2018 NBA Draft Lottery Primer

The 2018 NBA draft lottery will take place on Tuesday night in Chicago before Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Finals begins in Boston. Here’s what you need to know heading into tonight’s event:

Pre-Lottery Draft Order:

The top 14 picks in the 2018 NBA draft would look like this if tonight’s lottery results don’t change the order:

  1. Phoenix Suns
  2. Memphis Grizzlies
  3. Dallas Mavericks
  4. Atlanta Hawks
  5. Orlando Magic
  6. Chicago Bulls
  7. Sacramento Kings
  8. Cleveland Cavaliers (from Nets)
  9. New York Knicks
  10. Philadelphia 76ers (from Lakers)
    • Note: Celtics will receive pick if it lands at No. 2 or No. 3 via lottery
  11. Charlotte Hornets
  12. Los Angeles Clippers (from Pistons)
    • Note: Pistons will keep pick if it moves into top three via lottery.
  13. Los Angeles Clippers
  14. Denver Nuggets

For the full pre-lottery draft order, click here.

Draft Lottery Odds:

The Suns will have a 25.0% chance at the first overall pick and a 64.2% chance at a top-three pick. That puts them in the driver’s seat, as they won’t be picking any lower than fourth.

The Grizzlies (19.9% at No. 1; 55.8% at top-three), Mavericks (13.8% and 42.6%), and Hawks (13.7% and 42.3%) have the next-best odds at a top pick, with the odds for the remaining lottery teams declining from there.

For the full draft lottery odds for all 14 spots, click here.

Trades Affecting The Draft Lottery:

Three trades will have an impact on Tuesday night’s lottery results. They are as follows:

The Cavaliers own the Nets‘ unprotected first-round pick, so Cleveland will receive that selection no matter where it lands. It’s currently projected to be No. 8 overall.

The Sixers own the Lakers‘ unprotected first-round pick, but will send that pick to the Celtics if it moves up to No. 2 or No. 3 in the lottery. If it stays where it is (No. 10), moves up to No. 1, or moves down at all, the 76ers will keep it, which is the likely outcome (97.1% chance).

  • Note: If the Sixers keep this pick, the Celtics will receive a top-one protected pick from the Sixers in 2019 (the most favorable of the Kings and Sixers picks).

The Clippers own the Pistons‘ top-three protected first-round pick. If it moves up to the top three in the lottery, that selection will stick with Detroit. However, it’s currently projected to be No. 12, limiting the odds of it moving up. The Clips have a 97.5% chance of ending up with the pick.

  • Note: If the Pistons keep their pick, the Clippers will receive a top-four protected pick from the Pistons in 2019.

Draft Lottery Representatives:

The on-stage representatives for each of this year’s lottery teams are as follows, according to a press release issued by the NBA:

  • Atlanta Hawks: Jami Gertz (co-owner)
  • Boston Celtics: Rich Gotham (president)
  • Charlotte Hornets: Mitch Kupchak (president of basketball operations / GM)
  • Chicago Bulls: Michael Reinsdorf (president / COO)
  • Cleveland Cavaliers: Nick Gilbert (son of owner Dan Gilbert)
  • Dallas Mavericks: Michael Finley (assistant VP of basketball operations)
  • Denver Nuggets: Jamal Murray
  • Detroit Pistons: Luke Kennard
  • Los Angeles Clippers: Jerry West (consultant)
  • Memphis Grizzlies: Elliot Perry (minority owner / director of player support)
  • New York Knicks: Scott Perry (GM)
  • Orlando Magic: Jeff Weltman (president of basketball operations)
  • Philadelphia 76ers: Elton Brand (GM of Delaware Blue Coats)
  • Phoenix Suns: Josh Jackson
  • Sacramento Kings: De’Aaron Fox

Final Year For Current Lottery Format:

This will be the final year that the lottery uses the current odds, including a 25% chance at the No. 1 pick for the NBA’s worst team. Starting in 2019, the league’s three worst teams will have an equal shot (14.0%) at landing the first overall pick, and the top four spots in the draft will be decided in the lottery. That means the league’s worst team could slip as far as No. 5.

Additionally, the odds at a top pick will be smoothed out throughout the top 14. While the NBA’s very worst teams will still have the best chance to land the very best picks, the difference won’t be as significant as it has been. For instance, in the current format, the NBA’s eighth-worst team has a 10% chance at a top-three pick. In the new format, that club’s odds would increase to a 26% chance at a top-four pick.

For full details on the lottery changes for 2019, click here.

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7 thoughts on “2018 NBA Draft Lottery Primer

  1. hiflew

    Jami Gertz is co-owner of the Hawks? Is that the same Jami Gertz that was a member of the 80s “Brat Pack?” I imagine it is since that is not exactly a common name combo. That’s just weird.

    • Luke Adams

      Yeah, she’s married to Hawks majority owner Tony Ressler.

  2. Thronson5

    So there’s absolutely no way the Lakers keep their pick even if it landed at 1? Just want to make sure I’m reading it correctly.

    • Luke Adams

      Right. Sixers get it at 1, Celtics at 2 or 3. And the Sixers will get it if it doesn’t move up.

  3. dfree123

    So who has to sit there for the Lakers and pass off their pick to the Sixers or Celtics? Can’t imagine Magic is going to be there for that one.

    • Luke Adams

      In situations where a team DEFINITELY won’t get its pick (ie. Nets + Lakers), no rep will be there. But the Celtics and Pistons reps will probably end up disappointed, since they have to be on stage despite the <3% chance they'll get a pick.

  4. The new lottery format next year makes more sense than the current one, in terms of distributing the elite talent, but I’m not sure it’s really going to reduce tanking. The assumption that a team is less likely to tank if they have a shot at the playoffs isn’t necessarily a good one after you give the teams that just miss a real shot at a top 4 pick.


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