The first significant event of the Celtics’ offseason comes tonight with the NBA Draft Lottery. To help you prepare for what could be a franchise-changing moment in the team’s history, I’ve created a lottery primer with everything you need to know about tonight’s festivities.
Q: How does the lottery work?
A: 14 ping-pong balls, numbered 1-14 are placed in a selection bin. The NBA will select four of these ping-pong balls for each section of the drawing. There are 1,000 possible four-digit combinations of numbers in play for the 14 numbers (the order the balls are selected in doesn’t matter). All of these possible combinations have been distributed among the 14 NBA lottery teams based on their record. An independent official picks four balls, and the team with that assigned combination gets the first pick. Then, the balls are returned and the process is repeated for the second pick, and then again for the third pick. The drawing ends at that point.
Q: Why does the drawing end after the first three teams are selected?
A: After the top-3 picks are determined, the rest of the lottery draft order is compiled via the records of the remaining teams in the lottery, beginning with the squad with the worst remaining record receiving the fourth pick.
Q: How many four-digit combinations to the Celtics have assigned to them?
A: 103 out of a possible 1,000 combinations. That means the Celtics have a 10.3 percent chance of earning the top pick and a 33.4 percent chance of jumping into the top 3.
Q: What happens if the same team has one of the four-digit lottery combinations assigned to them selected twice during the lottery process?
A: In this scenario, the second time the combination is selected for the same team, it is ignored and the balls are placed back in the bin. Then, a new combination is drawn until a different team is selected. Additionally, since there are 1,001 possible combinations for the 14 balls, one combination is not assigned to any team to make the math work and create a tidy 1,000 combinations.
Q: Do we know which four-digit combinations have been assigned to the Celtics?
A: Yep, Boston’s assistant general manager Mike Zarren released them on Celtics.com. You can check them out there.
Q: Will be see the lottery drawing live on TV?
A: No. The process will take place about an hour before the show airs tonight. All 14 NBA lottery teams will have a representative in a room while an independent official conducts the selections. Team president Rich Gotham will witness this part of the process for the Celtics.
Q: So if it doesn’t take place, won’t there be spoilers on Twitter or elsewhere?
A: Nope. All observers of the selection process are locked in a room until the order is announced on ESPN. All phones and communication devices are also taken away from them, so this is one event where the viewing public finds out at the same time as everyone else.
Q: What are the possible picks the Celtics could end up with after this process unfolds?
A: The Celtics will end up with one of the following selections: First, second, third, fifth, sixth, seventh or eighth.
Q: Why can’t the Celtics get the fourth pick? They finished with the fourth-worst overall record right?
A: Right, but they lost the tiebreaker for the fourth lottery spot with the Utah Jazz in a random drawing after the season ended, so for lottery purposes, they are technically in the fifth position. They will be able to jump into a top-3 spot if they are selected in the lottery, if not they fall back to their original position (5th) and be ordered from there. If other teams with better records “jump” them in the lottery selection process, they could fall as low as eighth.
Q: What are the Celtics odds of landing each pick?
A: Here’s the complete breakdown
First: 10.3 percent
Second: 11.1 percent
Third: 12 percent
Fourth: 0 percent
Fifth: 23.7 percent
Sixth: 34.2 percent
Seventh: 8.2 percent
Eighth: 0.3 percent
Q: Do the Celtics have any other picks in this year’s NBA Draft?
A: Yes, they have the 17th overall selection from the Brooklyn Nets, via the Paul Pierce/Kevin Garnett trade.
Q: When and where can I watch the lottery?
A: The lottery will start at 8 p.m. ET and will be televised on ESPN before Game 2 of the Heat-Pacers series. The program will only last a half hour, so the Celtics will know by 8:30 p.m. where they will pick in the 2014 NBA Draft.
Q: Whom are the Celtics sending to represent the team at the lottery?
A: Celtics co-owner Steve Pagiluca will represent the team at the podium during the program. Team president Rich Gotham will witness the lottery drawing live in the room where the ping-pong balls are drawn.
Q: Anything else I need to know?
A: Probably, but that’s all you are getting here. Happy Lottery Day!