The 2018 NBA Draft Lottery is being held Tuesday night at the Palmer House Hilton in Chicago. The drawing of ping pong balls will determine the first three picks in the order, so it’s a high-stakes event for franchises hoping to land potential cornerstone talents.
The lottery is designed to give every non-playoff team an opportunity at the No. 1 overall pick. Teams with worse records receive higher odds of winning, so the Suns, coming off a 21-61 season, lead the pack with a 25 percent chance of picking first. The Bulls’ odds come in at 5.3 percent. They’ve won the top pick twice in the past 20 years.
This lottery will be the last before the NBA implements changes to the system in 2019 designed to address the issue of tanking. Under the new system announced last year, the three worst teams in the league will receive identical 14 percent odds of winning the top pick. The drawing will also determine the first four picks, instead of the first three, so the worst team in the league will be at risk of falling to the fifth pick.
All of that makes the 2018 NBA Draft Lottery a big one for everyone involved. Here’s everything you need to know.
When is it, and where can I watch it?
The lottery results will be revealed on ESPN starting at 7:30 p.m. ET, prior to the start of Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Finals between the Cavaliers and Celtics. The coverage will also be live streamed on WatchESPN for those who aren’t near a television.
How does the lottery work?
Similar to the NHL, the NBA uses a system where 1,000 four-digit sequences are distributed among the lottery teams based on their odds. Fourteen ping pong balls numbered 1-14 are then placed into a glass chamber, and four of them are removed to create a four-digit sequence. Whichever team has that four-digit sequence assigned to it wins. This process is repeated to determine each of the the first three picks.
What are the odds for each team?
|Team (Record)||No. 1 pick odds||Top-3 pick odds|
|Suns (21-61)||25 percent||64.2 percent|
|Grizzlies (22-60)||19.9 percent||55.8 percent|
|Mavericks (24-58)||13.8 percent||42.6 percent|
|Hawks (24-58)||13.7 percent||42.6 percent|
|Magic (25-57)||8.8 percent||29.1 percent|
|Bulls (27-55)||5.3 percent||18.3 percent|
|Kings (27-55)||5.3 percent||18.3 percent|
|Cavaliers (via Nets) (28-54)||2.8 percent||9.9 percent|
|Knicks (29-53)||1.7 percent||6.1 percent|
|76ers or Celtics (via Lakers) (35-47)||1.1 percent||4.0 percent|
|Hornets (36-46)||0.8 percent||2.9 percent|
|Pistons or Clippers (39-43)||0.7 percent||2.5 percent|
|Clippers (42-40)||0.6 percent||2.2 percent|
|Nuggets (46-36)||0.5 percent||1.8 percent|
How will trades affect the lottery results?
Several teams will be watching the lottery extra closely given the impact of trade protections on certain picks.
The Pistons’ pick will go to the Clippers if it falls outside the top four, which is highly likely to happen, as a result of the Blake Griffin trade. There’s just a 2.5 percent chance that the pick vaults into the top three, so Los Angeles will probably receive that pick this year.
The Lakers’ pick will go to the Celtics if it falls between No. 2 and No. 5, but it’ll go to the 76ers if it’s No. 1 or anywhere below No. 5. Most likely, that means it’ll go the Sixers because there’s just a four percent chance that it falls in the top three.
The Cavaliers also own the Nets’ pick as a result of the Kyrie Irving trade. There are no trade protections on that pick, so they’ll receive it no matter where it comes in.
Who are the top prospects?
Teams hoping to move into the top three picks will likely be focused on European point guard Luka Doncic, Arizona center DeAndre Ayton and Michigan State center Jaren Jackson Jr. Other top prospects expected to go in the lottery include Duke’s Marvin Bagley III, Texas’ Mohamed Bamba, Oklahoma’s Trae Young and Missouri’s Michael Porter Jr.
Ayton will likely be the No. 1 pick based on current discussions. A recent ESPN article projected that 13 of 14 teams would take Ayton if they won the lottery. The only team projected to take Doncic is the Grizzlies, who need immediate help and already have a expensive veteran center in Marc Gasol.
Read more from Joe Cowley on prospects who could make or break the Bulls’ rebuild.