The 2020-21 NBA regular season is officially in the books, and while the bulk of the league will now look ahead to the postseason, the NBA's worst teams are focused on a very different prize. The NBA will hold its annual draft lottery on June 22, and with Sunday's game now complete, the teams occupying the bottom of the standings know their odds of securing the No. 1 pick and the right to, potentially, select Oklahoma State star Cade Cunningham.
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Here is how the odds look at this moment:
1. Houston Rockets: 14 percent
2. Detroit Pistons: 14 percent
3. Orlando Magic: 14 percent
4. Cleveland Cavaliers: 11.5 percent (tie)
4. Oklahoma City Thunder: 11.5 percent (tie)
6. Minnesota Timberwolves: 9 percent
7. Toronto Raptors: 7.5 percent
8. New Orleans Pelicans: 4.5 percent (tie)
8. Sacramento Kings: 4.5 percent (tie)
8. Chicago Bulls: 4.5 percent (tie)
11. Charlotte Hornets: 1.8 percent
12. San Antonio Spurs; 1.7 percent
13. Indiana Pacers: 1 percent
14. Memphis Grizzlies: 0.5 percent
The lottery itself determines only the top four picks. Ping pong balls numbered 1-14 are put into a lottery machine and four are drawn. Each team is given a certain number of combinations of those 14 numbers, with 1,001 total combinations existing. The first drawing of those four ping pong balls determines the No. 1 pick, with the process repeated for the next three selections after that. Thereafter, teams pick in reverse order of record.
The first thing you'll notice this season, specifically? There is an abundance of ties. When two teams are tied in the lottery, the combined odds of those slots are combined and divided evenly among the teams in question. Coin flips are then used to determine where those teams fall in relation to the other should none of them jump into the top four picks.
This season will also be affected by a number of highly impactful trades. The Golden State Warriors will receive Minnesota's selection if it falls outside of the top three. If Houston's selection falls outside of the top four, Oklahoma City has the right to swap Miami's later first-round pick for it. If Chicago's pick falls outside of the top four, it is conveyed to Orlando as part of the Nikola Vucevic trade.
The final four slots in the lottery are still subject to the play-in round of the postseason. If Charlotte, San Antonio, Indiana or Memphis reach the playoffs, the teams they replace in the top eight of their conferences would fall down into the lottery. Their placement within the lottery would be based on their regular-season records. San Antonio, Indiana or Memphis could therefore move up if the play-in teams in front of them reach the playoffs.
The NBA Draft will be held on July 29, and the lottery will take place on June 22. For now, the NBA's worst teams can do little more than wait, scout top prospects, and hope that the lottery gods smile upon them a little more than a month from now.