What Is an NBA Lottery Draft Pick?

By Staff WriterLast Updated Mar 26, 2020 10:44:03 AM ET

An NBA lottery pick refers to any of the top 14 players selected in the annual June NBA Draft. The 14 teams failing to make the playoffs the previous season enter a "lottery" to determine the order of selection.

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Fourteen ping-pong balls numbered 1 to 14 are placed into a drum. A computer mathematically distributes 1,000 of the 1,001 possible order combinations among the 14 teams in the lottery, with the worst teams assigned the most combinations and thus a better chance at a top pick. Four balls are then drawn, and the team assigned that four-digit number combination gets the first pick. The balls are then replaced and the drawing is repeated a second and third time to determine who picks next. Selections 4 through 14 are then determined by the remaining teams' records from the previous season, with the team with the worst record selecting fourth, the team with the next-worst record choosing fifth, and so on..