While you’ve been distracted by some awesome playoff basketball, the NBA draft lottery might have snuck up on you. The annual allocation of draft picks, as determined by ping pong balls, will occur on Thursday evening, and as you can guess, it will look a bit different due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
For those who are interested in a quick primer on what you can expect this evening, here’s what you need to know:
When is the NBA draft lottery again?
The virtual event will take place Thursday at 8:30 p.m. EST on ESPN following Bucks-Magic, with Rachel Nichols and a panel of analysts guiding you through the evening. It will last 30 minutes between playoff games.
All the teams who either weren’t invited or have since had to leave the Bubble. That’s the Warriors, Cavs, Timberwolves, Hawks, Pistons, Knicks, Bulls, Hornets, Wizards, Suns, Spurs, Kings, Pelicans, and Grizzlies.
Each team will have a representative at the dais as usual, only this time it will be virtual, similar to what the NFL and WNBA did for their drafts back in April. Those reps include Steph Curry, D’Angelo Russell, and De’Aaron Fox.
Here is a list of the team representatives for the 2020 NBA Draft Lottery: pic.twitter.com/3muvwLz2FA
— Cody Taylor (@CodyTaylorNBA) August 18, 2020
Didn’t the NBA change the odds for this thing?
Yes, that happened last year. It means the bottom three teams in the league all have a 14 percent chance at the top pick, while each team in the lottery has a better chance at hopping up into the top four than before.
Golden State, Cleveland and Minnesota have the best odds at picking first overall, but last year, the Pelicans won the lottery while having just a 6 percent chance at No. 1 heading into the night, while the Lakers hopped up from No. 11 all the way to No. 4. Here is what this year’s odds for the No. 1 pick look like.
Golden State Warriors: 14%
Cleveland Cavaliers: 14%
Minnesota Timberwolves: 14%
Atlanta Hawks: 12.5%
Detroit Pistons: 10.5%
New York Knicks: 9%
Chicago Bulls: 7.5%
Charlotte Hornets: 6%
Washington Wizards: 4.5%
Phoenix Suns: 3%
San Antonio Spurs: 2%
Sacramento Kings: 1.3%
New Orleans Pelicans: 1.2%
Memphis Grizzlies: 0.5%
Who’s the top prospect?
That’s a harder question to answer. A few guys have claim to that crown right now, including Anthony Edwards, LaMelo Ball, and James Wiseman. Ball is an even more interesting prospect than his older brother, while Edwards looks like an heir apparent to Bradley Beal and Devin Booker and Wiseman has the chance to be another generational defensive center if he works out. This class is not viewed as particularly top heavy, drawing comparisons to the miserable 2013 draft, but as always, there is exciting talent among this group.