Here at Lakers Outsiders, we’ve received countless questions pertaining to the NBA Draft, due to the Lakers missing the playoffs for the second consecutive season. This FAQ should be able to answer your questions related to the NBA Draft Lottery, NBA Draft and the team’s draft pick situations. If you have a question that is not on this list, please contact us on Twitter (@LakersOutsiders), through our email (firstname.lastname@example.org) or simply leave a comment below and we’ll be sure to add it.
Q: How is the NBA Draft order determined?
The NBA uses a weighted lottery system to determine the order of the top three picks in the draft. They use 14 ping pong balls, numbered 1-14. Four balls are drawn randomly to determine a number combination (Example: 1-2-3-4). There are 1,001 total possible combinations, although one is disregarded to make it an even 1,000. The number of combinations are distributed amongst the 14 non-playoff teams, with the team that finished with the worst regular season record receiving the most possible combinations. The number of combinations then decreases down the line, meaning the franchise with the best season record of these 14 teams will possess the least amount. This process determines the order of the top three picks, and the rest of the draft is determined solely by regular season record in reverse order (Worse record means higher draft selection).
Q: What happens if two teams finished with the same regular season record?
For playoff teams that finished with the same record, a coin flip determines who gets the better draft selection number. For lottery teams, the odds for both positions are combined, then split evenly between the two teams if the total number of combinations is an even number. If it’s an odd number, a coin flip determines which team gets one more combination than the other. This method applies to three-way ties, four-way ties, and so on.
Q: What are the odds of landing the number one overall pick for each pre-lottery position?
1st: 25 percent
2nd: 19.9 percent
3rd: 15.6 percent
4th: 11.9 percent
5th: 8.8 percent
6th: 6.3 percent
7th: 4.3 percent
8th: 2.8 percent
9th: 1.7 percent
10th: 1.1 percent
11th: 0.8 percent
12th: 0.7 percent
13th: 0.6 percent
14th: 0.5 percent
Q: What’s the furthest a team can fall in the lottery?
Since the lottery determines just the top three picks, the farthest any non-playoff team can fall is three positions. Whichever team enters the lottery 12th can only fall a maximum of two spots, while 13th can fall one spot and 14th will either stay put or jump all the way into the top-three.
Q: What are the dates of the NBA Draft Lottery, NBA Draft and start of free agency?
The NBA Draft lottery will be held on May 19, while the NBA Draft will take place on June 25. Both will be televised on ESPN. Teams can begin meeting with free agents at 12:01 AM Eastern Standard Time on July 1, but players can’t officially sign a contract until July 8.
Q: Which draft pick(s) could the Lakers have in the first round?
The Lakers’ first round pick this season is top-five protected as a result of the Steve Nash trade in 2012. This means if the pick is anywhere in the top-five, the Lakers will retain it. If it ends up anywhere outside of the top-five, the rights to the pick will belong to the Philadelphia 76ers, who acquired it before this season’s trade deadline from the Phoenix Suns.
Los Angeles will have the 27th pick in this year’s draft via the Houston Rockets. The rights to the pick were acquired before the season in the Jeremy Lin trade.
Q: Which draft pick(s) could the Lakers have in the second round?
The Lakers possess their own second round draft choice this year, which gives them the 34th overall pick.
Q: What are the odds of the Lakers’ first round pick ending up in the top-five?
Heading into the lottery in the fourth position means the Lakers will have an 82.8 percent chance to retain their pick. In order to lose their pick, at least two teams behind them would need to jump into the top-three. The current lottery format has been in place since 1994, and the team entering the event fourth has fallen outside the top-five just three times.
Q: What are the future protections on this year’s top-five protected first round pick if the Lakers keep/lose it?
If the Lakers are fortunate enough to retain their first round pick this year, it then becomes just top-three protected in 2016 and 2017 (If they manage to retain the rights to each first-rounder in 2015 and 2016). If they get really lucky and keep the top-five protected pick this year and the top-three protected pick in both 2016 and 2017, their first round pick in 2018 will automatically go to the 76ers. In this scenario, the Lakers would convey their 2017 and 2018 second round picks to Orlando (Howard trade). But if a first round pick is conveyed from Los Angeles to Philadelphia before 2017, the former will owe Orlando a first round pick (Top-five protected in 2017 and 2018, unprotected in 2019).
Now, if the draft pick ends up sixth or lower this year and is conveyed to Philadelphia, then the Lakers will have full rights to their own first round pick in 2016.
Q: Can the Lakers trade their first round pick this year?
If it is established that the Lakers will retain the rights to the pick, then they would be eligible to include it in a trade.
Q: Who should the Lakers draft if they retain their top-five protected first round pick?
Ryan Kelapire broke down how some of the top prospects fit with the Lakers, here.