Beating the NBA Draft Lottery Odds
1993 Orlando Magic
No team beat the odds quite like the 1993 Magic, who, after barely missing the playoffs at 41-41, made good on their 1.5% chance (1 Ping-Pong ball out of 66) to claim the top spot for the second consecutive season (they had snagged Shaquille O'Neal in '92). Orlando wound up selecting Chris Webber and trading him to Golden State for third overall pick Penny Hardaway and three first-round picks. Two years later, Shaq and Penny led the Magic to the NBA Finals.
1995 Golden State Warriors
After the Warriors delivered on their 9.4% chance, then-general manager Dave Twardzik said, ''Whoever you take, some people are going to say, 'How could pass on this [other] guy?' '' Twardzik experienced the second-guessing first-hand: The Warriors chose forward Joe Smith while the rest of the top five was Antonio McDyess, Jerry Stackhouse, Rasheed Wallace and Kevin Garnett. Smith went on to play for 12 different NBA teams over 15 years, never once named an All-Star.
2000 New Jersey Nets
Pegged to draft seventh after a 31-51 season, the Nets instead cashed in on their 4.4% chance of winning the lottery. New Jersey picked forward Kenyon Martin, who proved to be a key part of back-to-back Finals teams in 2002-03 before being shipped to Denver as part of a sign-and-trade deal in 2004.
2002 Houston Rockets
An 8.9% chance was enough for the Rockets to leapfrog four teams and win the Yao Ming sweepstakes. Yao was productive when healthy, but the healthy part didn't happen nearly as much as Houston would have hoped. The 7-6 center retired in July 2011 after nine seasons in which he averaged 19 points, 9.2 rebounds and 1.9 blocks.
2005 Milwaukee Bucks
The Bucks, with a 6.3% chance, jumped from sixth to first and selected center Andrew Bogut ahead of point guards Chris Paul and Deron Williams. Bogut spent seven years with the Bucks, where he led the league with 2.6 blocks in 2010-11, before being traded to Golden State in 2012.
2006 Toronto Raptors
General manager Bryan Colangelo entered his first draft in Toronto with the biggest prize after the Raptors vaulted to the top despite only an 8.8% likelihood. The Raptors used the choice to make Italy's Andrea Bargnani the NBA's first European No. 1 pick. Bargnani averaged a career-high 21.4 points in 2010-11 and followed that with 19.5 points in an injury-shortened 2011-12, but he's been criticized for his defense and rebounding. In 2013 Bargnani was traded to the Knicks, where injuries have kept him off the court more often than not. The Nets signed Bargnani to a multi-year contract in 2015, only to waive him in Feb. 2016.
2007 Portland Trail Blazers
While the teams with the three worst records — Memphis, Boston and Milwaukee — got the fourth, fifth and six picks, Portland won the lottery with its 5.3% chance. The windfall didn't pay off, however, as the Trail Blazers passed on Kevin Durant in favor of Greg Oden, who played only 82 regular-season games over his first five seasons because of persistent knee injuries. The Blazers waived Oden in March 2012 and after a brief stint with Miami two years later, Oden hasn't played since.
2008 Chicago Bulls
The Bulls turned their 1.7% chance into the first pick. Chicago selected native Derrick Rose, who was the 2008-09 Rookie of the Year, the league MVP in 2010-11 and a three-time All-Star. Since May 2012, however, Rose has undergone three knee surgeries which have caused him to miss a significant amount of time.
2011 Cleveland Cavaliers
The Cavaliers used the pick obtained in a trade with the Clippers to win the No. 1 pick despite just 2.8% odds. That put them in position to draft Duke point guard Kyrie Irving, who turned into the Rookie of the Year and the centerpiece of their post-LeBron rebuilding effort. The 2013, '14 and '15 All-Star was given some help entering the 2014-15 season with the signing of free agent LeBron James.
2014 Cleveland Cavaliers
Eight teams had better odds than the Cavaliers, who lucked out yet again with just a 1.7% chance this time. Their selection of Andrew Wiggins parlayed into a trade with Minnesota to acquire Kevin Love two months later. Wiggins went on to win Rookie of the Year with the Timberwolves while Love's numbers dipped with the Cavs and he suffered a dislocated shoulder in the team's 2015 first-round sweep of the Celtics.