Skip to Content

What NBA teams are in draft lottery?

The NBA draft lottery is an annual event that determines the drafting order for the teams that did not make the playoffs in the previous season. The lottery system was put in place in 1985 to discourage teams from intentionally losing games in order to get better picks. 14 teams qualify for the draft lottery each year.

The teams with the worst regular season records have the best odds to win the lottery. The odds become lower and lower for teams with better records. After the lottery selects the first three picks of the draft, the rest of the teams are slotted in reverse order of their win-loss record.

For the upcoming 2023 NBA draft, the following 14 teams qualified for the draft lottery:

  • Houston Rockets
  • Detroit Pistons
  • Orlando Magic
  • Oklahoma City Thunder
  • Indiana Pacers
  • Portland Trail Blazers
  • Sacramento Kings
  • San Antonio Spurs
  • Washington Wizards
  • New York Knicks
  • Los Angeles Lakers
  • LA Clippers
  • Charlotte Hornets
  • Cleveland Cavaliers

Houston Rockets

The Houston Rockets finished the 2022-23 season with the worst record in the NBA at 10-72. This gives them the best odds to win the draft lottery at 52.1%. If they get the #1 pick, they will likely select French prodigy Victor Wembanyama, who is considered the most hyped draft prospect since LeBron James.

Detroit Pistons

The Detroit Pistons ended their season second-worst in the league with a 14-68 record. They have a 52.1% chance at a top 4 pick and a 14% chance at the #1 overall pick. The Pistons are looking to add another foundational piece to build around last year’s #1 pick, Cade Cunningham.

Orlando Magic

With a 22-60 record, the Orlando Magic tied for the third worst record. Their odds to land the #1 pick are 12.5%. After selecting Paolo Banchero first overall in 2022, the Magic are hoping for more lottery luck to continue acquiring elite young talent.

Oklahoma City Thunder

OKC finished 24-58 this season, giving them a 10.5% chance for the top pick. The Thunder already have a crowded roster of lottery picks, so adding another top prospect would continue their rebuilding efforts. Victor Wembanyama could be an ideal frontcourt partner for 2022 #2 pick Chet Holmgren.

Indiana Pacers

The Pacers ended at 25-57, tying the Trail Blazers for the 5th worst record in the league. They will look to use a top draft pick to find a franchise cornerstone that can complement Tyrese Haliburton and lead the team into a new era.

Portland Trail Blazers

Tied with the Pacers at 25-57, the Blazers find themselves back in the lottery after missing the playoffs. With Damian Lillard sidelined for much of the season, Portland struggled to stay competitive. A high lottery pick could re-energize the franchise.

Sacramento Kings

In their 16th straight season missing the playoffs, the Kings went 30-52. They have a 7.5% chance at the #1 pick. Sacramento is still looking for a foundational player to build around like Luka Doncic or Jayson Tatum from recent drafts.

San Antonio Spurs

The Spurs finished 34-48, entrenching themselves in the lottery. With a 4.5% chance at the top pick, San Antonio could continue stockpiling young talent. After drafting Jeremy Sochan in 2022, the Spurs have the opportunity to add another top prospect to their growing core.

Washington Wizards

Missing the playoffs at 35-47, the Wizards find themselves in the lottery hunt yet again. Washington has struggled to build around Bradley Beal. With a 3.5% chance at #1, they could look to bring in another backcourt partner.

New York Knicks

After a disappointing season, the Knicks finished 37-45. They have a 2.5% chance to win the lottery. For a team perpetually in search of a star, getting lucky with a top pick could give New York the franchise player they’ve long coveted.

Los Angeles Lakers

The Lakers ended a disastrous season at 33-49. With a 2.5% chance, the lottery represents one of the team’s only avenues to improve next season. Adding a top prospect to their aging roster could help convince LeBron James to stay in LA.

LA Clippers

The injury-plagued Clippers went 41-41 this season. Their 1.5% lottery odds could help add young talent around Paul George and Kawhi Leonard next year as the team looks to bounce back into contention.

Charlotte Hornets

Charlotte underwhelmed this season, finishing 40-42. With a 1% chance, the lottery is unlikely to improve their situation significantly. The Hornets will need to hit on mid-round draft picks to give LaMelo Ball and the rest of their young core some help.

Cleveland Cavaliers

As the best team in the lottery field at 44-38, the Cavs have just a 0.5% chance at the #1 pick. After making the play-in last year, Cleveland took a step back despite high expectations. The lottery offers minimal odds to get back on track.

Lottery Odds

Here is a table summarizing the lottery odds for each team:

Team Record Lottery Odds
Houston Rockets 10-72 52.1%
Detroit Pistons 14-68 52.1%
Orlando Magic 22-60 12.5%
Oklahoma City Thunder 24-58 10.5%
Indiana Pacers 25-57 9.0%
Portland Trail Blazers 25-57 9.0%
Sacramento Kings 30-52 7.5%
San Antonio Spurs 34-48 4.5%
Washington Wizards 35-47 3.5%
New York Knicks 37-45 2.5%
Los Angeles Lakers 33-49 2.5%
LA Clippers 41-41 1.5%
Charlotte Hornets 40-42 1.0%
Cleveland Cavaliers 44-38 0.5%

Key Details

Here are some key details to know about the NBA draft lottery:

  • The lottery determines the top 4 picks, and the remaining teams are ordered by record.
  • Team representatives sit on stage during the lottery drawing to represent their franchise.
  • The lottery odds are calculated based on the teams’ regular season record.
  • The lottery drawing is conducted behind closed doors with auditors present.
  • The results are unveiled on live TV during the NBA draft lottery show.
  • The ultimate goal for teams is to land the #1 overall pick and the chance to select a transformational player.

