Dub Nation HQ Guide to Watching The Draft Lottery, including progressive odds

Coordinates, progressive odds with each pick, and how much to panic at each step

Seems like we were just here last year.

The 2021 NBA Draft Lottery will take place on ESPN at Tuesday, June 22 at 5:30 p.m. Pacific. The revealed picks will be relevant to GSW right from the start, so tune in early.

The usual format is the pick order will be revealed from #14 through #1, with a symbolic representative from each team there to emote on behalf of the fan base.1 I don’t know who the GSW rep is (as of Jun 12) but I’m betting something like Oakland mayor Libby Schaaf or one of Joe Lacob’s kids. (Spoiler: it turns out to be outgoing GSW president Rick Welts.)

Only the first four picks are determined by lottery. Every other team keeps the order by reverse regular season record.

StopNPop reminds us: The actual lottery procedure will take place in a separate room just before ESPN’s national broadcast. A media member, NBA officials and a representative of the accounting firm Ernst & Young will be in attendance for the drawings.

From: https://www.nba.com/nba-draft-lottery-explainer

The exact odds are summarized here (but I’ll also summarize in the countdown).

Key fact: GSW gets MIN’s pick if it is NOT Top 3; if it is Top 3, GSW gets MIN’s pick next year.

From Wikipedia:

Key Moment 1. Who picks #14?

The very first event of the Lottery will be a moment of (almost certainly shattered) hope for Dub Nation.

I wrote before:

Even the lowest 2.4% chance makes the lottery worth watching. The least likely lottery wins have been:

  • 1.52%, 1993 ORL. Pick: Chris Webber, who got traded to GSW and as I recall had a long successful and controversy-free career here. Yep.

  • 1.7%, 2008 CHI. Pick: Derrick Rose. They lucked into an MVP.

  • 1.7%. 2014 CLE. Pick: Andrew Wiggins, traded for Kevin Love.

  • 2.8%. 2011 LAC but owned by CLE. Pick: Kyrie Irving. Wow, that LeBron James can’t catch a break, huh? CLE nailing super-long-shot lottery odds twice in four years to roll out the red carpet for LeBron’s rebound relationship after dumping Miami.

97.59% GSW

In 97.6% of the multiverses, the GSW logo will be revealed at #14.

Recommended Reaction: Nod sagely. This is expected. In the 2021 Draft, there is a mush of good players available to draft from #6 through #14, so if GSW wants to pick, they can get someone decent.

2.41% not GSW

Instant pandemonium across Dub Nation because that means GSW won the lottery, and will be picking in the Top 4.

Recommended Reaction: Immediately party. Hard. But not to unconsciousness, because everyone will now have to wait for the Top 4 to be revealed to see which pick GSW gets. I won’t cover this unicorn pixie timeline here any further.

Key Moment 2. Who picks #10?

0.15% MIN

This means that GSW keeps the pick. This can only happen in the astonishing timeline where the Top 4 lottery picks are all won by teams at #7 through #14.

Recommended Reaction: Be relieved that GSW will have the draft pick, though allow yourself to ponder if an unprotected MIN pick in 2022 would have been better than this. Remember, the team is improving and MIN in this timeline would have added a Top 3 stud. Maybe the conveyed pick wouldn’t even be a lottery pick next year. And having the pick this year means you can trade it this year for immediate help.

However, this is the unluckiest of the “Keep MIN Pick” scenarios. It also has the odds of Steph Curry missing three free throws in a row, so don’t lose sleep expecting it.

99.85% Someone else

Recommended Reaction: Nod soberly (assuming we aren’t in the unicorn pixie timeline in which case you will be very tipsy and happy). Expected. GSW now has 27.65% odds of losing the pick this year.

Key Moment 3. Who picks #9?

Let’s assume we’re here because MIN won’t pick #10. This changes the odds subtly for future events. It’s almost undetectable now, but will play a bigger and bigger role the farther we get into the lottery show as possibilities for MIN get eliminated.

3.69% MIN (was 3.68% pre-lottery)

GSW keeps the pick.

Recommended Reaction: Nod philosophically, as this is a bit worse than the average scenario where GSW keeps picks.

96.31% Someone else

The odds of losing the pick are now at 28.71%, a bit more than the odds that Draymond Green hit a three this season.

Key Moment 4. Who picks #8?

We know MIN won’t pick below #9. That raises the odds of every other possible scenario. So the odds of getting #8 began as 20.55% but now are at:

21.37% MIN

GSW keeps the pick.

Recommended Reaction: Be happy. GSW kept the pick, and #8 is a solid pick.

78.63% Someone else

Recommended Reaction: Get excited and nervous at the same time. The odds of getting #4, #6, #7 are of course much higher now, but the odds of losing the pick are 36.51%, about the odds of Nico Mannion hitting a three this season.

Key Moment 5. Who picks #7?

The odds of #7 were 29.77% at the start, the most likely scenario. But now that MIN is definitely picking #7 or above, the progressive odds that MIN gets #7 are:

39.37% MIN

GSW keeps the pick.

Recommended Reaction: Be very happy. GSW kept the pick, and #7 is a solid pick.

60.63% Someone else

Recommended Reaction: Excitement time. The odds of getting #4 or #6 are, of course, much higher now, but the odds of losing the pick are now at 60.22%. To keep the pick, we need Mychal Mulder to hit a three, and I know that’s got to make you nervous.

Key Moment 6. Who picks #6?

The odds of #6 were 8.62% at the start. But now that MIN is definitely picking #6 or above, the progressive odds that MIN gets #6 are:

18.80% MIN

GSW keeps the pick.

Recommended Reaction: Be very very happy. GSW beat the odds after Key Moment 5 and kept the pick. Celebrate with some classy food and drink.

81.20% Someone else

Recommended Reaction: MIN cannot pick #5. It’s either #4 for GSW or they lose the pick, and the probability of losing the pick is now at 74.16%. There will be a few minutes to catch your breath as they go to commercial before announcing the final four picks.

Odin, if you’re out there, it’s me, Apricot. I know I haven’t been a very faithful believer in the Norse pantheon, but today, I could really use your help. If you can help us out, I will sacrifice cattle along the beaches of…

Key Moment 7. Who picks #4?

The odds of #4 were 9.62% at the start. But now that MIN is definitely picking #4 or above, the progressive odds that MIN gets #4 are:

25.84% MIN

WOW, GSW KEEPS THE PICK!! They really beat the odds and somehow ended up with the best possible outcome for the MIN pick by winning the lottery and getting exactly the #4 pick.

Recommended Reaction: High five everyone all the time. I’m going to have to re-write my whole Draft Pick tournament, but it’s worth it!

74.16% Someone else

Recommended Reaction: Be sad GSW will not get the pick until next year. But then when you’re ready to feel something else…

First, remember that this pick is a bonus thrown into the awesome Andrew Wiggins - D’Angelo Russell trade, which would have been worth it even without the pick.

Second, acknowledge that MIN did the anti-tank to end the season and tried hard to win every game. They lowered their odds of keeping their draft pick from 40.17% (for the #1 seed) all the way down to 27.61%). For that, they have my serious respect, and the basketball gods rewarded them for it.


I’m not sure what the general policy is for teams that have definitely traded their pick. It seems kind of mean to have a team accept the pick just to give it away, but they do that with the actual draft and have players wear the hat of the actual team picking, even if they are traded. In any case, it’s not relevant this year, because all picks are protected, so certainly the original team will be there.