Here are the Celtics’ odds of landing a top-3 pick in the 2018 NBA Draft

Celtics NBA Draft
NBA Deputy Commissioner Mark Tatum, front left, shakes hands with Boston Celtics co-owner Wyc Grousbeck, right, after the Celtics won the first pick at the NBA lottery in 2017. –AP Photo/Frank Franklin II

For the third straight year, the Celtics have a chance to land in the top three of the NBA Draft lottery, which unfolds Tuesday night.

After trading last year’s No. 1 overall pick to the 76ers, Boston will receive the Lakers’ first-round pick if it lands at No. 2 or No. 3. The chances of that happening are less than 3 percent.

Here is a closer look at this year’s odds and how it relates to the Celtics, and how the lottery in conducted.

This year’s lottery

While the Suns have the best chance at the No. 1 pick, the Celtics, who landed the top pick last year thanks to the Nets, have a chance to pick in the top three for the third consecutive draft. The Lakers, who would send the pick to Boston through Philadelphia, have a 1.30 percent chance at the No. 2 pick and a 1.57 percent chance at the No. 3 pick.


Based on record alone, the Lakers sit in the 10th slot with a 86.98 percent chance of ultimately picking there.

Here is a look at this year’s lottery odds:

2018 NBA Draft lottery probabilities
Team Record Chances 1st Pick 2nd Pick 3rd Pick
Phoenix 21-61 250 25.00% 21.48% 17.73%
Memphis 22-60 199 19.90% 18.79% 17.07%
Dallas 24-58 138 13.80% 14.25% 14.54%
Atlanta 24-58 137 13.70% 14.16% 14.48%
Orlando 25-57 88 8.80% 9.64% 10.65%
Chicago 27-55 53 5.30% 6.02% 6.96%
Sacramento 27-55 53 5.30% 6.02% 6.96%
Brooklyn (to Cleveland via Boston) 28-54 28 2.80% 3.26% 3.88%
New York 29-53 17 1.70% 2.00% 2.40%
LA Lakers (to Boston or to Philadelphia)* 35-47 11 1.10% 1.30% 1.57%
Charlotte 36-46 8 0.80% 0.95% 1.15%
Detroit** 39-43 7 0.70% 0.83% 1.01%
LA Clippers 42-40 6 0.60% 0.71% 0.87%
Denver 46-36 5 0.50% 0.59% 0.72%
SOURCE: NBA; *This pick will be conveyed to BOS via PHI via PHO or to PHI via PHO; **This pick may be conveyed to LAC

Here is the full chart of odds for picks 1-14.

And here is the remaining draft order:

2018 NBA Draft order
Pick/Team 2017-18 record Winning %
15. Washington 43-39 .524
16. Miami (to Phoenix) 44-38 .537
17. Milwaukee 44-38 .537
18. San Antonio 47-35 .573
19. Minnesota (to Atlanta) 47-35 .573
20. Oklahoma City (to Minnesota via Utah) 48-34 .585
21. Utah 48-34 .585
22. New Orleans (to Chicago) 48-34 .585
23. Indiana 48-34 .585
24. Portland 49-33 .598
25. Cleveland (to LA Lakers) 50-32 .610
26. Philadelphia 52-30 .634
27. Boston 55-27 .671
28. Golden State 58-24 .707
29. Toronto (to Brooklyn) 59-23 .720
30. Houston (to Atlanta via LA Clippers) 65-17 .793

If the Lakers’ pick does not land in the No. 2 or No. 3 spot, the Celtics’ will receive a first-round pick from the 76ers in 2019. The 76ers have Sacramento’s 2019 first-round pick in addition to their own. Boston would get the higher of the two picks, unless it is first overall, which means they would get the other pick.

Boston holds the No. 27 overall pick in this year’s draft.

The Celtics will be represented at the lottery, just in case. Assistant general manager Mike Zarren will be present in the drawing room, and team president Rich Gotham will be in the main stage area, although the Lakers’ seat is expected to be initially occupied by a 76ers representative, as there is a 97.1 percent chance that they will keep the pick.

How the lottery is conducted

Of the 30 teams in the league, 14 qualify for the lottery while the other 16 qualify for the playoffs. Fourteen Ping-Pong balls are tossed into the lottery machine, numbered 1-14. One thousand four-number combinations are doled out to the 14 teams. The team with the worst record has the most combinations (250) and highest chance of securing the top pick. The team with the second-worst record has the second-most combinations (199) and the second-highest chance of securing the top pick — and so on down through the 14th slot.


When teams have the same record, the average of the teams’ odds are used. If the average includes a decimal, a coin flip determines which team rounds up its odds. If none of the teams land in the top three, that coin flip determines the order in which they pick.

The balls are mixed in the machine for 20 seconds before the first number is selected. Ten seconds elapse between each number selection. Once four numbers are drawn, the No. 1 pick is assigned to the team that owns that number combination. Rinse and repeat for Picks 2 and 3.

A team cannot win more than one pick in the top three. If a team’s number combination is drawn more than once, the process repeats until a different team wins.

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Once the first three picks are awarded, Picks 4 through 14 are assigned based on record — the team with the worst record getting the fourth pick and so on.


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