Draft Lottery History

Since the weighted lottery system was introduced in 1990, there have been some notable lottery results:

  • In 1993, Orlando won the lottery with just a 1.52% chance and selected Shaquille O’Neal #1 overall.
  • The 2007 lottery produced another upset with Portland winning despite 0.6% odds to pick Greg Oden first.
  • The Cleveland Cavaliers have won the lottery 4 times, most recently to select Kyrie Irving in 2011.
  • The New Orleans Pelicans set the record with a 6.0% chance of winning the top pick in 2019, which they used on Zion Williamson.
  • Teams with the best lottery odds have won the #1 pick just 4 times in the last 25 lotteries.

This Year’s Top Prospects

This year, the consensus top prospect teams will look to select with a lottery pick is Victor Wembanyama. At 7’4″ with rare athleticism and skill, Wembanyama is considered a generational talent that could transform a franchise.

Some other elite prospects in this year’s draft class include:

  • Scoot Henderson – Consensus #2 prospect, explosive combo guard
  • Amen Thompson – Two-way wing with huge upside
  • Nick Smith Jr. – crafty scorer and playmaker
  • Cam Whitmore – athletic forward, great rebounder
  • Dariq Whitehead – versatile scoring wing
  • Keyonte George – perimeter shooter and ball-handler

The Lottery Process

The behind closed doors lottery process consists of the following steps:

  1. 14 ping-pong balls numbered 1-14 are placed in a lottery machine.
  2. There are 1,001 possible number combinations when 4 balls are drawn out of 14.
  3. Each team is assigned combinations based on their lottery odds.
  4. The lottery machine randomly selects 4 balls to create a 4-digit combination.
  5. The team assigned that combination wins the lottery.
  6. The process is repeated to determine the second and third picks.

After the top 3 picks are determined, the remaining teams pick in reverse order of their regular season record.

Odds of Winning

While teams with the worst records have the best lottery odds, there is still a possibility for any lottery team to land the #1 pick. Here are some interesting odds statistics:

  • The Rockets at 52.1% have about a coin flip’s chance at the #1 pick.
  • Detroit has about a 1 in 3 shot between pick 1-4.
  • Orlando’s 12.5% odds at #1 are a little worse than 1 in 8.
  • The Clippers have worse than a 1 in 66 shot to move into the top 4.
  • Cleveland at 0.5% has roughly 1 in 200 odds to win the lottery.

While not probable, teams like the Clippers and Cavaliers still have a statistical chance to luck into a franchise-changing pick.

Implications of the Lottery Results

The results of the draft lottery can shape the NBA landscape for years. Some potential implications include:

  • If the Rockets land the #1 pick, they could become a force with Wembanyama.
  • The Thunder adding another top 3 pick would accelerate their rebuild.
  • The Magic getting lucky again would give them an intimidating young core.
  • The Lakers or Knicks moving into the top 4 could help them reload stars.
  • The Spurs adding to their young core could kickstart a new era.
  • Unlucky lottery results can cost executives or coaches their jobs.

One bounce of a ping pong ball can determine whether a team becomes a dynasty or wallows in the lottery for another decade.

Interesting Draft Lottery Facts

Here are some fascinating facts about the history of the NBA draft lottery:

  • From 1985 to 1989 the worst teams had an equal shot at the #1 pick.
  • In 1993, Orlando’s 1.52% lottery odds remain the longest shot ever to win.
  • The Knicks have never moved up in the lottery in their history.
  • The Timberwolves had bad lottery luck until getting the #1 pick 3 times recently.
  • The Pistons fell out of top 2 picks in 2003 despite 19.9% odds costing them LeBron.
  • Executives have tried elaborate good luck rituals to influence the lottery odds.
  • Rookie of the Year winners were drafted #1 overall 24 times in history.
  • Only 3 teams have won the lottery in back-to-back years – Cleveland, Chicago, and Minnesota.

With conspiracy theories and good fortune dictating franchise trajectories, the lottery continues to be one of the most fascinating and impactful events on the NBA calendar.


The lottery provides hope and excitement to the 14 teams who miss the playoffs each year. With the potential to vault from the depths into a contender with some lottery luck, fan bases watch with eager anticipation. While the teams with the worst records have an advantage, every lottery squad has a chance to hit the jackpot.

For the upcoming 2023 NBA Draft Lottery on May 16th, Victor Wembanyama and Scoot Henderson represent generational talents at the top of the board. The Rockets, Pistons and Magic will look to strike gold after difficult seasons. With teams like the Lakers and Knicks looking for good fortune, the lottery results will shape the NBA for years to come.