The NBA's Draft Lottery, the annual event that determines the selection order of the NBA Draft (this year held on June 23), will happen this week. For the first time in three years, when they moved up from the eight spot to number three, my beloved Washington Wizards are participating in this event. Finally, Wizards fans have an NBA event to look forward to, although don't get your hopes up, folks. The Wizards are part of this event this week because quite simply they failed to live up to expectations and ended up going home the day after the regular season ended after missing the playoffs.
So there's a silver lining, right? At least the Wizards will have a top 14 draft selection this year, correct? Well...not necessarily. You see, the Wizards (who finished 13th worst in the league this year) traded away their first round pick this year to the Phoenix Suns, the same organization that snagged our 2014 first round selection, in exchange for Markieff Morris. The good news here? It's top nine protected. The bad news? It's extremely unlikely that the Wizards will get a top nine pick.
If there's one thing for sure, it's that the Wizards draft selection will fall in the 1, 2, 3, 13 or 14 spot. If it ends up as a 1, 2 or 3 pick, the Wizards keep the pick and the Suns will end up receiving a future first rounder. If it doesn't, the Wizards will be out of the draft entirely, having already traded this year's second round pick on 2015 Draft night as part of the deal to acquire Kelly Oubre, Jr. for 674 minutes of game action this year.
The Draft Lottery is conducted by drawing a series of four ping pong balls marked with unique numbers. There are a total of 1,001 combinations, of which 1,000 are assigned to teams that failed to qualify for this year's playoffs. The first three picks in the draft are drawn by lottery. The remaining picks are assigned in reverse order of finish. The Wizards have six combinations, meaning they have a 0.6% chance of receiving the number one overall pick and a 2.2% chance of making it into the top three (or having a draft pick at all).
The Draft Lottery has operated in this exact format for 11 years prior to this one (meaning 14 teams in the lottery) and no team finishing worse than 9th worst has ever moved into the top three (that happened twice - Chicago in 2008 and Cleveland in 2014 - both times in the number one spot). That doesn't mean it can't happen for the Wizards but the odds are certainly against them. Get out all the lucky charms you can find and have them at the ready when the show airs Tuesday. I know I will. But expect to take June 23 off.