NBA Draft 2021

NBA Draft Lottery: Can Toronto Raptors add to history of teams with low odds winning the No. 1 overall pick?

The 2021 NBA Draft Lottery takes place on Tuesday, June 22 at 8:30 p.m. ET.

While the 14 teams that failed to qualify for the 2021 NBA Playoffs hope that the ping pong balls bounce in their favour to win the No. 1 pick, there are a few teams that have better chances than others. This is the third year of the lottery system in which the teams with the three worst records in the 2020-21 regular season each have a 14.0 percent chance at the top pick.

But it's all about luck.

The chances might not be as great, but the Toronto Raptors are among the next four teams that have a realistic shot at winning the 2021 NBA Draft Lottery. After finishing with a 27-45 record this past season, Toronto has a 7.5 percent chance - or the seventh-best odds - to win the No. 1 pick, which is expected to be used on Oklahoma State's Cade Cunningham regardless of which team wins the lottery.

MORE: Guide to the NBA Draft Lottery | Raptors lottery odds explained

All the Raptors need is a chance, and history would suggest that luck plays a major role in winning the lottery. It is a lottery, after all.

Since the year 2000, seven teams with similar - or worse - odds than the Raptors in 2021 have won the coveted No. 1 overall pick. Here's a look back to show that getting that lucky is, indeed, possible.

Least likely lottery winners since 2000
Year Team Probability (Rank) Selection
2019 New Orleans Pelicans 6.00% (T-7th) Zion Williamson
2014 Cleveland Cavaliers 1.40% (9th) Andrew Wiggins
2011 Los Angeles Clippers (conveyed to Cavaliers) 2.80% (8th) Kyrie Irving
2008 Chicago Bulls 1.70% (9th) Derrick Rose
2007 Portland Trail Blazers 5.30% (6th) Greg Oden
2005 Milwaukee Bucks 6.30% (6th) Andrew Bogut
2000 New Jersey Nets 4.40% (7th) Kenyon Martin

In 2019, the Pelicans finished with an identical record to the Memphis Grizzlies, meaning the seventh-best odds were split to 6.00 percent for each team. Coincidentally, both New Orleans and Memphis moved up, with the Pelicans winning the No. 1 pick to select Williamson and the Grizzlies using the No. 2 pick to take eventual Rookie of the Year Ja Morant.

Last year, the Bulls were owners of the seventh-best odds and won the fourth pick, which was used to select All-Rookie Second Team forward Patrick Williams.

Teams with seventh-best odds since 2019 (new lottery system)
Year Team Top-four probability (Rank) Pick Selection
2020 Chicago Bulls 31.9% (7th) 4 Patrick Williams
2019 New Orleans Pelicans 26.2% (T-7th) 1 Zion Williamson
2019 Memphis Grizzlies 26.2% (T-7th) 2 Ja Morant

So far, the new lottery system has been beneficial for the teams with the seventh-best odds.

As Toronto owns the seventh-best odds in 2021, will this string of luck continue? While the franchise has only owned the No. 1 overall selection once, the Raptors have actually won the NBA Draft Lottery twice.

In 2006, the Raptors won the Draft Lottery with the fifth-best (8.80 percent) odds. In 1996, Toronto won the Draft Lottery with the third-best (15.7 percent) odds but could not select first due to a stipulation that the Raptors and Grizzlies - the two expansion franchises in the 1995-96 season - could not get the No. 1 overall pick during their first three seasons of existence.

With the Raptors' first two lottery wins spaced out by 10 years, perhaps a 15-year break from the last lottery win will bring luck to the franchise. That, coupled with the recent string of luck for teams with the seventh-best odds, makes for a few good omens ahead of the 2021 NBA Draft Lottery.

We'll see how it pans out.

The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA or its clubs.

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