Last year, the NBA made a major change regarding how its draft lottery works. Instead of the team with the worst regular-season record having the best odds of landing the No. 1 pick, the three teams with the worst records now have an equal chance of getting the top selection.
The New York Knicks, Cleveland Cavaliers and Phoenix Suns each had a 14 percent chance to secure the No. 1 pick (and land Duke phenom Zion Williamson) in 2019. Instead, the New Orleans Pelicans, who had the seventh-best odds at 6 percent, got lucky, winning the top pick and going on to take Williamson.
This year, the Cavaliers again have a 14 percent chance of landing the top pick, along with the Golden State Warriors and Minnesota Timberwolves. But as last year proved, the new format can still lead to a surprise team having their pingpong ball be the last one pulled at the lottery.
Here are the odds for each of the 14 teams hoping to get lucky at this year's draft lottery, which takes place 8:30 p.m. ET Thursday (ESPN), followed by a look at the teams with the most at stake.
Odds to Land No. 1 Pick
Golden State Warriors: 14 percent
Cleveland Cavaliers: 14 percent
Minnesota Timberwolves: 14 percent
Atlanta Hawks: 12.5 percent
Detroit Pistons: 10.5 percent
New York Knicks: 9 percent
Chicago Bulls: 7.5 percent
Charlotte Hornets: 6 percent
Washington Wizards: 4.5 percent
Phoenix Suns: 3 percent
San Antonio Spurs: 2 percent
Sacramento Kings: 1.3 percent
New Orleans Pelicans: 1.2 percent
Memphis Grizzlies: 0.5 percent
Teams with Most at Stake
Although the Cavaliers have gotten lucky in the draft lottery in the past, their top picks haven't always panned out. Anthony Bennett, the No. 1 overall pick in 2013, is no longer in the NBA. It's still too early to judge Collin Sexton (No. 8 pick in 2018) and Darius Garland (No. 5 pick in 2019), but neither has yet emerged as a top star.
It'll be important for the Cavs to select the right player to add to their core of young guards and veteran post players (Kevin Love and Andre Drummond) so they can get back to contention. Since LeBron James left for Los Angeles, Cleveland has gone 38-109 over the past two seasons.
There's no consensus top player in this year's class, so the Cavaliers will likely have solid options no matter where they end up in the draft order. Of course, it would still be better to land the No. 1 pick rather than falling to No. 7 (their lowest possible spot) so they can have more options regarding potential players they can take.
Will Cleveland add another young guard to add to the rotation with Sexton and Garland? Could it draft a forward to groom under Love who can eventually take over a starting role? The Cavs are stockpiling young players, but soon they'll be looking to see better results, and whether they take the right player in this year's draft could determine how quickly they get back to the playoffs.
New York Knicks
There's been a lot of buzz about mutual interest between the Knicks and point guard LaMelo Ball in recent months. But New York will only be able to land the soon-to-be 19-year-old (his birthday is Saturday) with an early pick. And while trades are always possible, it would be easier for the Knicks to be fortunate at the draft lottery.
New York could end up anywhere in the top four, which could potentially put it in position to draft Ball, or as low as the Nos. 6-10 selections. So, there's a wide range of possibilities for where the Knicks may be selecting come the NBA draft on October 16.
With Leon Rose now serving as president and Tom Thibodeau hired as the head coach, New York has new leadership in place, making this a crucial offseason to see how it will shape the roster to try to end its seven-year playoff drought.
Frank Ntilikina and Kevin Knox, who were selected by the Knicks with top-10 picks in 2017 and 2018, respectively, have yet to become standout players. RJ Barrett, last year's No. 3 overall pick, only= had a solid rookie season, but he'll need help around him to get New York back to contention. And if the Knicks are fortunate enough to land one of the top picks, it could go a long way in getting them to that point.
Another team that has new leadership this offseason is the Bulls, who hired Arturas Karnisovas to be their executive vice president of basketball operations in April and brought on Marc Eversley to be their general manager in May. However, Chicago doesn't currently have a head coach after firing Jim Boylen last week.
Like the Knicks, the Bulls could end up with a top-four pick in the draft. It's also possible they'll be picking anywhere from Nos. 7-11, so the lottery will be crucial in deciding whether they can add a top-tier prospect to their young core.
Since the start of the 2017-18 season, Chicago has gone 71-158, missing the playoffs each of the past three years. It continues to draft early, selecting Wendell Carter Jr. at No. 7 in 2018 and Coby White with the same pick last year, but it has yet to lead to results.
The Bulls have some solid young prospects on their roster, but they could really use one of the top players from this year's class (such as Georgia guard Anthony Edwards or Memphis center James Wiseman) to build around and be one of the centerpieces of their team. But they'll need to get lucky Thursday to have a chance for that to happen.