The 31st NBA Draft Lottery will take place on Tuesday night in New York. The first ever lottery took place in 1985, when the New York Knicks won the top pick and selected Patrick Ewing.
In the first drafts, teams simply picked in reverse order of their win-loss record. There was also a special territorial-pick rule that allowed a team to draft a player from the local area, although that team then lost their first-round pick if the territorial pick was used. The draft system was changed in 1966 to feature a coin flip between the worst teams in each division, and that system stayed in place until that first lottery in 1985.
The first version of the lottery involved envelopes of the non-playoff teams being selected out of a hopper, with every team having the same chance at the top pick. There was controversy surrounding the Knicks' victory in that debut lottery, because some thought the NBA rigged it by making it easy to tell which envelope belonged to New York. Despite the criticism surrounding the envelope system, it remained through 1989, although a tweak was made in 1987 that made it so the lottery only determined the top three picks.
The weighted lottery system was introduced in 1990 and remains to this day, albeit with a few changes. This weighted system meant the team with the worst record finally got the best chance to earn the top pick. However, since this system was implemented, the team with the worst record has only won the lottery three times.
NBA Draft Lottery
Everything you need to know about the lottery
Tanking, protected picks, top prospects and everything else worth knowing about the big event that determines the NBA Draft order.
NBA Draft Lottery
The New Jersey Nets earned the top pick with the worst record in the first year of the weighted system and chose Derrick Coleman. The next time it happened wasn't until 2003, when the Cleveland Cavaliers won the right to select LeBron James after finishing the year tied for worst in the league. The next year, the Orlando Magic finished last in the NBA and won the lottery, and that top pick turned into Dwight Howard.
The worst team in the league hasn't won the lottery since the Magic in 2004, and the Minnesota Timberwolves hope to buck that trend this year.
The biggest winners in lottery history are the Los Angeles Clippers, Cavaliers and Magic. The Clippers have won the lottery five times (1986, 1988, 1998, 2009, 2011), but two of those top picks have gone to other teams because of trades. Cleveland has won the lottery three times (2003, 2013, 2014) and also got the 2011 top pick from Los Angeles. The Cavaliers chose Kyrie Irving that year.
In addition to winning the lottery in 2004, the Magic also won in 1992 and 1993. Orlando took Shaquille O'Neal with the first pick in 1992 and Chris Webber in 1993, although Webber was subsequently traded to the Golden State Warriors for Penny Hardaway and three future first-round picks.
Orlando's victory in 1993 was the biggest upset in lottery history. The Magic had just a 1.52 percent chance of winning that year. The Cavaliers only had a 1.7 percent chance of winning in 2014, and that pick turned into Andrew Wiggins, who was then traded for Kevin Love. The Chicago Bulls also only had a 1.7 percent chance when they won in 2008 and selected Derrick Rose first overall.
Here's a look at the full history of the lottery:
|Year||Team||Previous season record||Probability of winning lottery||Player selected|
|1985||Knicks||24-58 (3rd-worst)||14.29%||Patrick Ewing|
|1986||Clippers (to Cavaliers via 76ers)||32-50 (7th-worst)||14.29%||Brad Daugherty|
|1987||Spurs||28-54 (4th-worst)||14.29%||David Robinson|
|1988||Clippers||17-65 (Worst)||14.29%||Danny Manning|
|1989||Kings||27-55 (6th-worst)||11.11%||Pervis Ellison|
|1990||Nets||17-65 (Worst)||16.67%||Derrick Coleman|
|1991||Charlotte Hornets||26-56 (5th-worst)||10.61%||Larry Johnson|
|1992||Magic||21-61 (2nd-worst)||15.15%||Shaquille O'Neal|
|1993||Magic||41-41 (11th-worst)||1.52%||Chris Webber|
|1994||Bucks||20-62 (2nd-worst)||16.30%||Glenn Robinson|
|1995||Warriors||26-56 (5th-worst)||9.4%||Joe Smith|
|1996||76ers||18-64 (2nd-worst)||33.73%||Allen Iverson|
|1997||Spurs||20-62 (3rd-worst)||21.60%||Tim Duncan|
|1998||Clippers||17-65 (3rd-worst)||22.56%||Michael Olowokandi|
|1999||Bulls||13-37 (3rd-worst)||15.70%||Elton Brand|
|2000||Nets||31-51 (7th-worst)||4.40%||Kenyon Martin|
|2001||Wizards||19-63 (3rd-worst)||15.70%||Kwame Brown|
|2002||Rockets||28-54 (5th-worst)||8.90%||Yao Ming|
|2003||Cavaliers||17-65 (T-Worst)||22.50%||LeBron James|
|2004||Magic||21-61 (Worst)||25.00%||Dwight Howard|
|2005||Bucks||30-52 (6th-worst)||6.30%||Andrew Bogut|
|2006||Raptors||27-55 (5th-worst)||8.80%||Andrea Bargnani|
|2007||Trail Blazers||32-50 (6th-worst)||5.30%||Greg Oden|
|2008||Bulls||33-49 (9th-worst)||1.70%||Derrick Rose|
|2009||Clippers||19-63 (2nd-worst)||17.70%||Blake Griffin|
|2010||Wizards||26-56 (5th-worst)||10.30%||John Wall|
|2011||Clippers (to Cavaliers)||32-50 (8th-worst)||2.80%||Kyrie Irving|
|2012||New Orleans Hornets||21-45 (T-3rd-worst)||13.70%||Anthony Davis|
|2013||Cavaliers||24-58 (3rd-worst)||15.60%||Anthony Bennett|
|2014||Cavaliers||33-49 (9th-worst)||1.70%||Andrew Wiggins|