For the teams that win the NBA draft lottery, they have fond memories of watching the ping-pong balls bounce in their favor so they get the opportunity to select the top player on the board with the No.1 overall pick.
But what about the losers in the lottery?
What about the teams who never got lucky enough to see their fortunes change almost overnight?
Since 1985, when the draft lottery was first instituted, there have been as many big losers as there have been winners.
Here’s a quick look at the top 10 losers in NBA draft lottery history.
10. 2010 New Jersey Nets
The Nets had the best odds to win the lottery after finishing the regular season with a dismal 12-70 record, yet they had to settle for the No. 3 pick, as the Washington Wizards ended up stealing the No. 1 overall pick despite only having the fifth-best odds at doing so.
The prize turned out to be point guard John Wall. Had the Nets won that lottery, they likely don’t make a trade for Deron Williams, whom they risk losing to free agency this offseason.
9. 2009 Sacramento Kings/Washington Wizards
The Kings and Wizards were both in search of a quality power forward and had the two best odds at winning the right to draft Oklahoma’s Blake Griffin, but it turned out to be the Los Angeles Clippers who won that right, with the third-best odds to do so.
Had they not won the 2009 lottery, where would Chris Paul be playing at these days? I doubt it would be for the Clippers.
8. 2008 Miami Heat
The Heat finished the 2008 season with a 15-61 record and the best chances at claiming the top pick, but ultimately they got the second pick and drafted Michael Beasley, who didn’t last long in a Miami uniform.
The Chicago Bulls had only the ninth-best odds to win, and luck was on their side, as they were able to draft Derrick Rose.
This only ranks No. 8 because we all know how well the Heat ended up, but if they win that lottery, what are the chances that LeBron James takes his talents to South Beach?
7. 1991 Denver Nuggets
The Nuggets finished the 1991 season with an NBA-worst 20-62 record, but finished with the No. 4 pick as the Charlotte Hornets moved up from the No. 5 spot to select UNLV’s Larry Johnson.
Johnson turned in a solid 10-year career in which he averaged 16.2 points and 7.5 rebounds for Charlotte and the New York Knicks. It wasn’t a total loss for the Nuggets, though, as they did come out with Dikembe Mutombo with that No. 4 pick.
6. 1993 Dallas Mavericks
The Mavs were miserable in 1993, finishing with an 11-71 record but found themselves drafting No. 4, as the Orlando Magic made the biggest jump in lottery history, moving all the way to the top despite having the worst odds to do so.
The Magic ended up selecting Chris Webber, who was eventually traded for Penny Hardaway on draft night.
Dallas drafted Jamal Mashburn, who turned in a decent NBA career, but nothing like Webber orHardaway in their prime.
5. 1987 Los Angeles Clippers
This gets added to the long list of bad luck for the Clippers franchise, as they won only 12 games in 1987, but it was the San Antonio Spurs who climbed up to draft David Robinson.
The Clippers picked No. 4 that year and took Georgetown’s Reggie Williams.
4. 1996 Vancouver Grizzlies
Long before moving to Memphis, the Grizzlies had the best chance of winning the right to draft Allen Iverson after a 15-67 season in 1996.
They weren’t that lucky, as they ended up with Shareef Abdur-Rahim at No. 3. The Philadelphia 76ers ended up drafting the future Hall of Famer.
3. 1992 Minnesota Timberwolves
How would the NBA world have been different if the Wolves would have won the 1992 lottery?
They had the best odds after finishing the season 15-67, but it was the Orlando Magic who won the right to select LSU’s Shaquille O’Neal.
Instead of Shaq, Minnesota had to settle for Christian Laettner at No. 3.
2. 1985 Indiana Pacers
The very first draft lottery featured a big prize in Georgetown’s Patrick Ewing, and while the Pacers finished with the worst record in the NBA that season, it was the New York Knicks who won the right to select Ewing.
The prize for Indiana at No. 2 turned out to be Oklahoma’s Wayman Tisdale.
1. 1997 Vancouver Grizzlies/Boston Celtics
The Grizzlies finished with an NBA-worst record of 14-68 in 1997, and the Celtics weren’t far behind at 15-67. In fact, Boston actually had two chances at winning the top pick, but things didn’t quite work out well for either franchise.
The San Antonio Spurs won that lottery and drafted Tim Duncan, who became the centerpiece for four championships.
Vancouver had to settle for Antonio Daniels at No. 4, while the Celtics ended up with Chauncey Billups at No. 3 and Ron Mercer at No. 6.