Some of the most consequential minutes of the NBA season will occur Tuesday night in Chicago when the annual draft lottery order is determined.
The Phoenix Suns, who finished with a league-worst 21-61 record have a 25% chance of landing the top overall pick, which could net them Arizona center Deandre Ayton or European sensation Luka Doncic. Others, like the Memphis Grizzlies (19.9%), the Dallas Mavericks (13.8%) and the Atlanta Hawks (13.7%) are praying the ping pong balls bounce in their favor.
It’s even possible, albeit unlikely, that the Philadelphia 76ers, who own the Los Angeles Lakers’ pick, could wind up with another top overall selection. Due to last year’s Boston-Philadelphia swap for the No. 1 overall pick, the Celtics, currently up 1-0 in the conference finals against the Cleveland Cavaliers, even have a chance at landing the No. 2 or No. 3 pick. It’s highly likely this pick remains with the Sixers in the 10-13 range, but stranger things have happened.
Outside of the Lakers' pick, owed to Philadelphia from a 2015 trade, the other pick to monitor is that of the Detroit Pistons, who finished with the 12th-worst record. By virtue of the Blake Griffin trade, the Pistons keep their pick only if it lands in the top four. If not, which is highly likely, the pick conveys to the Clippers.
How it works
Fourteen ping pong balls numbered 1-14 are placed in a container. Each four-digit combination that is drawn has been pre-assigned to a team, and the number of chances each lottery team has is based on their regular season record. The worst team (Phoenix) has the best odds, and the best team (Denver) has the worst odds of landing the No. 1 pick.
After the first combination is drawn, the balls are replaced and the process repeated. This is done for the first three picks, and picks 4-14 are determined by inverse order of regular season record.
How to watch
When: Tuesday, May 15 at 7:30 p.m. ET in Chicago.
The 2018 NBA draft takes place June 21 at Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y.