Posted by: Andy-Larsen on May 18th, 2010The author's views are entirely his or her own and may not reflect the views of the Utah Jazz.
The NBA Draft Lottery is today and with some luck, a top-3 pick that could change our franchise. But what are the exact odds of the Jazz moving up from #9? Let’s do a quick investigation.
The Draft Lottery works like this: 14 ping pong balls are numbered 1 through 14, and placed in a standard lottery machine. Of these, 4 balls will be selected. This means there are 1,001 combinations of balls possible (14!/(10!*4!), for you math geeks like me). Each team is then given a certain amount of combinations, based on how poorly they did during the regular season (from Wikipedia):
- 250 combinations, 25.0% chance of receiving the #1 pick
- 199 combinations, 19.9% chance
- 156 combinations, 15.6% chance
- 119 combinations, 11.9% chance
- 88 combinations, 8.8% chance
- 63 combinations, 6.3% chance
- 43 combinations, 4.3% chance
- 28 combinations, 2.8% chance
- 17 combinations, 1.7% chance
- 11 combinations, 1.1% chance
- 8 combinations, 0.8% chance
- 7 combinations, 0.7% chance
- 6 combinations, 0.6% chance
- 5 combinations, 0.5% chance
In the case of tied teams (like we are with the Clippers, both tied teams receive the average number of combinations between their picks. Therefore, we have 28 + 17 /2 =22 combinations in our favor.
The NBA picks 4 balls from the lottery machine, looks up which team holds that winning combination, and gives that team the first pick in the draft. Then, the balls are returned to the lottery machine, and a new combination is drawn. If a team is picked that has already won, different balls are picked until a new team’s combination appears. This happens for the first 3 picks in the draft, and then picks 4-14 are assigned based on regular season overall record. Thus, the worst team in the NBA is guaranteed at least the #4 pick. The representative from each team (the topic of much Jazzbots conversation recently) watches this process, just to make sure nothing sinister is going on.
Later, after the NBA knows the results, it reveals the draft order in reverse (starting at 14) on ESPN to build suspense. To me, this is less fun than actually watching the lottery balls would be, but oh well.
The Knicks tied for the 8th worst record in the league, but we lost a coin flip with the Clippers, so we have the 9th spot currently. Interestingly, that coin flip doesn’t change the odds of us getting a top pick, it just cements our position at #9 if we lose the lottery. In order for that to change, we have to either
a) win the lottery for 1 of the top 3 spots, or
b) have a team below us win the lottery, so that we would be shifted downward.
Therefore, we can only receive the 1-3 picks or the 9-12 picks. Here are the odds of all possibilities:
1st pick: 2.2%
2nd pick: 2.57%
3rd pick: 3.08%
9th pick: 78.75%
10th pick: 13.0%
11th pick: 0.4%
12th pick .01%
Let’s be clear, the odds are not in our favor, and it would take a small miracle to have us move up in the draft order. Still, you should definitely wear every possible piece of lucky clothing you own today.
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