The NBA Draft Lottery airs Thursday on ESPN, but it won’t matter much for Sixers fans.
The Sixers, facing off against the Boston Celtics in the Eastern Conference playoffs, have no shot at landing a lottery pick Thursday. Instead, they own the No. 21 pick in the 2020 NBA Draft, scheduled to take place on Oct. 16.
As my colleague Keith Pompey reported earlier this week, it was the best-case scenario for the Sixers, who benefited from the Oklahoma City Thunder winning a three-team tiebreaker with the Houston Rockets and Utah Jazz.
The Sixers acquired the Thunder’s pick as part of a 2019 trade involving Markelle Fultz, and could have easily ended up as second-round selections in the 2022 and 2023 NBA Drafts if the Thunder hadn’t defeated the Miami Heat last week.
As far as the lottery is concerned, this will be the second year the NBA uses a new system to flatten the odds of landing a top first-round pick, an attempt to discourage teams like the Sixers from “tanking” to garner a better selection.
Basically, the three teams with the worst records (this year it’s the Golden State Warriors, Cleveland Cavaliers, and Minnesota Timberwolves) each have a 14% chance of landing the top pick. Previously, the league’s worst team had a 25% shot at landing the first pick.
ESPN has also decided to keep the show to just 30 minutes, after an hour-long program in 2018 drew the lowest television ratings in a decade (and angered fans forced to wait 40 minutes before a single pick was revealed). The NBA Draft Lottery drew 4.42 million viewers for ESPN last year, a 16-year high, according to Sports Media Watch.
Here’s everything you need to know to watch or stream the 2020 NBA Draft Lottery:
ESPN’s coverage of the NBA Draft Lottery will begin around 8:30 p.m., immediately after Game 2 of a Western Conference playoff match-up between the Oklahoma City Thunder and the Houston Rockets.
Coverage will be hosted by Rachel Nichols, who will be joined remotely by NBA analysts Jay Bilas and Jay Williams. Senior NBA insider Adrian Wojnarowski will also join the broadcast from inside the NBA’s bubble at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex in Lake Buena Vista, Fla.
Following the NBA Draft Lottery, ESPN will air Game 2 of another Western Conference playoff match-up between LeBron James’ Los Angeles Lakers and the Portland Trail Blazers.