But if there’s one thing we NBA-heads will admire about the NFL, it’s their ability to turn everything into a spectacle. Football is very much a year round sport. Sundays in the fall and winter are dedicated to NFL football, and even preseason games are given a high degree of attention. NFL free agency and the draft combine dominate headlines. The NFL Draft is a three-day, primetime extravaganza of must-watch TV, as well as the lead up to the draft and the days following the draft. The NFL leaves no stone unturned. Anything they can do to attach entertainment value to their brand, they’ll do it.
The NBA Conference Finals are underway, and will continue tonight when the Toronto Raptors travel to Cleveland to play the Cavaliers. But for 14 franchises and their loyal fan bases, all thoughts and prayers are focused on the night’s opening act: the 2016 NBA Draft Lottery.
How the Lottery works
Alright, stay with me here:
14 ping pong balls numbered 1 to 14 are placed in your run-of-the-mill lottery ball machine thingy (I think that’s what it’s called?). There are 1,000 possible 4-ball combinations for those 14 ping pong balls. There are 14 teams that did not make the playoffs, and each of those teams are given a certain amount of 4-ball combinations based on their record. The team with worst record receives 250 different combinations, whereas the team with the 14th worst record is only given 5 different combinations.
The ball machine proceeds to spit out four balls, and the team who possesses that combination is awarded the first pick of the draft. Rinse, and repeat for the second and third picks. After that, the machine is placed back into hiding for another year and the remaining lottery picks are awarded based on record.
- The order of the balls does not matter. All that matters is the combination of the balls. For example, if the Philadelphia 76ers have the 1-2-3-4 sequence, and the machine spits out 4-3-2-1, then the 76ers are awarded the first pick in the draft.
- If the 76ers are awarded the first pick and another one of their combinations are selected for the number two pick, the process is repeated until there is a new team.
- This is ALL done behind closed doors. Meaning the Draft Lottery Special is only used to reveal the results.