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NBA Draft Lottery Preview, TV Information And More: What To Know Before Wednesday Night

The 2012 NBA Draft lottery is tonight, and once again, the Washington Wizards will be prominently involved. This is the fourth straight year the Wizards have been in the lottery and the 14th time since the new weighed system began in 1994. By now, many of you are familiar with how this thing works. For everyone else, here's a brief refresher.

  • Lottery time: 8 p.m.
  • Likely lottery unveiling time: somewhere around 8:20.
  • Channel: ESPN
  • Wizards' odds for the top pick: Just under 20 percent
  • Wizards' representative: Zach Leonsis, son of Ted.


It's terrible, pretty much. The Wizards have only gotten a pick at or higher than their initial draft position twice in the last 14 years. Once was when they earned the No. 1 pick with the third-worst record in 2001, selecting Kwame Brown. The other was in 2010, when they rose from the fifth-worst record to win the John Wall sweepstakes. The only way the Wizards would pick at or higher than their draft position is if they got the first or second pick.


This is also not great. The last time a team with the second-most ping-pong balls won the lottery was in 1996, when the Philadelphia 76ers selected Allen Iverson. The only other time it happened was in 1994, when the Bucks picked Glenn Robinson. In 2009, the Clippers and Wizards tied for the second-worst record, but the Wizards won the coin flip to get the second-most ping-pong balls. The Clippers then ended up winning the lottery.

Since 1994, there have been 18 draft lotteries. Here's which record won the most.

  • Third-worst: Five times (1997, 1998, 1999, 2001, 2009).
  • Fifth-worst: Four times (1995, 2002, 2006, 2010).
  • Worst: Twice (2003, 2004).
  • Second-worst: Twice (1994, 1996).
  • Sixth-worst: Twice (2005, 2007)
  • Seventh-worst: Once (2000).
  • Eighth-worst: Once (2011, the Cavaliers won with the Clippers' pick).
  • Ninth-worst: Once (2008).


The actual drawing for the lottery happens behind closed doors, with select media members invited so long as they do not reveal the results. It hasn't happened in the open for quite some time, fueling speculation that it is fixed.

Everyone likes a good conspiracy theory, of course, but given how things actually work with the selection process, it seems hard to take this view seriously. There are a total of 14 balls placed in a jar, each numbered 1-14. Four of those balls are drawn for the first pick, then four for the second pick and finally four for the third pick. Each team has a certain number of four-number combinations based on their record. The Wizards, for example, have 199 combinations out of a possible 1,001, giving them just under a 20-percent chance to secure the top pick.

Manipulating an outcome in this case seems very difficult, unless everyone in the room can agree on a secret. It probably would be a bit better if they did it all out in the open, but then it'd remove all suspense. It's also worth noting that, previously, they put the team logos in folders and drew them from a jar, and all that did was convince people that the league froze the Knicks' envelope in 1985 to allow them to draft Patrick Ewing.


Blazers Edge has a really good breakdown of this, but it's from their team's perspective. Here's what to know from the Wizards' perspective:

First, take a quick look at the current order if there were literally no changes:

  1. Charlotte Bobcats
  2. Washington Wizards
  3. Cleveland Cavaliers
  4. New Orleans Hornets
  5. Sacramento Kings
  6. New Jersey/Brooklyn Nets (goes to Blazers if not in Top 3)
  7. Golden State Warriors (goes to Jazz if not in Top 7)
  8. Toronto Raptors
  9. Detroit Pistons
  10. Minnesota Timberwolves (goes to Hornets)
  11. Portland Trail Blazers
  12. Milwaukee Bucks
  13. Phoenix Suns
  14. Houston Rockets

The picks are revealed in reverse order, but they only reveal the first 11 at first. Once the top three are selected, the other 11 go in reverse order of worst record. That means that Wizards fans should study that chart and hope that no team below them moves up. If a team is selected to pick below their projected record, it means that a team below them has moved up into the top three.

Basically, here's the lowdown.

  • If the lottery plays out exactly as anticipated, the Wizards will be guaranteed a top-three pick.
  • If only one team has fallen below their projected record, it means the Wizards only need to sweat out the No. 4 pick before knowing they get a top-three pick.
  • If two teams have, then the Wizards need to sweat out No. 5 and No. 4.
  • If three teams have, the Wizards are guaranteed the No. 5 pick.

If the Wizards jump into the top three, then Zach Leonsis will take the stage with the other two representatives after a commercial break and they'll reveal the top three picks in reverse order.


Just for fun, here's what SB Nation's bloggers were able to dig up.

  • Charlotte: GM Rich Cho.
  • Cleveland: Nick Gilbert, obviously.
  • New Orleans: Not sure, but hopefully not Mr. Lottery Ball, because that's awful.
  • Sacramento: Co-owner Adrienne Maloof, no joke.
  • Brooklyn/New Jersey: Irina Pavlova, president of Mikhail Prokhorov's company.
  • Golden State: General manager Bob Myers
  • Toronto: Dwane Casey
  • Detroit: Point guard Brandon Knight.
  • Portland: Shooting guard Wesley Matthews.
  • Milwaukee: John Hammond
  • Phoenix: VP of Player Programs and former starting center Mark West.
  • Houston: Small forward Chandler Parsons.

You can take those guys, Zach.

We'll have our lottery thread up starting at 6 p.m. Until then, let us know some of your good-luck charms.