TWolvesblog Draft Lottery Analysis


As you all may or may not know, the NBA draft lottery is tomorrow night, May 19th.  Despite the fact that we almost always get SCREWED the Wolves have had pretty bad lottery luck in the past, I am always thoroughly excited by this spectacle.  There’s nothing better than watching this on DVR (to heighten the suspense), with the promise of a delicious bottle of Hennessey as a reward, should the Wolves ever actually win the lottery.  In the spirit of the season, fellow TWolvesBlog columnist Mike “Wally World” Reynolds and I conducted an interesting exercise in anticipation of tomorrow night. 

Over at ESPN.com, Chad Ford has been publishing a NBA Lottery Mock Draft Simulator for a few years now.  It’s really cool, if you didn’t know.  It allows you to simulate the lottery with the click of a button, as it has all the odds and every possible scenario for the 14 lottery teams.  Chad Ford has also gone through and pegged potential players for every lottery team in every single possible draft situation.  Basically it’s like running your own mini-lottery AND draft at the same time, from the comfort of your own home.

With this in mind, Wally World and I came up with the idea to run his simulation 250 times each, and take down detailed notes of our results.  Granted, this doesn’t actually prove anything, but it was fun, and we wanted to get an idea for what to expect with the Wolves tomorrow night (and for the NBA draft in June.)  Continue on if you’d like to see the nuts and bolts on our 500 combined simulation results, including: how many times the Wolves “won” the lottery, which draft postion most commonly occured, the players Chad Ford has the Wolves selecting at each position, and finally, Wally World and I’s own personal Top 5 draft Wish Lists!

Please click “Read More” To see all the detailed results of our scientific experimentation…




Wolves aggregate odds of moving up or down in the lottery:

-  Move up (#1 – #3) = 25.49%
-  No Move (#5) = 26.27%
-  Move down (#6 – #8) = 48.27%

First up, we’ve got the results showing which exact number position the Wolves landed in after running the simulator a combined 500 times.  For those of you that don’t know how the lottery works, the top 3 picks are drawn under the lottery system, with the remaining 11 picks then distributed via record in descending order.  So, the Wolves could “win” one of the top 3 picks, but NOT the fourth pick, since we ended the season with the fifth worst record.  If no teams worse than the Wolves win the lottery, and if the Wolves don’t win the lottery, then we keep our fifth pick.  Under the scenario that any teams with worse lottery odds (better record) than the Wolves move up to the top three, it effectively bumps us down to #6, #7 (if two teams win the lotto), or #8 (if god forbid three teams with worse odds leapfrog the Wolves.)  If the Wolves end up with the eighth pick (0.42% chance) then I am ending my life.  I’m serious.  At least partly.  If none of this jargon makes any sense to you, then maybe Wikipedia can explain it to you more articulately.  If you are still confused after that link, then you are probably a Wrestling fan and on the wrong website.

- The first graph is my results from running Chad Ford’s simulation 250 times.

- The second graph is WW’s results.

- The third graph is our combined results from running the simulation 500 total times.

- “Draft Spot” is where the Wolves ended up each individual time after running a simulation. 

- “True %” are the true odds of the Wolves getting each pick at the NBA draft lottery tomorrow night.

- “Sim Results” are the percentages of what we found from running our little experiment.

CW Lotto Results              
Draft Spot =  Total #1 Total #2 Total #3 Total #5 Total #6 Total #7 Total #8
True % =  7.60% 8.43% 9.46% 26.27% 38.50% 9.32% 0.42%
Sample Size: 250 26 23 30 67 77 27 0
Sim Results 10.40% 9.20% 12.00% 26.80% 30.80% 10.80% 0.00%
WW Lotto Results              
Draft Spot =  Total #1 Total #2 Total #3 Total #5 Total #6 Total #7 Total #8
True % =  7.60% 8.43% 9.46% 26.27% 38.50% 9.32% 0.42%
Sample Size: 250 14 25 20 77 91 19 4
Sim Results 5.60% 10.00% 8.00% 30.80% 36.40% 7.60% 1.60%
Draft Spot =  Total #1 Total #2 Total #3 Total #5 Total #6 Total #7 Total #8
True % =  7.60% 8.43% 9.46% 26.27% 38.50% 9.32% 0.42%
Sample Size: 500 40 48 50 144 168 46 4
Sim Results 8.00% 9.60% 10.00% 28.80% 33.60% 9.20% 0.80%

Well… I would have to say that our results have got to give Wolves fans a little hope for tomorrow night.  As you can see, our Total Sim Results gave us an 8% chance of the #1 overall pick (compared to our true odds of 7.6%)  Same thing with the #2 pick (sim results of 9.6% vs 8.43 true percent) and the #3 pick (sim results of 10% vs 9.46 true percent.)  On the other end of the spectrum, we actually were less likely to get the #6 or #7 pick (makes sense, it has to balance out), but we actually doubled our chances at landing the #8 pick (which would be the apocolypse for Wolves fans.)  I am not sure what Mike was doing, but I didn’t get the #8 pick once, so he was really screwing with my universe when he showed me his results.  Just kidding.  Sorta.



