Tonight, the Mavericks will find out just how lucky they are.

The NBA Draft Lottery takes place tonight at 7 p.m. Central and will be televised on ESPN and streamed on WatchESPN. Dallas has the ninth-best odds at winning the lottery, with a modest 1.7 percent chance at taking home the No. 1 pick. But while the first overall pick is the top prize, there are several other possible outcomes tonight.

First, a brief primer on how the lottery works. Each of the 14 teams that did not qualify for the playoffs is eligible for the draw. One thousand four-number combinations were assigned to lottery teams, with the amount of combinations given to teams based on inverse order of their regular-season record. Eight teams finished with a worse record than the Mavericks, so Dallas will have the ninth-best odds of winning.

Fourteen ping pong balls numbered 1-14 are placed into a machine and the numbers are then drawn at random. The resulting four-digit combination represents the No. 1 overall pick in the draft, and the team which was given the corresponding combo earns that top spot. (See the video above for a visual example.) The Brooklyn Nets finished with the worst record this season and have the highest odds of winning the No. 1 pick at 25.0 percent (250 combinations), but the Boston Celtics hold the rights to that pick via a 2013 trade involving Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, and former Maverick Jason Terry.

Then, a drawing takes place for the No. 2 pick, followed by the No. 3 pick. Only three combinations are drawn, and the remaining 11 teams who did not win a top-3 pick are slotted 4-14 in the draft order, again based on inverse order of regular-season record.

That means the Mavericks can only win a certain number of picks. Dallas has heavy odds to earn the ninth pick, but can also win 1-3 or 10-12. Below are the club’s complete odds at landing each possible pick.

Draft Pick Mavs’ Odds
1st 1.70%
2nd 2.00%
3rd 2.41%
9th 81.31%
10th 12.20%
11th 0.38%
12th 0.002%

Michael Finley will represent the club on stage at the lottery. Hopefully he can bring some luck. NBA deputy commissioner Mark Tatum will announce the lottery results in reverse order, starting with the 14th pick. If you don’t hear Dallas’ name called by No. 9, it means something exciting has happened. Be sure to tune in tonight at 7 to find out.

The Mavericks do not currently have a second-round pick in the draft. The club’s second-rounder went to Philadelphia as part of the trade which brought Nerlens Noel to Dallas this season.

The last time the Mavericks were in the lottery was 2013, when the club at the 13th-best odds at the No. 1 pick. Dallas eventually selected point guard Shane Larkin, who was traded to the New York Knicks after his rookie season as part of the deal that brought Tyson Chandler and Raymond Felton to Dallas.

Want to know more about the top prospects? Check out some of my favorite sites for draft coverage, including DraftExpress, The Ringer, and ESPN. Each of these sites (and many more) have mock drafts and detailed profiles of all the draft-eligible players.

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