The NBA draft lottery is a system used to choose new players for teams before each new basketball season in the United States. It is weighted so that underperforming teams from the previous year have a better chance of receiving high draft picks. The draft lottery has undergone several changes to make it better and fairer, and today it takes place in May of each year. Teams have been accused of manipulating their draft status, but the proceedings are generally accepted amicably.
The National Basketball Association lottery, or NBA, is a method of choosing new players for teams before each new basketball season in the United States. The system is weighted so that teams that underperformed in the previous year are more likely to receive high draft picks, giving them a good chance of getting a top new or newly available player. The draft lottery was first established in 1985 and has undergone several changes to make it better and fairer.
Originally, the draft was a simple drawing held for the top seven picks of the NBA draft. The teams participating in the lottery had the previous season’s worst seven records. This was quickly changed, as the difference between the worst record and seventh worst record could be considerable, and the draft began using a weighted system that gave bottom teams the best chance of a top draft pick. In 7, the NBA draft lottery began picking only the top three draft picks, with the remaining picks in ascending order of record. That way, the team with the lowest season record could pick no less than fourth in the draft.
There are 14 pick positions in the NBA draft lottery; one for each of the 14 teams that did not make the previous season’s playoffs. Some teams have been accused of manipulating their draft status once it becomes apparent they won’t make the playoffs. In order to receive better odds of a top draft pick, teams can bench their best players and have even been accused of conspiring to lose games. These tactics can alienate many fans, who feel cheated that their home team is not making an effort on purpose.
Today, the NBA draft lottery takes place in May of each year under strict supervision. 14 balls numbered 1 to 14 are placed into a standard lotto ball machine and swirled, eventually spitting out four balls. Lottery teams each have an assigned list of melds; teams with lower records have more melds assigned to them. Whichever team has the combination that comes out is the winner and gets the first pick in the draft. The second and third picks are drafted equally, and the team’s records then determine remaining draft berths.
Draft picks become more complicated as they can be factored into trade deals between teams. A team desperate for a player from another franchise will sometimes offer future draft picks to the other team. This can lead to a high-performing team getting an early draft pick, further strengthening their bench.
The NBA draft lottery is a complicated way to deal with a complex system. Despite the complaints of many fans that their team has been robbed of a good pick via nefarious officials, the proceedings are generally quite civil and the results accepted amicably. Certainly a step up from a coin toss, the NBA draft lottery attempts to instill some fairness into the league, to allow poor teams to improve and keep games exciting and close in scoring.