Tonight, for all of Sam Hinkie’s maneuvering and planning, the bouncing of some tiny, white balls will play a large part in the Sixers’ future. At around 8:30 p.m., this year’s draft order will be announced. With the third-worst record, the Sixers have a 15.6% shot at landing the top pick. But of bigger concern to many Sixers fans is getting the Heat’s pick at 11 and the Lakers’ pick at 6. The chances of landing either is slim, but this is what happened on my first three lottery simulations last night. I swear.
Those were just the first three. We ran ESPN’s simulation 40 TIMES, and this is what we got:
Favorable scenarios are in green, the rather frequently recurring 5-6 combo in yellow, and NUCLEAR OPTION in red. Overall, the Sixers’ average first pick was 3.25 and they got a second pick 17.5% of the time.
But that was on just one of the simulators.
I went to a different lottery simulator, Tankathon, and ran it a ten more times… because somehow this is my chosen profession. The three most interesting results are below:
The elusive #onesixeleven didn’t happen – Kyle doesn’t think it exists – but 5, 6 and 11 turned up, along with just 5 and 11, and, as you saw, 5-6.
… but here’s what you need to know by the numbers:
- 15.6% – The Sixers’ odds of getting the top overall pick
- 46.9% – The chances the Sixers’ pick is in the top three
- 17.3% – The chances the Lakers pick conveys
- 9.1% – The chances the Heat pick conveys
- 19% – The odds the Sixers end up with multiple first round picks– slightly higher than in our 40+ simulations
- 0.28% – The chance the Sixers get #OneSixEleven
And how does all of this ping pong ball stuff actually work? It’s all very confusing:
One representative from every team is ushered into a room where the lottery is conducted in private – the results are shared on live television later in the evening. Fourteen ping pong balls numbered 1-14 are placed into a machine for 20 seconds. Then, the first ball is drawn. Ten seconds later, a second is drawn. Another 10 seconds, and a third ball is removed from the machine. And finally, after 10 more seconds, a fourth ball is drawn.
The order in which the four numbers are drawn is not important – meaning a drawing of 1, 2, 3, and 4 is the same as a drawing of 4, 3, 2, and 1 for the purpose of this exercise. A league official then refers to a massive board showing 1,000 combinations of four digits with a team name assigned to each (this is where the number of combinations each team has factors into the odds). Whichever team’s combination is drawn first is awarded the top pick.
The four balls are then returned to the machine and the process is repeated to determine the winners of the second and third picks. In the event that a combination is drawn for picks #2 or #3 that belongs to a team that has already been awarded a pick via the lottery, the drawing is repeated until a unique winner is determined.
After the top-three selections have been determined, the remaining 11 lottery picks (as well as the 16 non-lottery picks) are sequenced based upon regular season record, from worst to best.
Of the 1,000 possible combinations, the Sixers have 156. But really they just need one of those picked. And then for one (or more) of the teams from 11-14 to get one so they can get the Heat’s pick and for a team to jump into the top three from behind the Lakers so they can get their pick, too. Simple.