Picking in the NBA lottery is no easy task. Sure, lottery picks pan out more often that those later in the draft, but selecting among the first 14 picks—or even the top five—doesn’t guarantee a star or even a contributor. Sometimes you get Kevin Durant, sometimes you get Hasheem Thabeet. With the benefit of hindsight, SI.com ranked the 14 teams in this year’s lottery on how successful they’ve been picking in the lottery over the past 15 drafts, dating back to 2000.

By Alex Putterman
June 23, 2015

Picking in the NBA lottery is no easy task. Sure, lottery picks pan out more often that those later in the draft, but selecting among the first 14 picks—or even the top five—doesn’t guarantee a star or even a contributor. Sometimes you get Kevin Durant, sometimes you get Hasheem Thabeet.

Some teams seem to have a knack for deciding among top draft prospects, all with many strengths and a few weaknesses, while others… do not.

With the benefit of hindsight, SI.com ranked the 14 teams in this year’s lottery on how successful they’ve been picking in the lottery over the past 15 drafts, dating back to 2000.

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Here are a few notes before the rankings:

  • We’re including picks acquired in draft-day trades, even if those picks were officially submitted by other teams
  • We’re using Basketball-Reference’s win shares stat to help assess how successful each team has been in the draft. Win shares attempts to provide a catchall measure of how many victories a player contributes to his team. You can read more about the stat here.
  • Because we’re evaluating how good a team is at drafting in the lottery, not how good it is at hanging onto those players once they’re drafted, we’re counting a player’s total career win shares, not just those accumulated for the drafting team.
  • Average win share figures do include recent draft picks, who admittedly haven’t had time to pan out or flop. This is more art than science.
  • With that in mind, win share numbers are not the end-all in these rankings.


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HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
OUT
HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
IN
Eagle (-2)
Birdie (-1)
Bogey (+1)
Double Bogey (+2)