The following is everything that you wanted to know about tonight's Draft Lottery, but were afraid to ask...
How does this thing work?
14 numbered ping-pong balls are loaded into a standard lottery machine, and from those 14, a combination of four balls is selected. Each of the 14 lottery teams is assigned a certain number of possible combinations based on their record from the previous season.
The 20-62 Orlando Magic had the worst record this year, so they will be assigned 250 out of the 1,000 possible combinations (actually, there are 1,001 possible combinations, but the NBA ignores 11-12-13-14 because... basketball reasons). The Sixers, meanwhile, will be assigned eight out of the 1,000 combinations. They could have had twice as many had they lost four more games, so blame Doug Collins and/or Damien Wilkins at your leisure.
Four-ball combinations are pulled out of the hopper until each of the first three selections is assigned, and after that, the rest of the lottery picks are given out based on record.
Why does the NBA hold a lottery? Why don't they just assign all of the picks based on record?
It's to prevent teams from purposely tanking (or panking, as some would call it) in order to get the No. 1 pick. Of course, this doesn't prevent teams from losing in order to improve their odds, but a certain franchise that shall remain nameless refused to do that this season for a reason called PRIDE.
So... the Sixers can't really win this thing, can they?
Probably not. Under the current system, no team with odds as bad as the Sixers has ever won the whole thing. However, the last time the draft lottery was held in New York City (1993), the Orlando Magic went from 11th to 1st. So there's that.
So you're saying there's a chance?
Sure. The Sixers have a 0.8 percent chance at the No. 1 pick, a 0.95 percent chance at the No. 2 pick and a 1.15 chance that they'll wind up at No. 3. There's also a 90.7 percent chance that they'll stay right at No. 11, and a 6.5 percent chance that they'll actually fall back to either 12, 13 or 14. Welcome to Philadelphia, Kelly Olynyk.
Who will be representing the Sixers in New York?
While other teams are sending guys like Brad Beal, Damian Lillard and Kevin Love, the Sixers will be represented the dynamic duo of Adam Aron and Josh Harris. Personally, I'd send Sonny Hill and/or one of World B. Free's suits, but it's not my call. In case you missed it, we debated the different possibilities here.
I've heard that the lottery is rigged in order to favor certain teams. Is that true?
Nope. Many people (read: the newly unemployed David Kahn) think that it is in light of the whole Patrick Ewing fiasco in 1985. But small-market teams win just as often as large-market franchises, so it seems as if everything is on the up-and-up.
However, if the New York Knicks miss the playoffs in 2013-14 and somehow wind up with Andrew Wiggins, then we may need to revisit this question next year.