NBA Draft Lottery Odds – Learn How Does NBA Draft Work

nba draft lottery

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Last Updated: July 22, 2022


Before we take a look at how does NBA draft work, let’s briefly examine the history of the most successful professional basketball league in the world.

The National Basketball League was born in New York in 1946. The NBA was established by Walter Brown who, back in the day, owned the Boston Garden team of the NHL (National Hockey League).

Walter Brown was a big name in the world of professional ice hockey, but he was also very much interested in other sports, including basketball.

One day, he realized that ice hockey arenas that hosted the biggest ice hockey tournaments and events could be used for basketball competitions most days.

This is when he formed the Basketball Association of America. Three years later, the BBA changed its name to the National Basketball League and this is the name that stuck around until 1976 when the NBA was officially formed.

The NBA was established following the merger of the Basketball Association of America and the National Basketball League.

The inaugural season of the NBA was played between the 29th of October 1949 and the 19th of March 1050.

It included only seventeen teams. The top draft pick for that season was Howie Shannon who was drafted by Providence Steamrollers.

Over the years, the NBA’s format expanded to include thirty teams, one from Canada and twenty-nine from the United States.

In the following sections, we discuss how does NBA draft work and what is NBA draft in general.

We also discuss NBA lottery odds and everything else about one of the most exciting events for every aspiring basketball player.

What is the NBA Draft and How It Works?

The NBA draft is an exciting event that takes place every year and the event’s origin goes all the way back to 1947 when the very first NBA draft took place.

So, the very first NBA draft took place on the 1st of July in 1947 and the very first NBA draft pick was amazing Clifton McNeely.

Before being drafted to NBA, Clifton McNeely played college basketball for Texas Wesleyan and Dallas Baptist teams. He joined the NBA after being drafted by Pittsburgh Ironmen.

Since 1947, the NBA draft event has been held every year.

The main question is how does NBA draft work?

Essentially, during every NBA draft event, teams that currently compete in the National Basketball Association draft eligible players who want to join the league.

The vast majority of NBA drafted players are actually college players even though players residing outside of the United States can be drafted into the NBA.

what is nba draft

Manute Bol was one of the very first international players to be drafted into NBA. He was picked by the San Diego Clippers in the fifth round of the 1983 NBA Draft event.

According to the current NBA lottery format, college players who have already finished four years of college are automatically eligible for the NBA draft lottery selection.

College players who have not completed their four years of college and want to join the league must give up their college eligibility and declare their NBA eligibility to be able to join the NBA draft lottery race.

When discussing players who are automatically eligible for the NBA lottery selection, these are international players who are at least twenty-two years old.

Foreign players who are younger than twenty-two must declare their eligibility similarly to college players who have not finished their four years of studies.

If you are still wondering what is NBA draft, the most important thing to remember is that yearly NBA draft events are held to bring new talent to the most successful basketball league in the world.

When Are NBA Draft Events Held?

As previously mentioned, NBA draft events are held every single year before the regular NBA season kicks off, and traditionally, the regular NBA season usually starts sometime in October and lasts until April.

Over the summer, teams competing in the NBA take some rest before they return to training usually in late September.

Teams competing in the league have training camps all over the United States at which coaching staff evaluate rookies, scout their team’s weaknesses and strengths, and of course, do everything else to prepare for the start of the season.

how does nba draft work

Before the regular season starts, teams also compete at many exhibition matches to once again evaluate their weaknesses and strengths and finally determine their roster of twelve players who will compete in the regular season.

Around the same time, the league prepares for the NBA draft lottery and everything else surrounding one NBA draft event.

Most NBA draft events take place in the summer during the league’s offseason, usually in late June or early July.

Since 1989, the NBA draft process has featured two different rounds. When compared to other major leagues in the United States and their drafting format which usually features seven drafting rounds, the NBA draft is way shorter.

In each NBA draft round, sixty players can be selected. Before 2006, high school basketball players could also be drafted into NBA.

The NBA draft lottery rules changed in 2006, so high school players are not eligible for the draft until one year after their graduation.

NBA Drafting Process

When discussing what is NBA draft and the overall NBA draft selection process, we should mention that most players must be at least nineteen years old to be considered for the NBA draft selection.

In the history of the NBA, there had been just forty-four exceptions to this rule when high school players were drafted into the league. However, this is not possible today with different rules.

Back in the early days of the NBA league, the overall draft selection process was way longer with some events consisting of twenty rounds.

