2019 NBA Draft Lottery Primer

The 2019 NBA draft lottery will take place on Tuesday night in Chicago before Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals. The half-hour event will be broadcast on ESPN beginning at 7:30 pm central time.

As Tim Bontemps and Brian Windhorst of ESPN.com outline, there’s a ton at stake in the 2019 lottery, as many of the teams involved could badly use a player like Zion Williamson or Ja Morant. The results could also have an impact on the offseason’s Anthony Davis sweepstakes, since whichever club lands the No. 1 pick will immediately have a viable AD trade chip.

Here’s what you need to know heading into tonight’s lottery:


Pre-Lottery Draft Order:

The top 14 picks in the 2019 NBA draft would look like this if tonight’s lottery results don’t change the order:

  1. New York Knicks
  2. Cleveland Cavaliers
  3. Phoenix Suns
  4. Chicago Bulls
  5. Atlanta Hawks
  6. Washington Wizards
  7. New Orleans Pelicans
  8. Memphis Grizzlies
    • Note: The Celtics will receive this pick if it falls out of the top eight.
  9. Atlanta Hawks (from Mavericks)
    • Note: The Mavericks will keep this pick if it moves up into the top four.
  10. Minnesota Timberwolves
  11. Los Angeles Lakers
  12. Charlotte Hornets
  13. Miami Heat
  14. Boston Celtics (from Kings)
    • Note: The Sixers will receive this pick if it moves up to No. 1.

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


Draft Lottery Odds:

The Knicks, Cavaliers, and Suns have the best odds to land the No. 1 pick. Each team has a 14.0% chance to pick first overall, and a 52.1% shot at a top-four pick.

From there, the Bulls (48.0%), Hawks (42.1%), and Wizards (37.2%) have the best odds at a top-four selection, with no other team above 26.3%.

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:

Celtics/Grizzlies

The Celtics own the Grizzlies‘ top-eight protected first-round pick, so they’ll receive that selection if it’s No. 9 or lower. There’s a 42.6% chance that happens.

Memphis also has a 26.3% chance of moving up into the top four. The worst-case scenario for the Grizzlies, who wouldn’t mind conveying their pick this year so it doesn’t become even more attractive in a future draft, would be for the pick to land at No. 8 — there’s a 31.1% chance of that.

If the Grizzlies keep the pick this year, they’d owe the Celtics their top-six protected first-round pick in 2020.

Hawks/Mavericks

The Hawks own the Mavericks‘ top-five protected first-round pick, so they’ll receive the selection if it’s No. 6 or lower. Technically, the Dallas pick can’t fall between 5-8 due to the team’s place in the lottery.

There’s a 26.3% chance that the Mavericks’ pick will move up into the top four, in which case Dallas would keep it. Atlanta has a 73.7% chance to end up with the selection, including a 46.4% chance that it’s at No. 9.

If the Mavericks keep the pick this year, they’d owe the Hawks their top-five protected first-round pick in 2020.

Kings/Celtics/Sixers

The Celtics own the Kings‘ first-round pick, which has a 95.2% chance to land at No. 14. However, there are two scenarios that could shake up the draft.

The pick has a 3.8% chance of moving up to the 2-4 range, in which case it would stick with Boston, giving the C’s a chance to draft a top-four player after appearing in the Eastern Conference Semifinals.

If the pick moves all the way up to No. 1 (1.0% chance), the Sixers would acquire the pick, sending their own first-rounder (No. 24) to Boston. In that long-shot scenario, Philadelphia would be in position to draft Williamson after playing in the Eastern Semifinals themselves.


Draft Lottery Representatives:

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

  1. New York Knicks
    • On stage: Patrick Ewing (former player)
    • Lottery room: Allan Houston (special assistant to the GM)
  2. Cleveland Cavaliers
    • On stage: Nick Gilbert (son of team owner)
    • Lottery room: Brock Aller (senior director of basketball operations)
  3. Phoenix Suns
  4. Chicago Bulls
    • On stage: Horace Grant (special advisor to president/COO)
    • Lottery room: Joey Reinsdorf (son of president/COO)
  5. Atlanta Hawks
    • On stage: Jami Gertz (co-owner)
    • Lottery room: Michelle Leftwich (VP, salary cap administration)
  6. Washington Wizards
    • On stage: Raul Fernandez (vice chairman)
    • Lottery room: Tommy Sheppard (senior VP of basketball operations)
  7. New Orleans Pelicans
    • On stage: Alvin Gentry (head coach)
    • Lottery room: David Griffin (executive VP of basketball operations)
  8. Memphis Grizzlies
    • On stage: Elliot Perry (minority owner / director of player support)
    • Lottery room: Zach Kleiman (executive VP of basketball operations)
  9. Dallas Mavericks
    • On stage: Cynthia Marshall (CEO)
    • Lottery room: Keith Grant (assistant GM)
  10. Minnesota Timberwolves
    • On stage: Gersson Rosas (president of basketball operations)
    • Lottery room: Brad Ruiter (VP of communications)
  11. Los Angeles Lakers
    • On stage: Kyle Kuzma
    • Lottery room: Rob Pelinka (GM)
  12. Charlotte Hornets
    • On stage: James Borrego (head coach)
    • Lottery room: Buzz Peterson (assistant GM)
  13. Miami Heat
    • On stage: Alonzo Mourning (VP, player programs)
    • Lottery room: Andy Elisburg (senior VP of basketball operations / GM)
  14. Boston Celtics
    • On stage: Rich Gotham (president)
    • Lottery room: Mike Zarren (assistant GM)
  15. Philadelphia 76ers
    • On stage: Chris Heck (president)
    • Lottery room: Ian Hillman (VP, strategy & analytics)

