On Tuesday night, for the 12th time in their history out of 22 NBA lotteries, the Wolves moved down from their pre-drawing slot.
They have never moved up; the best they've done is stay in their same slot, which they did in their 10 other trips to the lottery — most notably in 2015, when they stayed at No. 1 and picked Karl-Anthony Towns.
Within this terrible history, there is some interesting math. Some of it shows that the Wolves haven't necessarily been all that unlucky when it comes to individual outcomes — particularly with the No. 1 overall pick.
But plenty of math is ugly and paints the sort of bleak lottery picture fans have come to know and hate.
• OK, so the Wolves lost out on the Zion Williamson sweepstakes. But they only had a 3% chance of getting the No. 1 pick, so it's not that surprising.
Based on their percent chances and number of Ping-Pong ball combinations in those 22 all-time lotteries, the Wolves should have earned the No. 1 pick about 2.25 times in their history.
It's impossible, of course, for a decimal in something like that. So let's say they should have had it twice. They've only gotten it once. That's not good, but it's not egregious. If they win it again soon, they'll be pretty much on pace with normal (ha, you might say).
• Yeah, but the Wolves have NEVER moved up in 22 tries in the lottery. That seems impossible.
Well … unlikely, but not impossible. In crunching the numbers, they never had more than a 33% chance of moving up in any single year.
Add it all together, and you basically get a little over a 1% chance that they would never move up in those 22 cases — or a 99% chance that they would move up at least once.
In a fair world where their luck had been average, they would have moved up about four times.
• Yeah, but what about all those times they moved down? Well, in five of the 12 cases, it was more likely than not that they would move down. In those years, the Wolves were high in the pre-lottery position.
In 1992 and 2011, for instance, they had the best odds of getting the No. 1 pick as the team with the worst record.
But their chances at the top pick were only 16.67% (in 1992 under an old formula) and 25% (in 2011). Any other pick than No. 1 meant they were going to move down.
The higher your slot going in, the better the chance you are going to get a higher pick than another team … but also the better the chance that you're going to move down and be disappointed.
Interestingly, Tuesday's drawing was their "worst beat," so to speak, in terms of moving down. They only had a 20.2% chance of doing so, the lowest of any time they've moved down.
• Overall, fans probably overestimate the Wolves' bad luck — and NBA fans in general misunderstand lottery odds in general.
But there's no doubt that the Wolves have had a lack of lottery luck — and that it has cost them a significant amount of draft equity. Missing out on talented players (such as Shaquille O'Neal in 1992 and Kyrie Irving in 2011) stalled progress and made it more likely the Wolves would wind up back in the lottery, where their bad luck continued.
In four of those 12 drop-down lotteries, by the way, the Wolves fell by more than one spot.
Perhaps it even makes you feel a tiny bit bad for David Kahn? In the first three drafts he presided over (2009-11), the Wolves fell from their pre-lottery position.