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Lucky and Unlucky teams in the NBA Lottery (1994-Present)

In 1994 the NBA lottery switched to the lottery system they used today where teams are given increasing odds for the #1 seed the worse their record is. This occurred because in 1993 the Magic had the best record in the lottery and won the lottery with their one chance with a 1.52% chance of this occurring. Today, they use 1,000 different ping pong ball combinations and the #1 worse record gets 250 combinations (25%) and the best lottery team gets 5 combinations which is 0.50%. Using this great website I was able to quickly gather the pluses and minuses for each team. The tricky part was finding out when the draft team did not match the pick team and why this occurred. A lot of instances, this happened and the net impact was 0, so I skipped them. In other cases where something did happen (a plus or minus effect), I looked up the trade and went to see if it was pre lottery or post lottery. If it was after the lottery, then I used the original pick owning team listed on the website. If it was before the lottery, I used the picking team. I will list all of these below. I might have missed some trades or misread when trades occurred. I did not take into account draft protection because I didn't want to look up all of that.

Explanation of pluses and minuses: If the ping pong balls followed the odds perfectly, then every team would have +/- of 0. In 2014 the Cavs were slotted to pick #9. But in 2014 the Cavs jumped to the #1 pick which was +8 for them. Every other pick followed the odds, so every team the Cavs jumped got bumped down one, receiving a -1.

Here are the totals from 1994-2014.

Cleveland Cavaliers: +11

L.A. Clippers: +9

Philadelphia 76ers: +8

Charlotte Hornets/Bobcats: +4

Houston Rockets: +4

Portland Trail Blazers: +4

Brooklyn/NJ Nets: +3

Milwaukee Bucks: +3

Chicago Bulls: +2

San Antonio Spurs: +2

OKC Thunder/Seattle SuperSonics: +1

Utah Jazz: +1

Atlanta Hawks: 0

Detroit Pistons: 0

Indiana Pacers: 0

New Orleans Pelicans: 0

Dallas Mavericks: -1

L.A. Lakers: -1

New York Knicks: -1

Miami Heat: -2

Phoenix Suns: -2

Toronto Raptors: -2

Washington Wizards: -2

Memphis/Vancouver Grizzlies: -4

Orlando Magic: -4

Boston Celtics: -5

Denver Nuggets: -5

Golden State Warriors: -5

Minnesota Timberwolves: -9

Sacramento Kings: -9

Fun Facts:

Biggest jump was in 1999 to the Charlotte Hornets as they jumped 10 spots to the #3 pick!

Bulls of 2008 and Cavs of 2014 had the biggest jumps of 8 to the #1 pick.

Sacramento Kings have never gotten a positive return. In the last 6 years they picked up their whole -9. Minnesota also has never had a positive return, but their -9 is more spread out starting in 1994 and becoming -9 in 2011.

Trades that shifted pluses and minuses:

In 1999 the Cavs received a -1 as they received Boston's lottery pick before the lottery.

In 2000 the Bulls received a -1 as they received Washington's lottery pick before the lottery.

In 2003 the Pistons received a +4 as they received the Grizzlies' lottery pick before the lottery.

In 2011 the Cavs received a +7 as they received the Clippers' lottery pick before the lottery.

In 2011 the Jazz received a +3 as they received Brooklyn's lottery pick before the lottery.

I know it is not perfect and I cut a lot of corners. I also didn't use the percentages each team had, just a simple plus and minus. If anyone wants the excel file with the percentages each team had for the #1 pick, let me know.

Hope you found this interesting!

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