NBA Draft Lottery 2015: Everything Knicks fans need to know

The 2015 NBA Draft Order will be determined tonight in the Draft Lottery at 8:30 PM on ESPN.

Here is what you need to know:

What is it?

  • Unlike the MLB and NFL, the NBA uses a lottery system. The worst teams have the best odds at high picks, but are not guaranteed any specific slot. The Draft Lottery, held in New York City, uses a ping-pong ball machine to randomly select the order, with the worst teams having the most ping-pong balls in the drawing.
  • 14 balls are placed in the machine, numbered 1-14. Four are selected. There are 1,000 possible combinations (the order in which they are drawn does not matter). Each team is assigned a specific number of combinations. If a team wins a pick, its combinations are removed from the lottery for the remaining drawings (so if the Knicks get the first pick, they cannot also get the second pick, unless they had two draft picks).
  • There are 14 teams in the lottery— the teams that missed the playoffs (or traded for the picks belonging to those teams).
  • The lottery determines the top three picks in the draft. After the top three are determined, the remaining teams pick in reverse order of the standings.
  • Because of this, teams only have a certain amount of spots at which they might end up. A team cannot fall farther than 3 spots below its ranking in the standings. The 6th-worst team could fall to 9th if the 7th, 8th, and 9th worst teams all end up in the top three, but could not fall lower. The 6th worst team could also end up at 1, 2, or 3, if they are one of the teams selected in the lottery.
  • The Knicks were the 2nd worst team in the league this season, so they will pick in the top five.
  • The Knicks have 199 combinations in the lottery. This gives them a 19.9 % chance at the first pick, an 18.8% chance at the second pick (38.7% top 2), and a 17.1% chance at the third pick (55.8% top 3). If a Knicks combination is not drawn in either of the three drawings, the Knicks would pick fourth if two teams behind them leapfrogged them (31.9% chance) and 5th if all three teams drawn had better record than the Knicks (12.3%) chance. The Knicks cannot pick lower than 5th.
  • The Knicks have won the lottery once, when they won the first-ever lottery (unweighted) in 1985 and drafted Patrick Ewing.
  • Steve Mills will represent the Knicks on the lottery stage.
  • Since the weighted lottery system was introduced in 1990, the worst team has won three times. The second-worst team has won four times.
  • The worst team hasn’t won since 2004, when the Magic won and selected Dwight Howard.
  • History is irrelevant. If you flip a 50-50 coin twenty times and get tails every time, you still have a 50% chance of getting heads the next time. The Knicks have a 19.9% chance at winning the lottery, assuming there is no foul play.
  • Members of the media and representatives from each team are invited to the room where the lottery drawing takes place to ensure that there is no (blatant) foul play.
  • Adam Silver is a Knicks fan. Let’s root for some foul play.
  • The teams in the lottery, in order of their odds to win, are the Timberwolves, Knicks, Sixers, Lakers, Magic, Kings, Nuggets, Pistons, Hornets, Heat, Pacers, Jazz, Suns, and Thunder.

Let’s hope for some luck! -Tommy Rothman


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