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2014 NBA lottery is 100 percent fixed. Probably. Sort of.

May 20, 2014, 9:15 AM EDT

Adam Silver Adam Silver

Adam Silver’s NBA is no better than David Stern’s. The lottery is still fixed.

If you want to see the lottery odds the league is pitching, take a look. But I have the real odds – and proof of the conspiracy.

Two years ago – before the lottery – I wrote:

The NBA no longer owns the Hornets, but is still committed to keeping them in New Orleans. With their arena improvements needing approval of the state legislature in July, the Hornets could ride the Anthony Davis buzz and ensure there are no hitches. The league spent a year-and-a-half trying to sell the team without finding a buyer, so maybe Tom Benson needed a No. 1 pick thrown in the deal. David Stern has also meddled in the Hornets’ business before, in the Chris Paul trade. Davis would help Eric Gordon, and therefore Stern’s reputation, because Stern was the one who handpicked Gordon for the Hornets rather than taking the Lakers’ offer.

Of course, the Hornets got the No. 1 pick. It was so obvious.

And then last year, again before the lottery:

Stern desperately wants to create a Cavaliers-Heat rivalry to boost rankings, and to do so, he must make the Cavaliers better. Dan Gilbert remained loyal during the lockout, and especially after LeBron became the worst example of players seizing control from teams, Stern will reward Gilbert with a second No. 1 pick.

Yup, Cleveland got the No. 1 pick. Saw that coming.

Isn’t it always convenient how the most-obvious team wins the lottery? That happening proves it’s fixed. If it were truly random, a team other than the one you know the league wants to win would at least sometimes get the No. 1 pick. But that literally never happens.

RELATED: Complete 2014 NBA draft lottery preview

Here are the true lottery odds:

Milwaukee Bucks

Odds of winning the lottery: 25 percent 100 percent

Wesley Edens and Marc Lasry just bought the Bucks, and they were determined to complete the sale before the lottery. Suspicious timing. Obviously, the NBA offered the No. 1 pick to grease the wheels. There’s no other explanation why a team Forbes valued at $405 million sold for $550 million. Milwaukee is worth that – only with a No. 1 pick thrown in.

Philadelphia 76ers

Odds of winning the lottery: 19.9 percent 100 percent

Last year, 76ers president Rod Thorn became the NBA’s president of basketball operations. He’ll reward his former employers with the No. 1 pick. Even if Thorn wanted to take the high road, the 76ers really forced the league’s hand here. By tanking, their attendance fell 2,848 fans per game from last season – by far the biggest drop in the NBA. The league can’t afford to have such dismal numbers in such a large market, so it will expedite Philadelphia’s rebuild.

Orlando Magic 

Odds of winning the lottery: 15.6 percent 100 percent

Cleveland lost LeBron James and then got the No. 1 pick. New Orleans lost Chris Paul and then got the No. 1 pick. Orlando lost Dwight Howard and then… Cleveland got the No. 1 pick. OK, I guess LeBron was worth two compensatory No. 1s. But now that the Magic deferred a year, they’ll get the top pick. The NBA doesn’t let teams suffer too much after losing a superstar, and Orlando has paid its dues.

Utah Jazz

Odds of winning the lottery: 10.4 percent 100 percent

Though Andrew Wiggins is still the likely No. 1 pick, don’t rule out Jabari Parker. He’s more polished, and that could give him the edge in many statistical models teams use. So, the NBA will give the Jazz the top pick to ensure they get Parker. A Mormon star in Utah would have HUGE marketing potential. Parker could be bigger than Malone.

Boston Celtics

Odds of winning the lottery: 10.3 percent 100 percent

The Celtics are a flagship franchise, and they play in the Northeast, an area the NBA is biased toward. The last time Boston floundered, Kevin Garnett was conveniently sent there by former Celtic Kevin McHale. The Celtics have moles all over the the league. They’re leaning on their connections – established over years of excellent and money-making play – to get a No. 1 pick. The Boston market is too valuable to the NBA to allow another season like the last.

