2011 UPDATE:

Upon review, my numbers are not accurate. I had falsely assumed the odds remain the same each year (at least starting with 1994), I inadvertently produced the wrong odds in my thread.

I had assumed that team records and tie breakers first determined the order of the draft, and then once the order was established, I assumed that the number of lottery balls was always the same for each slot. I was wrong. They are NOT the same. Turns out, if teams tie in record, FIRST they SPLIT the AVERAGE of the number of balls between both of their slots, and THEN there's a tie breaker to determine who gets the extra ball (if applicable). Looking again at draft express, the ball count for teams changes every year. Even the #1 slot may not receive the usual 250 balls. If that team ties with another team, they SPLIT the number of balls the 1st and 2nd slot usually receive.

So if you are the #1 slot in the lottery, you MAY NOT NECESSARILY HAVE 250 balls

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For anyone wondering where we stand in the 2010 lottery, I was curious so I decided to take a look at the modern history results of the lotto.

1994 was the first year for the lottery's current system that will still be in use for the 2010 selections.

I wanted to look at the history of the lottery since '94 to compare what was supposed to happen (so to speak) versus what did happen.

Let's look at the#1 overall pick.

1994 - Went to the 4th worst record

1995 - Went to the 5th worst record

1996 - Went to the 2nd worst record

1997 - Went to the 3rd worst record

1998 - Went to the 3rd worst record

1999 - Went to the 3rd worst record

2000 - Went to the 7th worst record

2001 - Went to the 3rd worst record

2002 - Went to the 5th worst record

2003 - Went to the 1st worst record

2004 - Went to the 1st worst record

2005 - Went to the 6th worst record

2006 - Went to the 5th worst record

2007 - Went to the 6th worst record

2008 - Went to the 9th worst record

2009 - Went to the 3rd worst record

In 16 years, the worst team has won the lottery twice (12.5%)

The 2nd worst team has won the lottery once (6.25%)

The 3rd worst team has won the lottery five times (31.25%)

The 4th worst team has won the lottery once (6.25%)

The 5th worst team has won the lottery three times (18.75%)

The 6th worst team has won the lottery twice (12.5%)

The 7th worst team has won the lottery once (6.25%)

The 8th worst team has never won the lottery.

The 9th worst team has won the lottery once (6.25%)

The 10th or worse team has never won the lottery.

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Now let's look at the#2 overall pick.

1994 - Went to the 1st worst record

1995 - Went to the 1st worst record

1996 - Went to the 3rd worst record

1997 - Went to the 5th worst record

1998 - Went to the 5th worst record

1999 - Went to the 1st worst record

2000 - Went to the 4th worst record

2001 - Went to the 8th worst record

2002 - Went to the 2nd worst record

2003 - Went to the 6th worst record

2004 - Went to the 4th worst record

2005 - Went to the 1st worst record

2006 - Went to the 2nd worst record

2007 - Went to the 5th worst record

2008 - Went to the 1st worst record

2009 - Went to the 6th worst record

In 16 years, the worst team has won the 2nd pick five times (31.25%)

The 2nd worst team has won the 2nd pick twice (12.5%)

The 3rd worst team has won the 2nd pick once (6.25%)

The 4th worst team has won the 2nd pick twice (12.5%)

The 5th worst team has won the 2nd pick three times (18.75%)

The 6th worst team has won the 2nd pick twice (12.5%)

The 7th worst team has never won the 2nd pick.

The 8th worst team has won the 2nd pick once (6.25%)

The 9th or worst team has never won the 2nd pick.

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Finally, let's look at the#3 overall pick.

1994 - Went to the 2nd worst record

1995 - Went to the 4th worst record

1996 - Went to the 1st worst record

1997 - Went to the 2nd worst record

1998 - Went to the 1st worst record

1999 - Went to the 13th worst record

2000 - Went to the 1st worst record

2001 - Went to the 5th worst record

2002 - Went to the 1st worst record

2003 - Went to the 2nd worst record

2004 - Went to the 2nd worst record

2005 - Went to the 5th worst record

2006 - Went to the 3rd worst record

2007 - Went to the 4th worst record

2008 - Went to the 3rd worst record

2009 - Went to the 4th worst record

In 16 years, the worst team has won the 3rd pick four times (25%)

The 2nd worst team has won the 3rd pick four times (25%)

The 3rd worst team has won the 3rd pick twice (12.5%)

The 4th worst team has won the 3rd pick three times (18.75%)

The 5th worst team has won the 3rd pick twice (12.5%)

The 6th, 7th, 8th, 9th, 10th, 11th, and 12th worst teams have never won the 3rd pick.

The 13th worst team has won the 3rd pick once (6.25%)

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Math versus History thus far:

Mathematically, the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd pick are most likely to go to the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd worst teams (obviously).

Historically, it has yet to ever go exactly that way for all three. Only once have the 3 worst teams all won a top-3 pick at the same time (in 1996, 1st got #3, 2nd got #1, and 3rd got #2).

Since 1994, (I rounded up/down when necessary, but I'm listing the actual odds of each, so they won't match up perfectly):

The overall worst team "should have won" the lottery four times (25%), but it has in fact won it only twice (12.25%).

It "should have won" the #2 pick three times (21.5%), but it has in fact won it five times (31.25%).

It "should have won" the #3 pick three times (17.8%), but it has in fact won it four times (25%).

Therefore, historically speaking, if you have the worst record, you're more likely to end up with the 2nd pick, then the 3rd pick, and then the 1st pick in that order.

The 2nd worst team "should have won" the lottery three times (19.9%), but it has in fact won it only once (6.25%).

It "should have won" the #2 pick three times (18.8%), but it has in fact won it only twice (12.5%).

It "should have won" the #3 pick three times (17.1%), but it has in fact won it four times (25%).

Therefore, historically speaking, if you have the 2nd worst record, you're more likely to end up with the 3rd pick, then the 2nd pick, then the 1st pick in that order.

The 3rd worst team "should have won" the lottery twice (15.6%), but it has in fact won it five times (31.25%).

It "should have won" the #2 pick three times (15.7%), but it has in fact won it only once (6.25%).

It "should have won" the #3 pick twice (15.6%), and it has in fact won it twice (12.5%).

Therefore, historically speaking, if you have the 3rd worst record, you're more likely to end up with the 1st pick, then the 3rd pick, then the 2nd pick in that order.

As of this post (1/7/2010), the Indiana Pacers have the 5th worst record in the NBA.

Mathematically, their odds of winning the 1st, 2nd, or 3rd pick in the lottery are 8.8%, 9.7%, and 10.7% -- 29.2% for winning something (1, 2, or 3)

Historically, they're looking at 18.75%, 18.75%, and 12.5% -- 50% for winning something (1, 2, or 3)

Food for thought.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/NBA_Draft_Lottery

http://www.draftexpress.com/nba-draft-lottery-history/

http://www.draftexpress.com/nba-draf...story/winners/