Same thing here, except we are just showing which players Chad Ford has predicted that the Wolves would choose at each given draft position, and depending on which other teams were picking before us.  The player that most commonly came up was DeMar DeRozan, typically at pick #5 or #6.  This makes sense that DeRozan was the most common choice, as we have the best odds at landing the #5 or #6 pick in the draft.  So, I guess there is not too much info to be gleaned from these results below, but we just wanted to get them out there since we record all 500 simulations.  Here is what Chad Ford had for the Wolves selections:

1)  Griffin - Everytime.
2)  Rubio – Everytime.
3)  Thabeet – Everytime.
5)  Harden/DeRozan – This was the spot where he had the Wolves most likely picking Harden, with DeRozan coming in second.  I believe there were a few instances where he had Jennings here as well.
6)  DeRozan - This pick was almost always DeRozan, with Harden and Jennings being a distant second and third.
7)  Jennings – This pick was typically Jennings, with a few instances being DeRozan.
8)  Holiday – Everytime.


CW Player Results DeRozan Harden Thabeet Jennings Griffin Rubio Holiday
Sample Size: 250 106 37 30 28 26 23 0
% 42.40% 14.80% 12.00% 11.20% 10.40% 9.20% 0.00%
WW Player Results DeRozan Harden Jennings Rubio Thabeet Griffin Holiday
Sample Size: 250 127 34 26 25 20 14 4
% 50.80% 13.60% 10.40% 10.00% 8.00% 5.60% 1.60%
Combined Player DeRozan Harden Jennings Thabeet Rubio Griffin Holiday
Sample Size: 500 233 71 54 50 48 40 4
% 46.60% 14.20% 10.80% 10.00% 9.60% 8.00% 0.80%

So what do all these charts and graphs and results and numbers and nonsense mean exactly?  To be honest, probably not a whole lot.  The odds were pretty close to what we should mathematically expect to happen (but you have to love our favorable results at #1, 2, and 3!)  In regards to the players that Chad Ford pegged for us, what does he know about who the Wolves are going to draft (or any team for that matter?)  It’s not like he’s privvy to Front Office draft pick discussions, nor would I imagine that he sees most (any?) of the individual player workouts with individual teams.  Hell, the Wolves don’t even have a GM, how would anyone know who we are going to draft at this point?  I’m not even sure the Wolves know who’s available (I heard they are hoping for Colt Iverson to declare.)  Ok, just joking.  This was just an exercise in fun, born out of two Wolves fans curiousity for the NBA draft lottery tomorrow night.  We only hope that the results were at least interesting to most of you.  We’ll leave you with our own personal Top 5 Draft Wish Lists at this point in time. 


College Wolf’s Top 5 Draft Wish List:

1.  Ricky Rubio – Ricky is potentially one of the best young PG’s to enter the league in years.  He’s been playing in top flight professional competition since he was 16 years old, and is still only 18 years old and armed with nearly limitless potential.  You don’t pass up franchise PG’s when the minutely small chances come around in which you can nab one.

2.  Blake Griffin – Being that he’s the consensus #1 pick, there’s no way we pass him up for anyone other than Rubio.  Best case scenario has the Wolves winning the lottery and trading down to #2 for Rubio and additional assets and/or a salary dump.

3.  James Harden – An athletic NBA ready SG has been a desperate need for the Wolves for quite a few years now.  He is “sneaky athletic, has legitimate size, can get to the rim and finish, and has gobs of basketball smarts (aka the overused “high basketball IQ”.)

4.  Tyreke Evans -  He excelled in Memphis after being moved to PG, which is the Wolves most pressing need.  Assuming we don’t get Rubio, I would not complain about landing Evans (although I’d still be depressed about missing out on R-squared.)  You’ve got to love his athleticism and size (legitimate 6’6″)

5.  DeMar DeRozan – An uber-athletic SG/SF with some of the most potential in the entire draft.  He’s probably the most “risky” of my five choices, hence the reason I’ve got him at #5 on my board.  Then again, its not like the Wolves and their few remaining fans don’t have time to wait for a prospect with the upside of DeRozan to develop.

Wally World Top 5 Draft Wish List:

1. Blake Griffin - Positional needs aside, not drafting him at #1 would be a mistake. A no brainer, really.

2. Ricky Rubio – There have been some recent rumblings as to his readiness for the NBA, but his passing ability and court vision is absurd. There is still a chance he could flop, but he is well worth the risk.

3. James Harden - The Wolves have long needed an athletic 2 who can create his own shot. Harden is a hard-nosed player with nice tools and a high basketball IQ who would fit well with our system. With his tournament performance, look for shortsighted GM’s to let him slip to us at 5.

4. Hasheem Thabeet - It honestly pains me to put him here. But size and defensive potential are such glaring weaknesses in our front court that I would not be opposed to taking him at 5 or 6. It is likely he could be the best player available at that spot.

5. DeMar DeRozan - Athletic 2 with gobs of potential. A year in college surely did wonders for him. If he ended up with us I wouldn’t jump for joy by any means, but think he would be a solid choice at 6 or 7.


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