How will the Hornets fare in the NBA draft lottery? The quirky May 18th event will determine if we draft someone like Evan Turner or someone like Patrick Patterson. Franchises could be made, franchises could be lost. It's dramatic and intriguing and all those other words ESPN wants to call it.
For the Hornets, though, the Lottery will likely be drama-free. With the 11th worst record in the NBA, there's little doubt they will receive the 11th pick in the draft. But let's discuss the NBA lottery process a bit first, and then we'll get to the Hornets' odds.
The actual lottery happens behind closed doors, with team representatives and auditors present to ensure fairness throughout the process. The commissioner selects balls out of a weird spinner, and whatever team's logo is on the chosen ball receives the pick.
Figure 1: Weird spinner, indeed.
Of course, there are never-ending allegations that the lottery is fixed. The claims stem from the infamous 1985 draft in which seven envelopes were put into a tumbler, and David Stern went straight for an envelope with a bent corner. The envelope belonged to the New York Knicks, who proceeded to draft Patrick Ewing. Allegations of a fixed lottery seem slightly less believable today - even the Clippers have won the lottery.
Pick Odds of Winning 1 0.8% 2 0.9% 3 1.2% 11 90.7% 12 6.3% 13 0.1%
Odds of Winning
This year, the Hornets have a 0.8% chance of getting the first pick in the NBA draft. I was prepared to write that stranger things have happened, but in the NBA draft lottery, that's not actually true. The least probably team to ever win the lottery was the Orlando Magic in 1993. With the 11th worst record in the league, they had a 1.52% chance of winning the lottery (in one of its previous iterations).
The point is that it's possible the Hornets get the first pick, but it's very unlikely. The Hornets only have a 2.9% chance of getting a top-three draft pick, but have a 97% chance of receiving the 11th or 12th draft pick. Here it is graphically: