Understanding the NBA Lottery

The lottery is obviously all about probability, and this is what confuses the casual fan. While the team with the worst record has the highest chance to win at 25%, but that also means that the field has a 75% chance of winning the number one pick. History agrees with this (since 1994 when the modern lottery was in place) the team with the worst record has only won only 2 out of 16 times or 12.5%.

This may seem small, but remember the sample size and also everything has variability. For example, the probability of the worst team only winning the lottery 2 out of 16 times is high about at about 13.4% chance whereas what you would expect (4 out of the 16) is only a 22.5% chance. If you want to know how I got that just ask below and I will try my best to explain it.

So for all those NBA Lottery conspiracy people about the draft, the numbers show that Stern is not messing with the balls odds of each team.

As we all know last year the Kings had the worst record and it seemed we were destined to have Blake Griffin, but the ping pong balls said else wise. But here is a fun facts about having the worst record it is more likely to pick 4th than 1st. This brings up the question of why?

It is easy to understand that if the worst team has a 250 combination out of 1000, that the team will win 25% of the time. Here is were the nerdiest weirdness sets in. The chances the team picks 2nd is about 21.5%, 3rd 17.8, and then the league has a rule that the worst record can pick no later than 4th so the probability of picking 4th is the percentages of 4th through 14th added up. The sum of 4 through 14 is 35.7%. Alternatively you could just do 1 minus the percentage of picking 1-3 (100-25-21.5-17.8= if you wanted the numbers).

Basically if you are a betting man on what pick the Nets will get go with 4th, the numbers are on your side.  I hope that shows why we where stuck with got the 4th pick last year (someone that looks like this guy).





Now on to the Kings and their draft pick this year. First I will talk about expected value. Expected value is exactly what it sounds like; the most likely event to happen. Basically if you simed this years draft a 10 million times this would be the each team's average draft position. The Kings are at 3.407 that may be weird, but let me put it in prospective.

Nets 2.642 - remember the picking 4th thing...

T-Wolves- 2.979- the numbers say they will pick 3rd  hopefully not taking another point guard

Kings- 3.407 (making Favors or Cousins very realistic)

Golden State and the Wizards- about   4.427 (for each of them because the tie in record)

That tanking slump at the end of the year gave the Kings an expected whole pick higher than what they would have had. Well less since the averages of 3-5 would all be averaged, so about .6 of a pick higher. It makes the losses a little easier.

Lastly just some fun with percentages. 46.9% the Kings pick either 1,2,3 and a 96% chance of landing a 5 or better (meaning lower pick).

Hope you understand the lottery a little better and why it is so unpredictable.  I will leave who to pick to Petrie. If the Kings pick 6th, the Raptors win the lottery, the T-Wolves don't pick 3rd, and the Nets win instead of getting the 4th pick and you lose lots of money, don't hate me too much I just go by the numbers.

(This is a FanPost from a member of the Sactown Royalty community. The views expressed come from the member, and not Sactown Royalty staff.)

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