The NBA Draft Lottery is tonight (5 pm PST on ESPN).  And just like last year, the Sacramento Kings have the fifth-best odds of winning the right to choose first.  However, the lottery has not been kind to the Kings in the last three years.

In 2009, Sacramento owned the league’s worst-record, but finished just outside of the top three with the fourth overall pick.  In 2010, the Kings possessed the third-best odds of winning the league’s top pick only to fall two spots to no. 5.  And last year, Sacramento dropped down to pick no. 7 after possessing the same odds as this season.

But, history tells us that being slotted fifth is a good place under the current lottery system.  Since the NBA adopted its current lottery format in 1994, teams with the fifth-best odds have won the right to pick first four times.  By comparison, the team with the worst regular-season record has won the draft lottery just three times.

History of having fifth-worst record vs. actual lottery Order (Since 1994)

  • 1994: No movement
  • 1995: Moved up to 1st pick (Golden State Warriors selected Joe Smith)
  • 1996: No movement
  • 1997: Moved up to 2nd pick
  • 1998: Moved up to 2nd pick
  • 1999: Moved down to 6th pick
  • 2000: Moved down to 6th pick
  • 2001: Moved up to 3rd pick
  • 2002: Moved up to 1st pick (Houston Rockets selected Yao Ming)
  • 2003: Moved down to 6th pick
  • 2004: Moved down to 6th pick because of league expansion
  • 2005: Moved up to 3rd pick
  • 2006: Moved up to 1st pick (Toronto Raptors selected Andrea Bargnani)
  • 2007: Moved up to 2nd pick
  • 2008: Moved down to 6th pick
  • 2009: Moved down to 6th pick
  • 2010: Moved up to 1st pick (Washington Wizards selected John Wall)
  • 2011: Moved down to 7th pick

More Kings lottery facts and stats

  • The Kings have won the draft lottery only once (1989, when they moved up with the seventh-best odds to eventually select Pervis Ellison from Louisville).
  • The Kings are in the lottery for a sixth consecutive season, which is the longest active streak of any team in the NBA.
  • The Kings are tied all-time in lottery selections made with the Minnesota Timberwolves (16).  Only the Golden State Warriors (19) and the Los Angeles Clippers (22) have more.
  • Tonight, the Kings have a 25.5 percent chance of landing a top-three pick and a 16 percent chance of landing a top-two pick.

A few notes on the above chart…

  • The Kings have a 7.6 percent chance of winning the top pick.
  • They’re just as likely to land the third pick (9.46 percent) as they are to land the seventh pick (9.36 percent).
  • They’re more likely to move down to the sixth pick (38.48 percent) than stay in the fifth position (26.24).
All-Time Kings’ Lottery Projections vs. Actual Order
YearProjectionResultDrafted
19856th6thJoe Kleine
19876th6thKenny Smith
19884th6thRights owned by Clippers
19897th1stPervis Ellison
19906th7thLionel Simmons
19913rd3rdBilly Owens
19926th7thWalt Williams
19934th7thBobby Hurley
19948th8thBrian Grant
199511th13th*Corliss Wiliamson
199711th11thTariq Abdul-Wahad
19987th7thJason Williams
200710th10thSpencer Hawes
200812th12thJason Thompson
20091st4thTyreke Evans
20103rd5thDeMarcus Cousins
20115th7thBismack Biyombo

*Moved down due to league expansion.

Statistical and factual support provided by NBA.com and ESPN Stats & Information.