Los Angeles Lakers

Odds of winning the lottery: 6.3 percent 100 percent

Los Angeles is the biggest market in the lottery, and the NBA wants to keep putting the Lakers on national television. The league can’t do that as long as they remain this bad. The No. 1 pick would turn the Lakers back into marketing giants and bring streams and streams of revenue to the NBA. Did I mention money? Money, so much money. This No. 1 pick, in Los Angeles, could swing billions.

Sacramento Kings

Odds of winning the lottery: 4.3 percent 100 percent

The Sacramento City Council will meet at 6 p.m. locally vote on whether to fund the Kings’ new arena – essentially immediately after the lottery results are televised (show begins at 5 p.m. in California). The implication is clear: Give us the No. 1 pick, or we vote no. Now that the Sacramento City Councilors have made their demands, will the NBA acquiesce? Yes, yes it will.

Detroit Pistons

Odds of winning the lottery: 2.8 percent 100 percent

Andre Drummond has developed a cult following of fans, and the NBA sees potential. With Stan Van Gundy helping him to refine his game, all Drummond needs is another star. Then, the Pistons are set, and the league can market Drummond – who’s young, charismatic and exciting – both locally and nationally. The Pistons’ attendance is highly volatile, swinging based on the team’s quality. Across the country, people will be drawn to Drummond – as long as he plays for a winner.

Cleveland Cavaliers

Odds of winning the lottery: 1.7 percent 100 percent

I don’t know what Dan Gilbert is blackmailing the NBA with, but it sure works. Two No. 1 picks in three years is unprecedented in the current weight setup. Gilbert tried showing restraint on his golden goose, exercising his ability to get a top pick only every other year. But now, the Cavaliers owner is getting desperate. He traded for Luol Deng and Spencer Hawes and still couldn’t make the playoffs, and Anthony Bennett sure deserves a mulligan. Gilbert will cash in again.

Denver Nuggets

Odds of winning the lottery: 1.5 percent 100 percent

Nuggets owner Stan Kroenke also owns the St. Louis Rams, who just drafted Michael Sam, the NFL’s first openly gay player. In the wake of the Donald Sterling scandal, the NBA wants to draw attention to its most tolerant owners – even if their most-notable acts came in another sport. Denver getting the No. 1 pick will put the spotlight on Kroenke and his open-mindedness at a time the league really needs people like him at the forefront.

New Orleans Pelicans

Odds of winning the lottery: 1.1 percent 100 percent

The team formerly owned by the NBA will definitely get the No. 1 pick. The league took over the franchise just to keep it in New Orleans, a point of pride after Hurricane Katrina. But the Pelicans still rank in the bottom third of the league in attendance. Anthony Davis has certainly helped. One more No. 1 pick will really get New Orleans over the hump.

Minnesota Timberwolves

Odds of winning the lottery: 0.6 percent 100 percent

The NBA owners held a lockout with a goal of breaking up the Miami’s Big Three. Not only do the other owners not want super teams to be sustainable, they want to prevent them from forming by keeping their own stars – and they geared the rules toward that. They’ll gear the lottery toward that too, giving Minnesota the No. 1 pick and a much better chance of keeping Kevin Love.

Phoenix Suns

Odds of winning the lottery: 0.5 percent 100 percent

The Suns were the only lottery team competing hard until the end of the season, and Silver will reward that. The new commissioner has shown a willingness to overhaul the draft system, moving toward a setup that no longer encourages failure. He’s on record as interested in a play-in model for the final playoff spots, too – something that really would have helped Phoenix this season. But those type of big-picture fixes take time to implement. For now, Silver can just give the Suns the No. 1 pick as an end-around to achieving the outcome he believes should occur. It’s like a team getting the ball when touching it last going out of bounds following an uncalled foul on the opponent – and we know that’s approved in Silver’s NBA.

Commit these to memory now, or if you forget, check back after the lottery to see why it was rigged. After tonight, you only need to remember one of these outcomes – but then remember it forever and let all the sheeple know the truth.

