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The 2018 NBA Draft Lottery, explained

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The NBA Draft Lottery is Tuesday night and we have all the info you need from the format to the odds for each team winning the No. 1 overall pick.

The 2018 NBA Draft lottery is Tuesday night ahead of the second game of the Eastern Conference Finals. At the lottery, the league’s worst 14 teams will find out which pick they’ll receive in this year’s draft.

Teams are eyeing 19-year-old Slovenian Luka Doncic, who is the overwhelming favorite to go No. 1 overall, as well as Arizona’s Deandre Ayton, Texas’ Mo Bamba, Missouri’s Michael Porter Jr., Duke’s Marvin Bagley III, Oklahoma’s Trae Young, and a list of other potential all-stars. This year’s draft isn’t the deepest, but there are stars at the top, so landing a high pick is as important as ever.

The 14 teams participating in the draft lottery had the worst records in the league and missed the postseason. The NHL and NBA are the only two major sports that award the worst team in the league the best chances at the top pick in the draft. The odds get worse depending on how many games teams won.

So how does the lottery work?

Fourteen ping-pong balls are labeled 1-14 and placed in a machine to be selected at random. Four balls are selected to create a four-digit number. Each team is assigned a different percentage of those four-digit numbers depending on how terrible their record was last season. The Suns won last season’s tank-off and will have the best odds.

Balls are only drawn for the top three picks in the draft. The other 11 are ordered again by last season’s standings.

This format will change next year

In September, the NBA approved a change for the 2019 season that’ll award the worst three teams by record equal chance at the top pick in the draft. They will each have 14 percent odds rather than 25, 19.9, and 15.6 percent odds, respectively, in an effort to curb tanking.

Each pick after the top three will drop incrementally in percentage, too. The lottery will also select the top four picks, meaning the team with the best odds could fall as low as the No. 5 pick, rather than the current system which wouldn’t let them fall below No. 4.

The 2018 draft lottery odds

Here are the odds for each team receiving each pick, per Tankathon.

Can any teams lose their picks via trade?

Yes!

  • The Pistons will only keep their pick if it lands in the top three, otherwise it goes to the Clippers from the Blake Griffin trade.
  • The Cavaliers will get the Nets’ pick no matter what from their trade with the Celtics for Kyrie Irving
  • The Lakers will lose their pick no matter what, but where they land will depend on who it goes to. If they get the Nos. 1, 10, 11, 12, or 13 picks, it’ll go to the Sixers via the trade to get Markelle Fultz. If it lands Nos. 2 or 3, it belongs to the Celtics.

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