NBA Draft Lottery 2014 Format: Explaining Process and Coin-Flip Scenarios

R. Cory SmithSenior Writer IApril 15, 2014

NEW YORK, NY - MAY 21: A general overall view during the 2013 NBA Draft Lottery on May 21, 2013 at the ABC News' 'Good Morning America' Times Square Studio in New York City. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2013 NBAE (Photo by Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images)
Jesse D. Garrabrant/Getty Images

One of the most exciting times of the year for NBA fans is the end of the regular season.

For some, it's the beginning of the second season where every playoff team has a chance to reach the NBA Finals. For others, the end of the regular season marks a time of relief from watching their team after a horrid season.

But what the end of the regular season means for those not in the postseason is the lottery is nearly set for some teams who have worked hard all season to secure one of the top spots. With everything from pingpong balls, coin flips and tiebreakers still to come, multiple teams will still have to wait for the good or bad news.

While teams who had hopes of earning the No. 1 pick in the draft might be sorely disappointed by the time the actual lottery takes place, just being in the top five, and even top 10, of this year's draft will pay off with the amount of talent in the class.

Here's a look at how the process works and possible coin-flip scenarios.


NBA Draft Process

The actual process itself seems relatively simple, but the percentages given to each team makes it difficult to understand.

Every team in the lottery is given a specific amount of pingpong balls which will decide their chances at earning the No. 1 pick. Chances are that the 0.5 percent chance for the No. 14 team will result in them picking well outside of the top 10, and vice versa for the No. 1 team in the process.

Below is a look at the odds for No. 1 through 14 and their chances at getting the top pick:

  1. 250 combinations, 25.0% chance of receiving the No. 1 pick
  2. 199 combinations, 19.9% chance
  3. 156 combinations, 15.6% chance
  4. 119 combinations, 11.9% chance
  5. 88 combinations, 8.8% chance
  6. 63 combinations, 6.3% chance
  7. 43 combinations, 4.3% chance
  8. 28 combinations, 2.8% chance
  9. 17 combinations, 1.7% chance
  10. 11 combinations, 1.1% chance
  11. 8 combinations, 0.8% chance
  12. 7 combinations, 0.7% chance
  13. 6 combinations, 0.6% chance
  14. 5 combinations, 0.5% chance

The other 16 teams in this scenario are, of course, all playoff teams. Each of those franchises will get a chance to select in inverse order of their regular-season records. In the second round, all teams select in the inverse order of their regular-season records.

But even for the teams that missed out on one of the top-five spots, there is a wealth of talented players, as Jason McIntyre of The Big Lead notes (via USA Today):

I believe the top three players are clearly Wiggins-Embiid-Parker, but the next wave — Arizona's Aaron Gordon, Kentucky's Julius Randle and Australian Dante Exum — are very good as well.

... The player to watch who could crack that top three is Gordon. He's a joy to watch defensively — not just on his man, but he helps and rotates as if it is second nature — and when he adds an offensive game, he'll be Blake Griffin quicker than Blake Griffin turned into Blake Griffin.

As for any sort of teams who are tied at the end of the regular season, a coin flip will be used to determine the order for those two franchises. There will be no three-way ties in the NBA standings this season, so the need for a tiebreaker outside of the coin flip is unnecessary.

When the lottery finally takes place on May 20, those franchises vying for a quality player will have to go through the entire process of the combine and individual workouts to pick out the player that fits their system before it all begins on June 26.

Though some believe this could be one of the best classes in quite some time, Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim has been quoted as saying he believes otherwise, per's Adam Zagoria:

There’s no player that’s out there on the horizon that’s a Tim Duncan or a LeBron James. I’ve seen all these guys play. I think they’re very talented players. They’re not that kind of player. They’re not transcendent players that are gonna make your franchise into a 10-12-15-year winning franchise because you’re there. I don’t see that.

Regardless of what teams believe about the class itself, each of the bottom 14 teams will have to wait throughout the lottery to see who they have a chance to grab.

Teams have worked hard to get to the top of the lottery—though that's not necessarily a compliment—each franchise will see the fruits of their labor when the lottery process finally starts.


Follow R. Cory Smith on Twitter: