A quick explanation of how this lottery order works since it’s a little different this year:
- The eight teams who missed the Bubble — the Warriors, Cavaliers, Timberwolves, Hawks. Pistons, Knicks, Bulls and Hornets — are seeded in reverse order of their record when the season was initially was suspended on March 12.
- The next six lottery teams participated in the Bubble but missed the playoffs, and they are also seeded in reverse order of their record on March 12, not after the Bubble. That explains why the Suns land ahead of the Spurs in the lottery seeding despite finishing with a better record in the final standings after the eight regular season Bubble games. The same also explains the Kings and Pelicans getting worse Lottery odds than the Spurs despite finishing the Bubble with a worse record.
So the Spurs land at the 11th seed — as expected since it’s where they were seeded on March 12 and missed the postseason, despite a valiant effort — and as a result they have a 2% chance of winning the lottery and snagging the top pick, followed by 2.2%, 2.4% and 2.8% for the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th picks, respectively. Overall, that gives the Spurs just under a 10% chance of getting a top 4 pick. Improbable, but not bad. After that, their next highest option and most probable pick is at 11th, with a 77.6% chance, followed by 12.6% at 12th, 0.4% at 13th, and an even more negligible chance at 14th.
Since the Spurs have not been to the Lottery since 1997 — when they beat the odds to win and drafted Tim Duncan — and there have been some major rule changes dating back to 2017, here’s an explainer on how the NBA Draft Lottery works if you wish gain a deeper understanding.
Although the Spurs’ odds of pulling off another heist like 1997 are low, regardless of anything they will be picking higher than they have since then (unless they trade back or even trade their pick away all together, but the odds of that happening are pretty slim unless someone comes along with an offer they can’t refuse, which is hard to imagine at this point). They will also pick 41st in the second round of the draft.
The Lottery will be held on Thursday, August 20 at 7:30 PM CT and will be televised on ESPN. Select media members, NBA officials, and representatives of the participating teams will be in attendance but placed in a separate room from the drawings.