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2014 NBA lottery odds visualized

May 20, 2014, 8:45 AM EDT

The NBA lottery is tonight, and 14 teams have a stake.

The following trades are reflected in the visuals:

  • The Charlotte Hornets receive a top-eight-protected pick from the Detroit Pistons.
  • The Philadelphia 76ers receive a top-five-protected pick from the New Orleans Pelicans.
  • The Denver Nuggets receive a first-round pick from the New York Knicks.
  • The Phoenix Suns receive a top-13-protected pick from the Minnesota Timberwolves.

Another trade involving multiple picks – the Orlando Magic receiving the lesser of the Denver Nuggets’ two first-round picks – is not.

Here are the odds of each team getting each pick:















  1. tccoats - May 20, 2014 at 9:11 AM

    The Bucks have a better chance of getting the FOURTH pick than the First pick!…what’s wrong with this picture???….also a better chance than the 2nd and 3rd picks as well….

    • spursareold - May 20, 2014 at 10:35 AM

      The have the best chance at 4 because they can fall no further than that. If you compute their percentage odds for 1, 2, and 3, add them together, subtract from 100%, you have their chance for #4.

  2. unxpexted1 - May 20, 2014 at 9:18 AM

    I wish they would do the 1001 combinations before the draft, then pick the numbers on live coverage. Just for entertainment purposes. Their is nothing more entertaining……and suspect, then just watching the commish unveil an envelop. I don’t think it’s rigged but it could at least be transparent.

  3. bougin89 - May 20, 2014 at 9:36 AM

    Dear 7lb, 6oz double chinned, smiling baby jesus…please give the Bucks the #1 pick.

    • 00maltliquor - May 20, 2014 at 2:39 PM

      I like to picture Jesus in a tuxedo t-shirt, because it says like, I wanna be formal, but I’m here to party too. I like to party, so I like my Jesus to party.

      • bougin89 - May 20, 2014 at 2:49 PM

        Haha. Nailed it.

  4. homelanddefense - May 20, 2014 at 9:36 AM

    the whole draft lottery process is stupid. I understand that they want to stop teams from tanking…..but its still happens in obvious fashion.

  5. unxpexted1 - May 20, 2014 at 9:51 AM

    If the Lakers can somehow get in that top three……..

    • mazblast - May 20, 2014 at 10:45 AM

      If the Lakers get the #1 pick, it will be the final confirmation that the Commissioner’s name may be different, but the way things are run hasn’t changed.

      • asimonetti88 - May 20, 2014 at 10:57 AM

        You missed it by one article! Just remember, the NBA lottery is 100% fixed!

  6. quizguy66 - May 20, 2014 at 11:38 AM

    @unxpexted1 – I’m interested in the combo sheet as well. Depending on how the combo sheet is set up, the odds for each team can change if the ping pong balls have been given different weights (and thus a different change of coming up out of the hopper).

    Let’s say that balls 1 and 9 are weighted so that those two balls happen to be 4 times more likely to come up out of the machine than the other 12 balls.

    There are 66 combinations out of 1001 that have both the 1 and the 9.

    Let’s say the NBA gives 63 of those 66 combos to the Lakers and for good measure the 1001th (omitted) combo is one that includes 1 and 9. In other words, if both balls 1 and 9 get selected, in 63 out of the 65 valid cases the Lakers win.

    I crunched the numbers and given the parameters above and suddenly the change the Lakers get the #1 pick goes up from 6.3% to 36.33%

    Do I think the NBA actually has weighed the balls differently? No. But I once saw a sample sheet of some of the number combinations assigned to the teams on line and it looked like it was at least technically possible.

    The NBA could remove such a bias by making sure that the 14 balls are spread out as evenly as possible in the combos for each team.

    Anyway, thought the math nerds might like that one.

    • nbamathnerd - May 20, 2014 at 1:06 PM

      I like.

  7. quizguy66 - May 20, 2014 at 2:04 PM

    So I saw elsewhere that the Celtics actually released the list of their combos – some that has never been officially done before. And it’s true – the NBA doesn’t allocated the combinations evenly. Following is how the balls are allocated across the 103 Celtics combos. 103 combos time 4 balls per combo = 412. 412/14 = 29.42 – if evenly spread each of the balls should appear 29 or 30 times in the Celtics combinations. That does not happen:

    Ball number followed by number of Celtics combos it is in:
    1: 0
    2: 0
    3: 0
    4: 82
    5: 21
    6: 47
    7: 33
    8: 34
    9: 34
    10: 34
    11: 32
    12: 32
    13: 32
    14: 31

    So let’s say the NBA has it in for the Celtics and doesn’t want them to win. All they have to do is to make it more likely that balls 1, 2 or 3 are drawn. If any of those come up, the Celtics already don’t have any of those combinations. They lose. For example let’s say that balls 1, 2, and 3 are all 4 time as likely to be drawn as the other 11 balls. There’s only a 3.4% chance none of those numbers come up with these weights -that is there’s a 96.6% of a combo that automatically shuts out the Celtics – and since they only have 103 of the remaining 330 combos, their odds of winning drop to under 1.1%. When it’s supposed to be 10.3%

    Do I really think the NBA is weighting the balls to impact the lottery and help certain teams? No. But there is at least a chance it could happen due to poor methodology that does not eliminate this potential bias.

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