It's hard to believe the lottery ball system has been in place for about 24 years now. It was implemented all the way back in 1990 to help curtail "tanking". Love it or hate it, the lottery ball system has had some very interesting outcomes for the teams involved.
I always wondered how many times the team with the worst record has actually "won" the lottery and luckily I came across an article by SBNation's Kevin Zimmerman that provided the answer. Here's the excerpt from his article:
The history of the lottery
- The worst team has won the NBA Draft Lottery three times in 23 tries.
- The third-worst and fifth-worst teams have won the lottery the most times (five) in the lottery era. The Cavaliers select third and the Pelicans pick fifth this year.
- The team with the least likely odds to win the NBA Draft Lottery was the 1993 Orlando Magic, who had the 11th-best chance to win. The seventh-, eighth- and ninth-worst teams have all won the lottery once since 1990.
Team by record # of wins (since 1990) Worst 3 2nd-worst 4 3rd-worst 5 4th-worst 0 5th-worst 5 6th-worst 2 7th-worst 1 8th-worst 1 9th-worst 1 10th-worst 0 11th-worst 1 12th-worst 0 13th-worst 0 14th-worst 0
Kevin's article was written last year. Cleveland of course won last year's lottery having the 3rd worst record in the league at the time. So that brings the 3rd worst total to 6.
That's the luck of the lottery balls for you. You don't have to be the worst to win. Is this the year the Celtics get lucky? We'll have to wait and see.