From left: Baylor's Odyssey Sims, Maryland's Alyssa Thomas and Stanford's Chiney Ogwumike are in the mix of top prospects in the 2014 WNBA Draft. (Photos courtesy Baylor University, Maryland Athletics, Don Feria/
From left: Baylor's Odyssey Sims, Maryland's Alyssa Thomas and Stanford's Chiney Ogwumike are in the mix of top prospects in the 2014 WNBA Draft. (Photos courtesy Baylor University, Maryland Athletics, Don Feria/

2014 WNBA Draft Lottery slated to be held next week

December 3, 2013 - 12:40pm

The 2014 WNBA Draft Lottery will be held in Seacaucus, N.J., on Tuesday, Dec. 10, at 4:30 p.m. EST, the league announced today. The four bottom finishers from the 2013 WNBA season -- i.e., the New York Liberty (11-23) and the Connecticut Sun (10-24) from the Eastern Conference and the Tulsa Shock (11-23) and the San Antonio Silver Stars (12-22) from the West -- will participate in hopes of securing the top pick in next spring's WNBA Draft.

For the second year in a row, the Draft Lottery, which determines the order of the top four picks, will be televised live on ESPN, although the fanfare surrounding this year's draft does not approach 2013, when Brittney Griner (Baylor/Phoenix Mercury), Elena Delle Donne (Delaware/Chicago Sky) and Skylar Diggins (Notre Dame/Tulsa Shock), all believed to be potential game-changers, were all up for grabs. There should be no shortage of talent on offer in the 2014 Draft, however, which is likely to be headlined by players such as Stanford post Chiney Ogwumike, Baylor field general Odyssey Sims and Maryland forward Alyssa Thomas. Notre Dame guard Kayla McBride, Connecticut center Stefanie Dolson, Penn State sharpshooter Maggie Lucas, Duke point guard Chelsea Gray and Middle Tennessee forward Ebony Rowe are among other players regarded as likely to go early in the upcoming draft.

WNBA officials and a representative of the accounting firm Ernst & Young will conduct the lottery by placing balls, numbered 1 through 14, in a lottery machine and withdrawing four at random to determine a numerical combination consisting of four integers without regard to the order in which the balls were selected. (For example, if the balls 1, 2, 3 and 4 are selected, it makes no difference whether they were picked in the sequence 1-2-3-4 or 4-3-2-1 or any other possible combination of those four digits.) According to the league, there are 1,001 possible numerical combinations that can be formed in this fashion.

Prior to the lottery, each of the four participation will have been assigned a percentage (see below) of those possible combinations, based on its 2013 record. (To make the arithmetic work, one possible combination is left unassigned; in the unlikely event that particular combination is selected, the balls are put back in the machine and the process repeated until an assigned combination is drawn.) The team that has been assigned the first combination selected gets the first pick and so forth. After the first three combinations have been, the remaining team participating in the lottery is assigned the fourth draft pick. The remainder of the draft is conducted in inverse order of the teams' 2013 regular-season records.

Under this system, Connecticut, with 44.2 percent of the assigned combinations, will have the best chance of landing the top pick, San Antonio (10.4 percent) the worst, with New York and Tulsa sandwiched in the middle with 22.7 percent of the assigned combinations apiece. But only once in the 12-year history of the WNBA Draft Lottery to date have the odds actually prevailed. In 2009, the Atlanta Dream entered the lottery with the most chances to win, the Washington Mystics the second most, and the Chicago Sky the third most and came away with, in order, the first, second and third selections.

Twice, the team who entered the lottery with the worst chance of winning came away with the top pick. The Phoenix Mercury was the first to do so, winning the lottery for the 2007 Draft. The Los Angeles Sparks also overcame the longest odds and earned the No. 1 pick in the 2012 Draft. Phoenix used its No. 1 overall pick in 2007 to take Lindsey Harding of Duke; Los Angeles used its No. 1 selection in 2012 on Nneka Ogwumike of Stanford.

Phoenix evoked controversy last year when, after being accused by some of "tanking" the 2012 season in order to improve its chances in the 2013 draft, it entered the lottery with the second-worst record (7-27) but came away with the top in No. 1 draft pick Brittney Griner. At the same time, the Washington Mystics, who had endured a string of disappointing seasons and entered the lottery with the best chance (44.2 percent) of winning based on its league-worst 5-29 2012 record, finished dead last. The Mystics may have gotten the last laugh, however, after new coach and GM Mike Thibault used the fourth pick to draft Tayler Hill (Ohio State) and made a remarkable improvement in 2013, rising from the league's basement to a tie for second place in the East with a 17-17 record.

The following are the number of chances for teams in the 2014 WNBA Draft Lottery:
        Team                                                                    Record        Chances (out of 1,000)
1.      Connecticut                                                         10-24           442
2.      New York                                                             11-23           227
3.      Tulsa                                                                    11-23           227
4.      San Antonio                                                         12-22           104
Following is the remaining order of the first round, as determined by 2013 regular-season records:
        Team                                                                                                      Record      
5.     Indiana                                                                                                   16-18
6.     Washington                                                                                            17-17
7.     Seattle                                                                                                    17-17
8.      Atlanta                                                                                                   17-17
9.     Phoenix                                                                                                  19-15
10.   Chicago                                                                                                  24-10
11.   Los Angeles                                                                                            24-10
12.   Minnesota                                                                                               26-8           

Source:  Substantial portions of this story were drawn from a WNBA press release.