123 Comments (Feed for Comments)
  1. ncrdbl1 - May 20, 2014 at 1:49 PM

    Would be interested in knowing if this article actually originated from the NBA public relations office or not. So he puts his tongue firmly in his cheek and write this article making it look as if any claim of fixed lottery is nothing more than fan paranoia. Truth is too many curious things do happen with the lottery, and it should be looked in to. So it was just the luck of the draw that the year Lebron James was projected as the number one pick that Cleveland wins the lottery. Or a few years later when Derrick Rose was projected as the top pick that the Bulls win the lottery. Stuff such as this had happened to often. Am beginning to wonder if the NBA is doing preempted PR strikes in preparation of the Sterling civil suit. Could they be afraid of what may come out of this case?

    Why has the NBA firmly refused to show the actual lottery drawing to the public and continue to do it behind closed doors?

    • ss3walkman - May 20, 2014 at 8:28 PM

      Screw your article

  2. sportsfan18 - May 20, 2014 at 1:53 PM


    Well done Mr. Feldman, well done.

    One of the best sports articles I’ve read in a while…

  3. hunnymoney - May 20, 2014 at 2:09 PM

    wrote this after the 2013 draft lottery…

    Since 1990, when the NBA draft lottery went to the weighted average ball system that theoretically gave the team with the worst record the best chance, there have been some strange and certainly questionable results. In the period from 1990 to the most recently completed lottery, there have been 23 draft lotteries determined. In that time, the team with the worst record (top seed for the lottery) has won the draft lottery 3 times (1990, 2003, 2004). The reason this seems suspicious is that during that same time period a team with the 8th seed or lower has won the draft lottery three times as well (1993, 2008, 2011). The three teams in those three years? Orlando in 1993 with 1 chance in 66 (1.5%), Chicago in 2008 with 17 chances out of 1000 (1.7%) and the LA Clippers in 2011 with 28 chances out of 1000 (2.8%). What makes these results interesting is that in 2008 there was much conjecture about the Bulls floundering franchise, and they suddenly defy the odds mightily to win the draft for hometown sensation Derrick Rose who immediately begins to turn the fortunes of the Bulls. Then in 2011, the Clippers pick actually belonged to the Cavaliers as a result of an earlier trade, and thus the Cavaliers win the lottery the same year Lebron leaves for the Heat. Very convenient. In fact, if you combine the chances of the three eighth place or lower winners, there was a 2.2% chance of those three lotteries falling the way they did, while the top seeded teams in those same lotteries had a 24.7% chance of things falling their way. That is a ten-fold difference in probability, yet the lower seeded team defied the odds all three times. Another interesting point to the lottery results over the last 23 years is that the 5th seed or lower has won the lottery 11 times in 23 draft lotteries. That is almost half of the contested lotteries. The top three seeds in the lottery have only won it 12 times (interestingly enough, no fourth seed has won it since the weighted ball system went into effect). So the top three teams in the lottery over the last 23 years (who had much better mathematical chances to win than the seeds below them) have only won the lottery ONE more time than teams that were 5th seeded or lower going in, and there have been as many winners from the 8th seed or lower as there have from the top seed in the same time period. I’m no mathematician, and I don’t play one on television, but those results seem awfully fishy to me. Based on the odds of the 8th seed or lower teams that won, there should have been no more than one winner from seeds that low or lower in 23 tries (23 x 2.2% works out to 0.5, or not even one win). Yet there have been 3 wins from such seeds, and the 5th seed or lower has won only one less time than the top three seeds. Those numbers seem to defy the odds of random chance that the draft lottery ostensibly uses to determine the winner. The NBA draft lottery has come under scrutiny for its past results, and frankly such scrutiny is warranted based on these numbers. I think it would be very interesting for a qualified mathematician to take all the data for all of the contested lotteries from 1990 through the most recent one and work up an algorithm to determine what the overall odds were that all of the lotteries would fall exactly the way they did. I mean one set of odds to cover the results of all 23 years. I’m willing to bet the number would be astronomical. I’ve said before that the draft lottery is rigged, and after reviewing these numbers I see nothing to dissuade me from that belief. The NBA claims it isn’t rigged, yet no one can see the actual process real-time when the winner is determined. If the lottery is on the up and up, why all the secrecy? Let everyone see the results as they happen, and this way there’s no chance the thing is rigged. The lottery is a joke and they need to go back to the way every other sports league in America does things and give the worst team the first pick. Considering that the NBA already has credibility problems with their officiating and their seeming preferential treatment of superstars, this draft lottery system and the amazing odds-defying performances that it keeps yielding do nothing to bolster that credibility at all.

