NBA draft lottery: How to watch, start time and winning team odds
It's that time of year again — when NBA team executives and fans place their hopes and dreams of franchise success into 14 air-scrambled ping-pong balls.
Sure, the NBA draft lottery is far from the biggest spectacle in sport, but this year's draft lottery carries a higher-than-normal level of magnitude. French basketball star Victor Wembanyama, considered by some to be the best prospect since LeBron James in 2003, is the biggest prize of this year's draft. The potential franchise-transforming talent is guaranteed to go to the team that wins the NBA draft lottery.
Here's everything you need to know about the 2023 NBA draft lottery.
When is the 2023 NBA draft lottery?
ESPN will broadcast the 2023 NBA draft lottery at 8 p.m. EDT on Tuesday. This year's lottery draft will be held at the McCormick Place Convention Center in Chicago and will feature NBA deputy commissioner Mark Tatum revealing when each team will pick in ascending order. Representatives from the 14 teams in the lottery draft — teams that didn't make the first round of the playoffs — will attend, with the winner being revealed toward the end of the broadcast.
Picks for the remainder of the first round of the NBA draft (Nos. 15-30) are already determined by regular-season record. The 2023 NBA draft will take place June 22 at Barclays Center in Brooklyn.
Who has the best odds of winning the NBA draft lottery?
The Detroit Pistons, Houston Rockets and San Antonio Spurs have the best odds of winning the NBA draft lottery. The three teams each have a 14% chance of selecting first.
The Pistons finished with the league's worst regular-season record at 17-65, but they have the same odds as the Rockets and the Spurs, who went 22-60 (Houston won the tiebreaker drawing conducted by the NBA last month). Under anti-tanking changes implemented by the NBA in 2019, the three teams with the worst regular-season records each have a 14% chance of winning. The Pistons are guaranteed at least the No. 5 overall pick. The Rockets are guaranteed at least the No. 6 pick and the Spurs can fall no lower than No. 7.
Before 2019, the worst team had a 25% chance of selecting first.
Here's a rundown of each team's chances of winning the draft lottery:
Will Victor Wembanyama attend the NBA draft lottery?
The man atop every NBA general manager's wish list will not attend the draft lottery. He will be playing in France on Tuesday a few hours before the draft lottery starts.
What's up with those ping-pong balls?
The ping-pong magic happens before the broadcast. Each team is assigned various four-number combinations that will determine its pick. Then, 14 ping-pong balls — each numbered one through 14 — are placed into a ball-jumbling lottery machine.
Representatives from the NBA, the teams involved, the media and the accounting firm Ernst & Young will be in attendance during the lottery. The balls are mixed for 20 seconds before the first one is drawn. Three more balls are drawn after 10-second mixing intervals between each selection. The team with the drawn four-number combination wins the draft lottery. The process is then repeated for picks Nos. 2-14.
There are 1,001 possible combinations for each set of four ping-pong balls drawn from the lottery of 14.
After the picks are determined, a representative from Ernst & Young places the results in 14 sealed envelopes and delivers them to Tatum, who will open the envelopes one by one during the broadcast.
How many times have non-favorites won the draft lottery?
Teams with the best chances to win typically do, but there have been several draft lottery upsets.
The New Orleans Pelicans won the right to draft Zion Williamson at No. 1 in 2019, overcoming 6% odds of winning the lottery draft. The Cleveland Cavaliers won the lottery in 2014 despite a minuscule 1.7% chance at No. 1. The Cavaliers in 2011 (2.8%), Washington Wizards in 2010 (10.3%), Chicago Bulls in 2008 (1.7%) and Portland Trail Blazers in 2007 (5.3%) each frustrated a lot of bad teams by defying lottery odds.
In seven of the last eight years, teams with the best odds of winning have won the draft lottery.
This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.