The Mock Draft Lottery

I haven't figured out how anyone can do a reasonable mock draft when they don't know each teams final drafting order. So, as a community service, I submit my mock draft lottery so that all of you would be mock drafters can have some semblance of reality in your mock draft.

To lend some credibility to my mock draft lottery, I'll describe the process of selecting each teams final draft position. I mean I can't have anyone thinking that I just made it up, can I?

First, in the real draft lottery the 14 non playoff teams are set in order of worst record first and best record last (or 14th). Any ties between two or more teams are broken with a coin flip which the NBA already did so we don't have to guess at that.

You may have heard about ping pong balls and that the first team, Orlando this year, gets 250 chances. And that there are 1000 possible chances split between all the lottery teams. But, if you pictured 1000 ping pong balls you'd be wrong. There are actually 14 ping pong balls. Yes, 14. How can there only be 14 you ask? Because some clever mathmatician figured out that there are 1001 possible combinations of 4 among those 14 ping pong balls. Well, not too clever since there's one more combination than is needed. Don't worry though, the rules state that if we get that last combination we just ignore it and pick agian.

What do we mean by cobinations of 4? Well, picutre a guy with too much time and a spreadsheet (ok, ok, a nerd with too much time...). The spreadsheet will have 4 columns and each row represents a different combination. So the first couple of rows will look like this:

1 2 3 4 Combination #1
1 2 3 5 Combination #2

And the last few rows would be:

10 11 12 14 Combination #998
10 11 13 14 Combination #999
10 12 13 14 Combination #1000
11 12 13 14 Combination #1001

(Here I'll have to admit that I built the spreadsheet :)

How would picking a combination work? Well, if you pick 4 ping pong balls out of a machine one at a time you might get a 4, then 11, then 8 and then 12. Sort them in order lowest to highest and you get 4, 8, 11, 12. Then scan down your spreadsheet until you find the row with those numbers and the number of that row is the combination. In this example the row/combination is 776.

How do you assign teams to combinations? Um, well, I don't know how the NBA does it. But in my mock draft lottery I'm going to simply assign the first 250 combinations to Orlando, the next 199 to Charlotte and so on. This makes the Blazers combinations 964 to 974.

A couple of details still remain like are we going to use our handy lottery system to choose all 14 draft positions? Nope, we're going to pick only the top three positions in order 1 through 3. Once those first three positions are determined then the rest of the lottery teams are placed in record order worst record in 4th position and best record in 14th position.

My spreadsheet is ready with 1001 combinations, each assigned to one of the 14 lottery teams. I'm putting my 14 ping pong balls numbered 1 to 14 (actually, numbers written on scraps of paper) into my lottery machine (actually, a hat). As a side note, I think I've been eating too much Chinese food because in my case I'm using fortune cookie fortune's for my scraps of paper.

And, we begin. Isn't this exciting! For first pick the first number is... 11 followed by 1, 13 and 6. Put the numbers in order (1, 6, 11 and 13) and scan down the spreadsheet and we have combination #226 which is... (insert David Stearn like excitement here) Orlando.

I throw my ping pong balls (fortunes) back into the machine (hat) and pick the next combination. If it comes up Orlando then we pick again. For second pick in the draft, the second set of 4 numbers are; 4, 6, 8 and 12. Combination #722... Phoenix.

Ready to choose for the third pick in the draft and the numbers are; 1, 8, 10, 12. Combination #258... Charlotte.

So, the final draft order for the 14 lottery teams in the mock draft lottery is:
#14 Utah
#13 Dallas
#12 Toronto (Conveyed to Oklahoma City)
#11 Philadelphia
#10 Portland
#9 Minnesota
#8 Washington
#7 Detroit
#6 Sacramento
#5 New Orleans
#4 Cleveland
#3 Charlotte
#2 Phoenix
#1 Orlando

Now maybe we'll see some realistic mock drafts out there ;-)

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