More specifically, the 1968 and 1960 NBA draft events featured twenty-one rounds.

In the next several years, the format was stabilized to include ten rounds, while in 1985 the draft selection process was shortened to include seven rounds.

All NBA draft events which took place from 1989 onward include two rounds. The league’s official changed the NBA draft rules in 2016 to allow players to enter NBA draft selection many times, while at the same time retaining their NCAA eligibility.

Everyone who wants to enter the upcoming NBA draft must send a letter to the league’s officials in which they state their aspiration and desire to be a part of the upcoming selection process.

Under the current NBA rules, all letters must be submitted on time, way before the regular season is scheduled to kick off, and before the actual NBA draft selection is expected to take place.

Most players know ahead of time whether they are getting drafted into NBA or not since teams are usually very transparent about their future plans.

At the same time, many surprises can happen and this is what makes every NBA draft event very interesting, not only for basketball players aspiring to join the league but also for outsiders, fans of basketball.

Now that we covered NBA draft eligibility rules and the selection process, let’s briefly examine the NBA combine draft.

NBA Combine Draft in a Nutshell

The NBA combine draft is like the best basketball job fair. Young, talented basketball players head to a training center in hopes of demonstrating their talent and skills in front of scouts.

All participating players also undertake many different tests that test their physicality, agility, skills, and endurance, while many interviews also take place.

Generally, the NBA combine draft runs for a week or so usually in May. The main goal for every participating aspiring place is to get drafted into the league, and some are always closer to reaching their dreams than the others based on their past performance.

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Every NBA combine draft event includes at least fifty players and all players are measured for weight, hand width, hand length, wingspan, standing reach, and body fat percentage.

Players are also tested on the standing vertical, vertical leap, bench press, lane agility, shuttle run, and three-quarter sprint.

In addition, they compete in short matches so that their potential employees can examine their shooting skills.

Needless to say, the NBA combine draft pick is one of the most important dates on players’ calendars and the same is true for the actual NBA draft lottery event which takes place before the NBA combine draft.

What Is the NBA Draft Lottery?

This leads to the NBA draft lottery and NBA lottery odds which will be discussed in this section. The NBA draft process is actually a series of different events which starts with the NBA lottery after which the NBA draft combine takes place.

The whole selection process culminates during the actual draft night when the teams finally reveal their picks for the upcoming regular season.

The NBA lottery takes place one day before the NBA draft event. The NBA lottery is there to determine the order in which teams will announce their selections during the draft night.

Picks between one and fourteen are actually the teams that failed to qualify for the previous season’s playoffs.

In the NBA draft lottery, teams are ordered as the picks between one and fourteen, with each being assigned one number.

Also, one thousand four-digit number combos are also assigned to the fourteen teams.

Until 2018 when the rules changed, the worst performing team from the previous regular seasons received two hundred and fifty combinations with the second-worst receiving one hundred and ninety-nine.

The third-worst team received one hundred and fifty-six combinations, and so on.

Since 2019 when the NBA officials modified the rules, the three worst performing teams from the previous season get one hundred and forty combinations each.

The fourth worst-performing teams get one hundred and twenty-two combinations, and so on. Essentially, the three worst-performing teams have the same chance of getting the top pick.

Once the teams have announced their first four picks, the remaining teams get re-ordered in reverse and the ordering process depends on their performance and record from the previous season.

The NBA lottery unfolds just like a regular lottery. There is a lottery machine with balls randomly positioned.

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Balls placed in the machine are drawn out to reveal the team that gets the number one overall pick. This specific method is used so that every team has the same chance of getting the number one pick.

Essentially, the NBA team that has the worst record from the previous season enjoys the best NBA lottery odds for getting the first pick.

The NBA draft lottery was introduced in 1985. Since the worst-performing team has the best odds to get the first pick, rumors started circulating that some teams were losing on purpose to have better chances of getting the top pick.

In 2019, the rules changed so that the lottery randomly draws the first four picks.

The lottery is usually held in the third or fourth week of May and numerous different precautions are taken by the organizers so that the NBA lottery selection is not tampered with in any way.

The lottery selection always takes place in a secluded room and the whole process is usually broadcasted by ESPN.

The drawing is also attended by NBA officials and executives, all participating teams, and ESPN media members.

Until the top overall pick is revealed, attendees are not allowed to use their smartphones or mobile devices.

Following the competition of the NBA lottery selection, the NBA combine draft takes place and the overall process is explained in the previous section.

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