NBA Draft Lottery 2017: 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know

The 2017 NBA Draft Lottery takes place on Tuesday, May 16 at 8:30 p.m. Eastern on ESPN. The network’s pre-game show NBA Countdown is expected to preview the lottery in the hour leading up to the unveiling of the order.

This is the final step in determining the order for the 2017 NBA Draft on June 22. The draft is expected to be one of the deeper drafts for lottery teams we have seen in recent years. Two point guards top the list of prospects. Markelle Fultz and Lonzo Ball are expected to be selected in some order with the top two picks.

While Fultz and Ball have stolen most of the headlines, there are plenty of difference makers at the top of the draft making this one of the most exciting lotteries in a long time. Several trades will come into play as the lottery is unveiled. The Celtics will swap picks with the Nets while the Lakers are hoping their pick lands in the top three to avoid losing it to the Sixers.

Learn more about the 2017 NBA Draft Lottery.

1. The Boston Celtics Have the Best Chance to Land the No. 1 Pick Thanks to Kevin Garnett & Paul Pierce

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The Celtics are still reaping the rewards from a 2013 trade with the Nets. (Getty)

Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett are gifts that keep on giving to Celtics fans. Not only did the duo help land Boston a championship, they could help the Celtics earn their next championship despite both players being retired.

It is one of the most unique situations in recent draft history as the Celtics are in the midst of a deep playoff run and have a chance to get the top pick in the 2017 NBA Draft.

Here’s how it happened. Danny Ainge decided in 2013 it was time to break up the veteran Celtics team and found a suitor in the Brooklyn Nets. In addition to Garnett and Pierce, the Celtics sent Jason Terry and D.J. White to the Nets. In return, the Celtics received Gerald Wallace, Kris Humphries, MarShon Brooks, Kris Joseph and Keith Bogans. None of these players made a major difference for the Celtics long-term. What did make an impact is the three first round draft picks Boston received from Brooklyn in 2014, 2016 and will receive in 2018.

In addition to these players and draft picks, the Nets gave the Celtics the option of exchanging first round picks in 2017. Boston will exercise this right as the Nets are slated to land a top lottery pick while the Celtics’ original selection is later in the first round. What seemed like a throw-in clause in a 2013 trade could have major ramifications for the future of both the Celtics and Nets.

Ainge masterfully orchestrated trades and draft picks over the last five years to rebuild the Celtics into one of the top teams in the NBA. A team that is about to get even better after the draft.

2. An Actual Lottery Is Conducted to Determine the Draft Order With the Number of Ping-Pong Balls Coinciding With Team Losses

According to the NBA, the Board of Governors decided at a 1984 meeting in Salt Lake City to implement the lottery to determine the draft order for non-playoff teams. The lottery was first conducted in 1985. While many have criticized the NBA for encouraging tanking, the lottery is in place to do the opposite.

The specific format has been changed several times. According to SB Nation, the league introduced weighted odds in 1990 based on team’s record after giving each team equal odds to win in the first few years. The NBA made an additional change in 1993 after the Magic won the lottery despite just missing the playoffs. The adjustment made it more difficult for team’s with a better record to win the lottery.

Teams do have better odds to land a top pick with the more losses they have. However, they are not guaranteed the top pick just because they have the most losses. The winner of the draft lottery is often a team that does not have the worst record.

The NBA explained the process in a press release prior to the 2016 lottery but the same process applies to this year’s lottery.

The actual Lottery procedure will take place in a separate room just prior to the national broadcast on ESPN. Select media members, NBA officials and representatives of the participating teams and the accounting firm of Ernst & Young will be in attendance for the drawing.

Fourteen ping-pong balls numbered 1 through 14 will be placed in a lottery machine. There are 1,001 possible combinations when four balls are drawn out of 14, without regard to their order of selection. Prior to the lottery, 1,000 of those 1,001 combinations will be assigned to the 14 participating lottery teams…

The drawing process occurs in the following manner: All 14 balls are placed in the lottery machine and they are mixed for 20 seconds; then the first ball is removed. The remaining balls are mixed in the lottery machine for another 10 seconds, and then second ball is drawn. There is a 10-second mix, and then the third ball is drawn. There is a 10-second mix, and then the fourth ball is drawn. The team that has been assigned that combination will receive the number one pick. The same process is repeated with the same ping-pong balls and lottery machine for the second pick and then again for the third pick.

3. 14 Teams Are Fighting for the No. 1 Pick

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Danny Ainge hopes the the lottery turns out like the odds project. (Getty)

Tankathon has a full breakdown of the draft odds including the percentages each team has to land each pick. The teams at the top of the odds have a floor where they can fall no lower than in the lottery. Here’s a breakdown of each team’s odds to win the lottery.

1 Boston Celtics 25%
2 Phoenix Suns 19.9%
3 LA Lakers 15.6%
4 Philadelphia Sixers 11.9%
5 Orlando Magic 8.8%
6 Minnesota Timberwolves 5.3%
7 New York Knicks 5.3%
8 Sacramento Kings 2.8%
9 Dallas Mavericks 1.7%
10 New Orleans Pelicans 1.1%
11 Charlotte Hornets 0.8%
12 Detroit Pistons 0.7%
13 Denver Nuggets 0.6%
14 Miami Heat 0.5%

4. The Lakers Will Send Their Pick to the Sixers if the Selection Falls Outside the Top 3 Picks

The Sixers have a chance to land two picks inside the top five of the lottery. The Lakers are hoping to see their logo in one of the first three envelopes. This pick has a history of its own. According to FanSided, the Lakers originally sent the pick to the Suns as part of a trade for Steve Nash.

From there, it was traded by the Suns to the Sixers as part of a three-team trade involving the Bucks, Sixers and Suns. The Sixers received the pick, with it’s intricate protections, in exchange for Philadelphia sending Michael Carter-Williams to the Bucks. The Suns received Brandon Knight in the trade.

This along with the Celtics-Nets trade mentioned earlier serves as a reminder to NBA front-office executives to be extremely careful when trading away future picks.

5. Washington’s Markelle Fultz & UCLA’s Lonzo Ball Are the Favorites to be the No. 1 Pick

There are two big reasons this NBA Draft Lottery has more attention than those in years past. Their names are Markelle Fultz and Lonzo Ball. The two point guards are widely considered to be the top two picks off the board. ESPN’s Chad Ford estimates Fultz has a 57.2 percent chance to be selected first based on the teams he has spoken with.

Fultz may be the leader in the clubhouse, but both players are in play to be the top selection. Ball is more of a traditional point guard. The popular comparison to Jason Kidd is not perfect, but it speaks to the level of passing ability Ball possesses. Ball has a better jumper than Kidd had coming out of Cal, but Kidd was likely better on the defensive end.

For teams looking for a pure scorer, Fultz is the prospect to target. While he can score in many different ways, Fultz also has potential on the defensive end and has good court vision. Kentucky’s De’Aaron Fox, Kansas’ Josh Jackson and Duke’s Jayson Tatum have emerged as the next tier of players after the two point guards.