First Year For Current Lottery Format:

This will be the first year that the NBA uses its new lottery system, which reduces the odds that the league’s very worst teams will land a top pick and makes the top four selections available via the lottery, instead of the top three.

As we outlined when we took a closer look at four potential lottery results, the new format could create a little more mayhem on lottery night.

For instance, in past years, there was a 60.5% chance that one of the league’s bottom three teams would secure the No. 1 pick, and only a 27.6% chance that a team in the 5-14 range of the lottery standings would do so. This year, those odds are 42.0% and 45.5%, respectively.

For full details on the new lottery format, click here.


Photos courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

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24 thoughts on “2019 NBA Draft Lottery Primer

  1. hiflew

    I have feeling we will see one of the lower teams getting the #1 pick this year. My gut is telling me Washington. Although I think Zion would be pretty cool on the Hornets.

    • Gary

      I think the powers to be are in control.

      If Washington gets the number one pick that would be such a dud for the NBA. No excitement created. I don’t think there’s any way the Wizards or the Hornets would get the number one pick. It’s got to be the Knicks or another team that would create a buzz.

      • hiflew

        Just put on your aluminum foil hat and all will be right with the world.

        Seriously, every single team has a representative there during the selection process. Do you really think that many people can keep quiet about a conspiracy such as this? For that matter, do you think any of those teams would just sit back and let it happen?

  2. Brad

    Zion would be huge for the Wiz. Does AD stay if they get the Zion pick themselves? Is it enough?

    • TheTruth12

      What kind of a dumb question is this? A guy regardless of how good he is, has yet to prove himself in the NBA, even with Zion and AD the Pelicans are at best a 1st round exit. AD wants to win and the fact is the Pelicans won’t win anything anytime soon…. other than maybe the lottery in a year or 2.

      • hiflew

        But with just AD and no Zion in 2017, the Pels made the Western semis. I don’t see how adding Zion to the mix makes them a worse team.

    • Gary

      That would be a dud for the NBA as I mentioned above. They’ve had their time in the sun couple years ago.

      Patrick Ewing is there at the lottery to remind us it’s been since 1985 that the Knicks have won the lottery. It’s their time again.

      • knickscavsfan

        I’m a fan of both teams but I disagree with it being a dud if the Cavs get the #1. The story line would be the new LBJ replaces the old LBJ. Their future success lies in the GMs ability to maximize their assets. Right now the Cavs have:

        a) Sexton coming off a very good rookie season.

        b) They have tons of trade assets. Not sure if they can move Love’s contract but I think a lot of playoff contenders would want a true stretch for that can give you 10 rebounds and 3pt shooting.

        Tristan @ 1/$18 mil
        JR Smith @ 1/$15 mil only $4 mil is guaranteed
        Brandon McKnight @ 1/$15 mil
        Jordan Clarkson @ 1/$13 mil
        Henson @1/$9 mil
        Delladova @ $9 mil
        Cedi @ 1/$3 mil (altho I think he might be an extension candidate).

        That’s 7 guys on expiring deals, some of whom would be excellent role players on a championship contender.

        c) They’ll likely have a top 3 and the 26th overall and I think a few 2nd rounders. Let’s see who they can get.

  3. Connorsoxfan

    Does the league bail out Boston and give them the #2 pick from SAC to take Morant?

  4. david

    It would be pretty exciting if the mavs got Zion. Luka, Zion and Porzingis would be so cool together.

    But realistically (if mavs kept there 1st rounder) morant or barrett be also cool as well

  5. x%sure

    I wondered about a rigged draft in the mid-80s after good luck by NYC and Texas teams. But not since. The system is better, but why they do it in private is aggravating. It’s like Silver wants teams to be suspicious of rigging so they treat him nicer!

    • Gary

      You’re probably right, but I bet the number one pick has hoopla and not yawns.

    • Yep it is

      The do it in private because the NBA is Clueless. What if the NFL suddenly started ping everything in Private? Some sports just don’t get how to make the most of their opportunities.

    • hiflew

      They don’t do it in private, they just do it off camera. The reason they do it like that is to build suspense up to the #1 pick. Off camera, the #1 pick is the first one chosen, but on camera it is the last one revealed. If you start doing the picks on camera, lots of people would tune out after the 1st pick is revealed.

      • x%sure

        That’s a good reason for all the wrong reasons!
        Zach Lowe’s reporting on the real event was quite entertaining but it is hard for a tv production to match a good and well-written story.

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