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    09/07/2011 10:47 PM
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NBA Draft 2011: Minnesota Timberwolves - Odds Draft Is Fixed? [Video Proof?]

There’s been a great deal of talk since the 2011 NBA Draft concerning the futility of the Minnesota Timberwolves improving themselves in the picking order. My friends at ESPN 1100 in Las Vegas asked me to do a statistical analysis of the T’Wolves history in this regard (in preparation for a radio appearance). The findings are quite interesting.

Minnesota has never been awarded the #1 selection, and has never even improved their picking spot; said another way, the Timberwolves could not have done worse in any possible scenario involving the random nature of the NBA Draft lottery.

Findings of the study: Minnesota had a 76.9% chance of being the #1 selection at least once (leaving a 23.1% chance of never doing so). Even more unlucky, the Timberwolves had a 94% of improving at least once in their draft order (leaving only a 6% chance of never doing so) – meaning the odds again Minnesota’s futility are nearly 16 to 1 against.

NBA Draft Assumptions and Facts:

The current draft lottery system was put into place in 1994. In order to be applicable to the present day, the study above spans 1994 to present. Between 1985 and 1989 the lottery teams were not weighted (every team had the same chance at the #1 pick). From 1990 to 1993 the lottery teams were weighted in a different fashion than currently.

2011 was the first year in the modern era that Minnesota actually had the very best chance at the #1 pick (25%). The pick that Cleveland won the 2011 NBA lottery with (traded from the Clippers) had only a 2.8% chance of doing so. The team with the least chance in the lottery each year has only a .5% chance – 50 times worse than the favored team.

For the 2011 season, the study assumed that Minnesota receiving the #1 pick would be an improvement. Here is the math behind the study.

Like any random event, in the short-term some teams will have bad luck just like the T’Wolves have, but statisticians agree there is nothing in the outcomes since 1994 proves corruption or “rigging” by the NBA.

The major conspiracy theorist focus on the 1985 draft – believing the league created a crease/dent in the corner of the New York envelop so the biggest market could get Patrick Ewing, noting that when Stern pulls out the envelope for the first pick he grabs three and then looks down into the hopper at the envelopes before selecting the one that would have the first pick, while never looking down again for any other envelope after the first pick. To be honest, I kind of see what they are saying.

Comment below: Do you believe the NBA Draft Lottery has ever been rigged?

Movie 1985 NBA Draft Lottery – Unedited Footage

  • Straight Outta Vegas ...

RJ Bell is the founder of Pregame.com – a two-time INC. 5000 company, as well as the largest American digital media organization covering Las Vegas news and odds. Pregame is the exclusive odds provider... Read more

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