NBA Draft 2012 : A New Lottery Format Proposal That Works

SchmolikCorrespondent IIMay 27, 2012

Anthony Davis may be able to use that "No. 1" hat later this June.
Anthony Davis may be able to use that "No. 1" hat later this June.Jeff Gross/Getty Images

Hello, NBA fans!

We're down to only four teams remaining in the NBA Playoffs. The remaining 26 teams are now looking forward to next season.

Wednesday is the NBA Draft Lottery.

Officially, all of the non-playoff teams (or the teams who own their rights) have a "chance" to get the first pick in the upcoming NBA Draft (projected by several websites to be Kentucky forward Anthony Davis). Mathematically, several NBA teams have little or no chance to win the lottery or claim one of the top three picks in the draft.

After the top three picks have been determined, the lottery is over and all other teams pick in reverse order of how teams finished the NBA season.

This year, the Houston Rockets have the best record among non-playoff teams. They have only five chances out of 1,000 to get the overall No. 1 draft choice. Their odds of getting a top-three pick are slim as well. In 2006, the team with the best record, Utah, had a 0.59% of getting the No. 2 pick and a 0.72% chance of getting the No. 3 pick. If they don't get a top-three pick, they will automatically pick 14th.

The Phoenix Suns have the next best record. They have a 6-in-1,000 chance for No. 1. Unless they or Houston make it into the top three, the Suns will pick 13th. If Houston somehow gets into the top three and Phoenix doesn't, Phoenix picks 14th.

You can see now that the teams near the bottom of the draft lottery have little chance at improving their draft position. I wonder if it is worth it for Houston, Phoenix, Milwaukee (7-in-1,000 chance for No. 1) or Portland (8-in-1,000 chance) to even show up for the lottery.


I am not saying teams at the bottom should have a better chance at the top three picks than teams with the worst records in the league.

However, teams should be able to improve their draft positions one or two places.

After all, it is called a "lottery." When I think of lotteries, I think of balls being drawn from a machine.

The NBA lottery is run in that fashion, but the lottery is, in fact, done in private. The draft-lottery show is nothing more than the results of the private lottery. That is like looking up the numbers in the paper or online the next day.

It would be nice to actually have a true "lottery" that fans can watch. Unfortunately, if the NBA publicizes the actual lottery, the first pick would be revealed right away, making the rest of the lottery anticlimactic.

So I've come up with my own lottery format. Since the odds are fairly complicated, I'm not sure whether this helps or hurts teams more or less than the current system. But I think this system has more entertainment value.

The lottery will be done entirely live. The format will consist of several rounds.

For the first round, the five teams with the best records (yes, I said "best") will be in play.

Fifteen balls are placed in a lottery machine. The team with the best record gets five balls, the next best record gets four, and the team with the worst record gets one.


Among these balls, three are drawn. The team whose ball is picked first drafts No. 14 (last in the lottery). The team whose ball is drawn second (not counting duplicates) drafts No. 13. The team whose ball is drawn third drafts No. 12.

The second round consists of the two teams whose balls were not drawn in the first round and the next three best records. Among these five teams, the team that has the best record gets five balls, four for the next best record, and so on. Three more balls are drawn for picks No. 11, No. 10 and No. 9.

The two survivors advance to the third round with the next three best records. Three balls are drawn for picks No. 8, No. 7 and No. 6.

The final round consists of the two survivors from the third round and the three teams with the worst records. Therefore, these three teams are guaranteed no worse than a pick in the top five. Four balls are drawn for picks No. 5, No. 4, No. 3 and No. 2.

The team whose ball is not drawn wins the lottery and the overall No. 1 pick.

As you can see, draft choices are now picked in reverse order, building to the first pick, and teams are gradually eliminated from the draft.

If the lottery were in place this year, here would be the assignments:

Round 1 (Picks 12 to 14): Houston (5), Phoenix (4), Milwaukee (3), Portland (2) and Minnesota (1)


Round 2 (Picks 9 to 11): the Round-1 survivor with the better record (5), the Round-1 survivor with the worse record (4), Detroit (3), Toronto (2) and Golden State (1). Detroit, Toronto and Golden State cannot draft worst than No. 11.

Round 3 (Picks 6 to 8): the Round-2 survivor with the better record (5), the Round-2 survivor with the worse record (4), New Jersey (3), Sacramento (2) and New Orleans (1). New Jersey, Sacramento and New Orleans cannot draft worse than No. 8.

Round 4 (Picks 2 to 5): the Round-3 survivor with the better record (5), the Round-3 survivor with the worse record (4), Cleveland (3), Washington (2) and Charlotte (1). Cleveland, Washington and Charlotte cannot draft worse than No. 5.

The team that finished the previous season with the league's best record has almost no chance of winning or getting anywhere near the top. However, it has a 66 percent chance of not picking last and some chance of moving up several spots.

Currently, the odds are about 98% that the team with the best record will draft last.

Since it has the most balls in the first round, odds are it will have one of the three lowest draft picks. But I think it will be fun to see how long that team survives if somehow it can dodge a round or two (keep in mind, it will always have the worst odds to survive each round).

All other teams can now hurt their draft pick, if one of their balls is drawn earlier, but they can also improve their pick, as well.


It is still possible for anyone to win the lottery although the three teams with the worst records only have to make it through one round (and are guaranteed a top-five pick) while the five teams with the best records have to survive four rounds (and worse odds to survive each successive round).

In any event, the lottery will have more of a lottery feel and all of the balls will be drawn in public rather than private.

If the NBA is expanded (or, God forbid, contracted), the format would be altered slightly.

Barring a miracle, let me give you the results of this years draft: Houston (No. 14), Phoenix (No. 13) and Milwaukee (No. 12). At some point, a team will have beaten the odds and make the top three. That will be the official start of the lottery.

I think my lottery format would be more exciting than what we now have. The results can be completely random instead of you pretty much knowing who will draft next.

At the very least, you will see balls drawn. What a concept!