NBA Draft Lottery History: A Numerical Look at Past Success

Since 1990, the NBA switched to a weighted lottery system, giving the team with the worst record during the regular season the best chance at landing the first pick. While the NBA Draft Lottery has undergone various modifications over the years, the system has become the most fair, if not most semi-exciting, method in determining the draft order for the non-playoff teams.Take a look back at the history and numbers of the draft, who has been the luckiest, and some interesting factoids of a day that can change the lives of NBA franchises.

3: The most times a single team, the Orlando Magic, has won the NBA Draft Lottery since the change to the weighted system in 1990, including two straight years in 1992 and 1993.

3: The number of times the team with the worst record and highest probability of winning the number one pick actually wins the pick (New Jersey Nets in 1990; Cleveland Cavaliers in 2003; Orlando Magic in 2004).

5: The 2nd-worst record has won the NBA Draft Lottery more than any other spot on the “worst-record” totem pole.

7: Ever since the 1990 NBA Draft Lottery, this is the number of players who were selected with the first pick and have not yet made an All-Star team (Joe Smith, 1995; Michael Olowokandi, 1998; Kwame Brown, 2001; Andrew Bogut, 2005; Andrea Bargnani, 2006; Greg Oden, 2007; John Wall, 2010).

1.52%: Despite only having one lottery chance in the 1993 NBA Draft Lottery, the Orlando Magic won the rights to the number one pick.

66: The number of lottery chances that existed in the NBA Draft Lottery prior to a change in 1994. With this setup, the team with the worst record would receive 11 picks, the team with the second-worst record would receive 10 picks, and this trend would continue up until the team with the best record out of non-playoff teams, receiving only one pick.

3: The number of years (1996-1998) where the NBA Draft Lottery had a number of lottery chances other than 66 or 1,000 due to the expansion agreement with the Toronto Raptors and the Vancouver Grizzlies. Due to this agreement, the two teams were not eligible to win the lottery for three years and their lottery combinations for the first pick were excluded from the draw.

1996 & 1998: Due to the agreement by the Toronto Raptors and Vancouver Grizzlies, even though they won the 1996 NBA Draft Lottery and the 1998 NBA Draft Lottery, respectively, they were forced to settle for the second pick of the draft that year. Due to this, the Philadelphia 76ers were able to select Allen Iverson with the first pick in 1996 and the Los Angeles Clippers were able to select Michael Olowokandi with the first pick in 1998.

33.73%: In the 1996 NBA Draft Lottery, the Philadelphia 76ers was the team with the highest probability to win the lottery, owning 200 out of the 593 lottery chances.

17: Since the switch to a 1,000 lottery chances in the 1994 NBA Draft Lottery, this is the fewest number of lottery chances a team has had and won the lottery. This feat was accomplished in 2008, where the Chicago Bulls, the team with the 9th-worst record in the NBA that year, selected Derrick Rose with the first pick.

2.8%: While the Cleveland Cavaliers had two chances to win the 2011 NBA Draft Lottery, the pick they received from the Los Angeles Clippers (2.8% probability) in the Baron Davis trade was the winning combination of the lottery and not their own pick, which had a 19.9% probability of winning.

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