What Is an NBA Lottery Draft Pick?

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.

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..