Lottery history


The NBA has tried a few different ways to determine its draft order.


• Originally teams drafted in reverse order of their record, but teams were allowed to draft a player from its area, forfeiting its first first-round pick in the process.


• In 1966 the league began using a coin flip between the worst teams in each division to determine who would draft first.


• That system remained in place until after the 1984 coin flip, won by the Houston Rockets (Hakeem Olajuwon). Amid accusations that teams were tanking, the league instituted a random drawing from a hopper filled with envelopes with the names of non-playoff team names. That process would continue until all the non-playoff team names had been drawn, establishing the draft order.


• In 1987 the system was modified so that only the first three picks were determined by the lottery. After three envelopes were drawn, the rest of the first round was determined by regular season record.


• In 1990 the weighted lottery was introduced, giving the team with the worst record the best odds at the first overall pick.


• In 1993 the lottery was tweaked to give the team with the worst record a better chance of winning, up from 16.7 percent to 25 percent.


• The system uses 14 numbered ping pong balls. A four-digit combination from the 14 balls are drawn to determine the lottery winner.