From the very first WNBA attendance data set, the Across the Timeline mission has been to pull together and make public WNBA (and more generally, women’s basketball) data that’s difficult to find and/or scattered.
Today it’s time for something new, and while we’re fully invested in the WNBA Finals, another big WNBA event still to come this year (presumably) is the Draft Lottery.
Since 2002, the Draft Lottery has been held to determine the first-round draft order for the prior year’s non-playoff teams. Some process minutiae has changed over the years to take some steam out of “tanking” and grant some relief to the worst team, but the basic structure of teams being assigned odds at getting the No. 1 pick based on their recent regular season results is mostly the same.
Now, that Draft Lottery data is all available:
Draft Lottery Data Set
The full data set is here and can be explored in several different ways:
- By draft year: Filter by Draft Year and then select a draft year to see the relevant teams and lottery odds for that draft
- By franchise: Filter by Franchise and then select a WNBA franchise to see their lottery positions for that draft
- By original pick owner: At times a lottery pick changes hands prior to the lottery (for instance, Dallas already has Los Angeles’ 2022 lottery pick), so you can filter instead by Original Pick Owner to see who originally had that pick
- By pick: Filter by Pick and then select a draft pick number to see the corresponding lottery data
Some notes on the data and some history, to boot:
- The Team listed for each data point is intended to be the team that held the rights to that pick at the time of the lottery. The pick can change teams prior to that and after that, and that has happened many times.
- Several years had some interesting draft lottery circumstances occur, particularly when franchises folded between the lottery and the draft itself. When that’s true, when you’re filtered by Draft Year you will see notes below the table of lottery odds with additional specific information.
- Many times lottery picks have been traded after the draft lottery, so the actual picks (player and team) are noted as well. If you are looking for full history of any of these picks, check out the full WNBA Draft database, where the orange team text is clickable to get a full trade trail.
- 2003 is still a little incomplete. It’s known that the Detroit Shock had 541/1,000 odds total, but that number comprises both their own odds (for having the worst record in 2002) and that of the Orlando Miracle, who traded the Shock their lottery pick. That was a particularly tumultuous time in the WNBA, as CBA negotiations were ongoing, and the Miami Sol and Portland Fire (both lottery teams) had folded after the 2002 season. Both Portland and Miami should have had a pick of their own in this lottery, and Miami also had a lottery pick from Minnesota. Additionally, both the draft lottery and the draft itself were handled very quickly after the CBA was finalized, which likely contributed to the lack of clear, public data on this particular lottery. The relative data for this year is available, but work is still in progress to track down a source for those exact figures.
- There are multiple years that had lottery picks shuffled around due to folding teams, but 2008 is unique in the opposite direction. In 2006, the Chicago Sky were given the first pick outside the lottery (No. 6), but in 2008, the league decided to grant the expansion Atlanta Dream the No. 4 pick, working out the rest of the lottery around them.
Draft Lottery Simulator
Alongside the data set, also available is the WNBA Draft Lottery Simulator. This is always running against the latest draft where lottery odds are available.
Press Start and the simulator will guide you through a step-by-step simulation of the draft lottery. It can be fun to see how the simulation treats your favorite team (if applicable), and it can also help spell out exactly how the process works if you’re interested in the detail. I’ve tweeted specifics on the numbers behind it, if you’re interested.
That’s it for today. Happy WNBA Finals Game 2!