2019 NBA Draft Lottery: The Zion Williamson Sweepstakes Explained

The New York Knicks, Cleveland Cavaliers and Phoenix Suns have an equal chance to land the coveted top spot in the 2019 NBA Draft Lottery.

By Norm Elrod

(CBS Chicago/CBS Local) — The 2019 NBA Draft Lottery, scheduled for Tuesday, May 19 in Chicago, offers the luckiest of the NBA’s lesser teams the dream of one day contending. Every non-playoff team team hopes to land a trajectory-changing player in the Draft, or at least add another contributor. The chance of that happening improves the higher a team picks in the draft. And the lottery determines that order.

So what team has the best shot at landing that top spot, and the right to select Duke forward Zion Williamson or be ridiculed mercilessly for passing on him? What other teams might land in the top five, high enough to select Williamson’s teammate, guard R.J. Barrett, or perhaps NCAA Tournament standouts guard Ja Morant from Murray State, guard Jarrett Culver from Texas Tech or forward De’Andre Hunter out of Virginia?

The NBA has adjusted its rules for the 2019 NBA Lottery, so let’s review. Under the new rules, the three teams with the worst records each have a 14% chance of landing the first pick. Odds for the remaining teams drop off from there as records improve, though odds for mid-lottery teams have improved somewhat. The previous rules gave the three worst teams a 25%, 19.9% and 15.6% chance respectively.

After the first four teams are selected, the remaining teams in this year’s lottery will be slotted worst to best by record. The team with worst record — the New York Knicks — is guaranteed to pick no worse than fifth.

Here are the NBA teams eligible for the lottery, along with their odds landing a good pick:

New York Knicks: No. 1: 14%; Top 4: 52.1%

Cleveland Cavaliers: No. 1: 14%, Top 4: 52.1%

Phoenix Suns: No. 1: 14%, Top 4: 52.1%

Chicago Bulls: No. 1: 12.5%, Top 4: 48%

Atlanta Hawks: No. 1: 10.5%, Top 4: 42.1%

Washington Wizards: No. 1: 9%, Top 4: 37.2%

New Orleans Pelicans: No. 1: 6%, Top 4: 26.3%

Dallas Mavericks: No. 1: 6%, Top 4: 26.3%

Memphis Grizzlies: No. 1: 6%, Top 4: 26.3%

Minnesota Timberwolves No. 1: 3%, Top 4: 13.9%

Los Angeles Lakers: No. 1: 2%, Top 4: 9.4%

Charlotte Hornets: No. 1: 1%, Top 4: 4.8%

Miami Heat: No. 1: 1%, Top 4: 4.8%

Sacramento Kings: No. 1: 1%, Top 4: 4.8%


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