When is the NBA draft lottery and how does it work?

May 16, 2023; Chicago, IL, USA; People walk past the 2023 NBA Draft Lottery board at McCormick Place
May 16, 2023; Chicago, IL, USA; People walk past the 2023 NBA Draft Lottery board at McCormick Place / David Banks-USA TODAY Sports

As the second half of the NBA season gets underway, many fans are thinking about the playoffs. But in Charlotte, more fans realistically have an eye towards the NBA draft. 

And before fans can truly start focusing on the draft, mock drafts, and other scenarios, they’ll want to know exactly where the Hornets will be picking. The NBA draft lottery will determine that.

When is the NBA draft lottery?

The lottery itself will take place on Sunday, May 12th in Chicago, during round two of the NBA playoffs. The event will of course be televised as well. This will be the 39th annual draft lottery, and it will establish the draft order for all non-playoff teams, picks 1-14 overall.

What teams are in the NBA draft lottery?

The draft lottery determines the order for the 14 teams that don’t make the playoffs, including the 4 play-in losers. The odds of the best pick are set according to the reverse order of finish, with the three worst having equal odds. So the three teams with the worst records in the league have the best odds, then the fourth worst, and the team with the best record that missed the playoffs has the 14th best odds.

How is the lottery order determined?

The NBA will actually take ping-pong balls out of a machine, like a true lottery. The number combinations have been assigned to the 14 teams. The three worst teams will have the most combinations, and the amount will descend from there with the 14th worst team having the fewest combinations.

Only the first four picks are determined by the lottery, the rest of the order will go descending by record for the 10 remaining teams in the lottery. So the worst team can only fall as low as the 5th pick, the second worst can only fall to the 6th pick, and so on.

Where do the Hornets stand?

The Hornets currently have the fourth-worst record in the NBA. If that holds, they will have a 12.5% chance at the first overall pick, a 12.2% chance at the second pick, an 11.9% chance at the third pick, and an 11.5% chance at the fourth pick. 

The lowest they could fall would be the eighth overall pick, but that would only be a 2.2% chance of happening. There are still 28 games to go, and a lot can change in the standings, but it’s something to watch closely.