With the New Orleans Hornets winning the NBA Draft Lottery last night, people were once again screaming “CONSPIRACY!” about the NBA, but the numbers don’t support that notion.
Since the NBA changed the lottery in 1994 to give the team with the worst record a 25.0% chance of winning the lottery, the team with the best chance has won three of the 19 lotteries (1996, 2003, 2004).
That doesn’t seem like very much. But consider that we would have only expected the worst team to win 4.75 times. And all of a sudden, the lack of wins by the worst team doesn’t seem so far-fetched.
Here are the chances of winning the lottery that each lottery winner has had since 1994*.
* In 1996, the 76ers had the second-worst record, but the Vancouver Grizzlies were ineligible for the lottery as an expansion team. In 2003, two teams tied for the worst record and each had a 22.5% chance of winning the lottery. Data via NBA.com
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