  4. bigdaddy44 - May 20, 2014 at 2:38 PM

    Your article is funny, but doesn’t address the point head on. Money. Whatever you are investigating, the cardinal rule is FOLLOW the MONEY. Did the league desperately need a major team in NY to boost revenues years ago? Yes, hence the ‘cold’ envelope conspiracy theory that produced jubilation in NY and the league offices by Patrick Ewing ending up with the Knicks. Did it happen? You who were around decide for yourself. I correctly picked the winner before that lottery. Small market teams are fairly insignificant by themselves when it comes to boosting league revenues. The money is in the large markets and espescially in the marketing of individual superstars. Let’s face it, the superstars have always gotten the benefit of the doubt on calls, because they are stars. The difference since Stern took over is that the trend is to intentionally favor the individual marketable superstar, and to keep that team involved in the playoffs to keep up exposure, interest and dollars. It is just good business, period. On the other side, the Clippers needed to be out of the spotlight very quickly because their controversy hurts the league. If you saw the games, you decide for yourself if calls helped OKC (small market, but has KD, the newest great marketing revenue generator) or if they hurt the Clippers, whose controversies are hurting the league. Doc thought the calls were slanted. Kobe and Lebron are now being joined by KD on the marketing side. So with all that being said, do I think the lottery is rigged for the Lakers? No, too high profile an event to create some type of ‘cold’ ping pong ball. But Silver will continue the ways of Stern, using other nefarious means of influence to slant the table in the favor of league revenues. Follow the money, it’s just good business!

  5. kamauthabiti - May 20, 2014 at 3:04 PM

    sounds like guesswork. you don’t know any more than the average person who just watches the sport on TV.

  6. motobus - May 20, 2014 at 3:13 PM

    Even the team most likely to win has a 75% chance of not getting the top pick.

  7. antistratfordian - May 20, 2014 at 3:17 PM

    This effort will ultimately prove completely futile if the Lakers end up with the top pick.

  8. marc0626 - May 20, 2014 at 3:31 PM

    Lakers or boston are obviously getting 1st. They have to because it is fixed

  9. eugenesaxe1 - May 20, 2014 at 4:01 PM

    MIL does theoretically have the best shot AND a good reason to win a fixed lottery. They’ll get 1 or 2.

  10. dirtyjerseysports - May 20, 2014 at 5:19 PM

    The NBA is not fixed! Remember Tim Donaghy went to jail for parking tickets. The Easter Bunny told me so.

  11. pike573 - May 20, 2014 at 7:14 PM

  12. antistratfordian - May 20, 2014 at 8:31 PM

    Well THAT didn’t help. Wow. And the rigged conspiracy lives on.

  13. Mr. Wright 212 - May 20, 2014 at 8:43 PM

    100% rigged, just as every Finals series (and the series leading up to them) that Miami has won, as well.

  14. mcmystery76 - May 20, 2014 at 9:23 PM

    So you’ve written this exact same article the last three years and seem to be proud of this fact? PBT is a legend in the field of really, really, really terrible sports journalism; bravo.

  15. canadatude - May 21, 2014 at 7:05 AM

    This article fails to mention teams that won first lottery picks, but we’re not allowed to keep them. Expansion teams from 1995 (Toronto and Vancouver), were not allowed to keep the top pick if they won it. Happened to The Raptors, so they got Camby instead of Iverson. THAT was rigged!

  16. katra2logic - May 21, 2014 at 6:00 PM

    The only reason the 30 NBA team owners accept the draft lottery as is, is because they know it is NOT fixed.

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