Stepping away from the world of the Web today for a moment…

I am not a big NBA fan, but I nonetheless take a moment every spring to watch the NBA Draft Lottery.  Why?  It's so fascinatingly convoluted, nobody can understand it.  I mean, it isn't like the team with the worst record *ever* gets the top pick of the draft.  And if you look at the probability chart on Wikipedia, you'll notice that the worst team in the league has the best chance of drafting….<drum roll please>



Let's look deeper into the #s for another statistical anomaly or two… outcomes.

In 1993, the Orlando Magic beat their 1.5% odds to win the #1 pick of the draft.  It was the second straight year that they won the first overall pick.  Odds imply that a team with a 1.5% chance of winning should do so every 66 years.

Then Tuesday night, the Chicago Bulls took the #1 overall pick despite having a 1.7% chance.  Odds imply that this should happen every 59 years.

Now let's look at the performance of the worst team in the draft.  Odds are that the worst team will get the #1 overall pick 25% of the time, or every 4 years.  But reality has been different — since the current lottery was initiated, the worst team has won the lottery only 3 times out of 19 drafts for a 15.8% clip.

So I ask you… do these numbers seem a little fishy to you?  Is the Draft Lottery optimized around the right set of outcomes?  Or are they just happy that I'm watching?  ;-)