptors. From 2004 to the present, there are 14 lottery teams with the addition of the Charlotte Bobcats.
2. All 30 NBA teams have been involved in the draft lottery, with the Los Angeles Clippers participating the most times (17 out of 22) and the San Antonio Spurs the least (once). The one time they were in it, the Spurs won the first overall pick and selected Tim Duncan. They had the third-best chance to win.
3. The Orlando Magic have won the draft lottery three times out of the dozen times they’ve been in it. They won it in 1992 (Shaquille O’Neal), 1993 (Chris Webber) and 2004 (Dwight Howard).
4. Five teams have won it twice: Chicago Bulls in 1999 (Elton Brand) and 2008 (Derrick Rose); Cleveland Cavaliers in 2003 (LeBron James) and 2011 (Kyrie Irving); Milwaukee Bucks in 1994 (Glenn Robinson) and 2005 (Andrew Bogut); New Jersey Nets in 1990 (Derrick Coleman) and 2000 (Kenyon Martin); Washington Wizards in 2001 (Kwame Brown) and 2010 (John Wall).
5. The Vancouver/Memphis Grizzlies have played runner-up the most times: four, including three years in a row. The Grizz received the second pick in 1998 (Mike Bibby), 1999 (Steve Francis), 2000 (Stromile Swift) and 2009 (Hasheem Thabeet).
6. The Denver Nuggets finished third the most in draft lottery history, an aesthetically pleasing three times — 1990 (Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf), 1998 (Raef LaFrentz) and 2003 (Carmelo Anthony).
7: Four teams are tied for the most top three picks with five: Chicago Bulls (1999, 2002, 2004, 2006, 2008), Los Angeles Clippers (1995, 1998, 2000, 2001, 2009), Philadelphia 76ers (1993, 1995, 1996, 1997, 2010) and Vancouver/Memphis Grizzlies (1996, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2009).
8. The team with the worst record — and therefore best chance to win the lottery — has only won it three times: New Jersey Nets (1990 — Coleman), Cleveland Cavaliers (2003 — James) and Orlando Magic (2004 — Howard).
9. The team with the second-best odds has won three times regardless of the way it was awarded: Orlando Magic (1992 — O’Neal), Philadelphia 76ers (1996 — Allen Iverson; awarded to them because of expansion rules as the top pick was originally won by the Vancouver Grizzlies) and Cleveland Cavaliers (2011 — Kyrie Irving; won with the Los Angeles Clippers’ pick they acquired through trade).
(Note: In 2009, the Los Angeles Clippers tied for the second-worst record in the NBA with the Washington Wizards, but had the third-best chance to win the lottery, with the Wizards receiving one additional lottery ball (178-177). Obviously, the Clippers won the right to draft Blake Griffin, but a Wall-to-Griffin combo happening came close. Also, in 1994, the Minnesota Timberwolves, Detroit Pistons and Milwaukee Bucks all tied for the second-worst record in the NBA with the Pistons and T-Wolves receiving 164 balls and the Bucks 163, technically the third-best chance. The Bucks won and drafted the Big Dog.)
10. The team with the third-worst record won the draft lottery four times: San Antonio Spurs (1997 — Duncan), Chicago Bulls (1999 — Brand), Washington Wizards (2001 — Brown) and the Los Angeles Clippers (1998 – Michael Olowokandi and the abovementioned 2009 situation where the team had the third-best chance to win).
11. The team with the smallest odds that actually won the draft lottery was the 1993 Orlando Magic, who had the 11th-best chance out of 11 teams to win. The next best team that beat the odds were the 2008 Chicago Bulls who had the ninth-best chance out of 14 teams.
History has shown us that the odds aren’t necessarily in favor of the Charlotte Bobcats, but the Washington Wizards and Cleveland Cavaliers might have something to be happy about. However, a number one pick doesn’t guarantee a superstar because we still have Olowokandi, Brown, Joe Smith and Greg Oden to remind us of that. Good luck to all teams involved! All it takes is a horrible record and a dream!