Who’s No. 1? For NBA’s worst, that is the question

Welcome to the NBA Draft Lottery, where the worst in the world get their day in the sun.

Actually, that’s not entirely fair. The Milwaukee Bucks aren’t the worst in the world — just in pro basketball. And while the Bucks have the greatest odds of winning Tuesday night’s event, their shot to land the No. 1 overall pick is really somewhat long.

After all, the team with the worst record hasn’t won the thing in a decade (Orlando Magic, 2004). So when it comes to the playing the lottery, there really is no winning. It’s more like various degrees of losing.

That’s why the hype surrounding this occasion is fairly remarkable. Fourteen teams, all of which missed the playoffs, are treated like NBA royalty. They get their own show, their own buzz, their own night of Finals-like anticipation. Former commissioner David Stern truly deserves credit for all of it. He found a way to place the league’s ugly ducklings at center stage.

That’s some serious marketing know-how right there, folks.

So the lottery is here, and for one night, 14 teams have hope. When you’re left out of the postseason, that’s about all you can bank on: The idea that a ping-pong ball can make you completely relevant once again.

With such promise in mind, here’s a quick breakdown of all things lottery:

* As stated, the Bucks have the best chance to win the No. 1 overall pick at 25 percent. The Philadelphia 76ers (19.9 percent) are next, followed by the Magic (15.6) and Utah Jazz (10.4). The Boston Celtics round out the top five with a 10.3 percent chance.

* The Suns, who barely missed the playoffs, have the worst odds at 0.5 percent.

* As an aside, this is the first time in lottery history that the Sixers, Celtics, Los Angeles Lakers (6.3 percent chance of winning) and New York Knicks (0.7) have all been participants at the same time.

* Of course, the Knicks don’t to keep their pick. It goes to the Denver Nuggets as part of the Carmelo Anthony trade in 2011. The Nuggets also have their own lottery pick — which has a 0.8 percent shot at winning.

 

* Teams making a return to the lottery from last season: The Sacramento Kings (4.3 percent odds), Detroit Pistons (2.8), Cleveland Cavaliers (1.7), New Orleans Pelicans (1.1), Timberwolves, Celtics, Sixers, Magic, Suns, Kings and Jazz. Basically, the lottery offers no magic bullet.

* The lottery is held at Times Squares Studios in New York. Fourteen ping-pong balls, numbered 1 through 14, will be placed in a drum. There are 1,001 possible combinations when four balls are drawn out of 14, without regard to order of selection. Prior to the lottery, 1,000 of those 1,001 combinations will be assigned to the 14 lottery teams.

* The actual lottery will take place in a separate room just prior to the national broadcast in front of NBA officials, team representatives, select members of the media, as well as representatives of the accounting firm of Ernst & Young in attendance.

* After the drawing, team logo cards will be inserted into envelopes marked 1 through 14 by an Ernst & Young representative. The envelopes then will be sealed and brought on-stage, where the results will be announced by deputy commissioner Mark Tatum. A second representative from each participating team will be seated on-stage. Neither Tatum nor the team representatives will be informed of the results prior to the opening of the envelopes.

* This is the 30th draft lottery.