By Julie Glass
The NBA’s draft lottery won’t be held today in Chicago as originally planned, but whenever it does happen, it is likely to look the same as it did last year.
Since play was suspended March 11 due to the coronavirus pandemic, teams at the top of the standings have been curious about the league restarting because they are in pursuit of a championship. For teams at the bottom of the standings, the focus has been on what the lottery will look like.
Although some will inevitably grumble about the order being determined by an incomplete regular season, the belief among several executives is that the lottery will remain as scheduled before the pandemic.
“I wouldn’t expect changes,” one executive with a lottery-bound team told ESPN.
Executives brought up several potential reasons that the lottery wouldn’t be tweaked because of the unusual circumstances in which the league finds itself. One is the fact that every team in the league has played somewhere between 63 and 67 games — or more than 75% of its season, a representative sample. Although things likely would have shifted in the final few weeks of the regular season, there isn’t a credible argument to be made that not enough games have been played to fairly set the order.
Another reason is the changes to the lottery that the league implemented last year. Under the old system, the top three picks in the draft were determined by the lottery, with the team with the worst record having a 25% chance to win the right to the first pick and a sliding scale for each subsequent pick.
Under the new system, the top four spots are selected via the lottery, and the odds are drastically flattened. The teams with the worst three records are given 14% odds of winning the top pick, and the teams fourth through 13th in the lottery have their odds of moving up increased.