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NBA draft lottery 101

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Everything you need to know about tonight’s action.

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2017 NBA Draft Lottery Photo by David Dow/NBAE via Getty Images

Other than your scheduled monthly beer pong date with your college buddies, no event with ping pong balls is as exciting and meaningful as the NBA draft lottery, which takes place tonight.

It’s an extra exciting event for the Golden State Warriors, because it’s going to determine not just where they pick, but how many picks they have. The Warriors received a 2021 first round pick from the Minnesota Timberwolves in the Andrew Wiggins trade, but that pick is top-three protected, which means if it lands in the top three of the draft the Wolves keep it. If that happens, the Warriors will instead get Minnesota’s 2022 first-round pick.

How does the draft lottery work?

The 14 teams that missed the playoffs are assigned odds based on their record. The worse your record, the better your chance of landing a top pick.

To keep things exciting, every team in the lottery has a chance at landing a top-four pick — remember the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2003? But the better your record, the more likely you are to end up in the spot that reflects your performance.

For instance, the Warriors finished the season with the best record of the 14 lottery teams. And while they have a slim chance at one of the top-four picks, they don’t have any chance at pick No. 5 through No. 13. It’s top four, or No. 14.

Here are how the odds shake out:

Warriors odds for their own pick

Pick Odds
Pick Odds
1 0.5%
2 0.6%
3 0.6%
4 0.7%
5 0%
6 0%
7 0%
8 0%
9 0%
10 0%
11 0%
12 0%
13 0%
14 97.6%

Things change with the Wolves pick. Minnesota finished with the sixth-worst record in the NBA, and their pick could land in the top four, or from pick No. 6 to No. 10.

But the good news for Golden State is that the pick has a 72.4% chance of ending up with the Dubs.

Here’s the full pick breakdown.

Warriors odds for Minnesota’s pick

Pick Odds
Pick Odds
1 (Minny keeps) 9%
2 (Minny keeps) 9.2%
3 (Minny keeps) 9.4%
4 9.6%
5 0%
6 8.6%
7 29.7%
8 20.6%
9 3.8%
10 0.2%
11 0%
12 0%
13 0%
14 0%

The most likely outcome is that the Dubs emerge with picks No. 7 and 14. But the possible outcomes range from a best case scenario of picks No. 1 and 4, or a worst case scenario of just pick No. 14.

How to watch

Date: Tuesday, June 22, 2021
When: 5:30 p.m. PT
TV: ESPN (available on fuboTV)

The Warriors will be represented (virtually) by outgoing president and COO Rick Welts. Welts has done so much for the Warriors organization over the years, and maybe he’s got one last gift in him.