Did you know the NBA Draft Lottery is rigged? The internet certainly does. You can find a theory to support the rigging of almost any lottery with nothing more than a few minutes of Googling. Conspiracies arise when big-market teams win it, and when small-market teams win it. Both iterations of the New Orleans professional basketball team won it, and naturally, both the Hornets and the Pelicans were given the conspiracy treatment by Twitter’s crack team of crackpots. When teams don’t win, fans immediately assume that the league has plotted against them. 

And hey, maybe the NBA could do a better job of nipping these theories in the bud. It’s not a great look when, say, Dikembe Mutombo congratulates a team for winning a lottery that hasn’t happened yet, but optics rarely align perfectly with reality. The truth is that rigging the NBA Draft Lottery would be nearly impossible. Aside from constituting criminal fraud, all 14 teams in the running have representatives on site for the lottery drawing. Media is present as well, and the drawing is filmed. 

And then there’s the matter of quieting those involved. Overcoming those obstacles would require the cooperation of, at a minimum, several league executives, on-site security, and the mechanics involved in operating the lottery machine. Adam Silver may never reveal his part in a potential rigging, but we’re now 35 years into this endeavor and no engineers or security guards have come forward either. They have far less to lose and much more to gain by revealing an illicit truth, but they haven’t, because there isn’t one. The NBA Draft Lottery is legitimate. 

But that won’t stop internet detectives from claiming otherwise, so why treat such illogical conclusions with a logical response? You can’t directly tell anyone who honestly believes that the lottery is rigged that it isn’t because they have long since rejected the mountains of evidence proving them wrong. 

So instead, let’s take a different route. To prove that conspiracy theories will arise no matter who wins the lottery, let’s preemptively find the excuses those theorists will use when it happens. Some of them will be repetitive. Others will contradict one another. These are conspiracies we’re dealing with. They aren’t supposed to make sense. What it does is that, when a lottery winner is named and the accusations start flying, you’ll be able to refer back to this guide and find the explanations the doubters are using and prove how ridiculous they sound. You can find a reason to say that the NBA Draft Lottery is rigged for anyone, and I’ll prove it. 

Golden State Warriors

“The NBA is just helping a big-market team like they always do!”

“The NBA wants the ratings boost of another LeBron James vs. Stephen Curry series so they’re helping the Warriors back on top!”

“The NBA needs to help the Warriors make back the money they’re losing without fans since their TV deal is so bad!”

Cleveland Cavaliers

“The NBA always gives Cleveland the No. 1 pick after LeBron leaves!” 

“The NBA wants LeBron to finish his career with the Cavs so they’re setting them up as future contenders!”

“The NBA wants to help Dan Gilbert prove that the Cavs can win without LeBron!”

Minnesota Timberwolves

“The NBA just wants to make the team more attractive to potential buyers!”

“The NBA wants to give them more assets to trade for Devin Booker and prove that stars can go to small markets!”

“The NBA doesn’t want the Timberwolves handing over a premium pick to the Warriors next season!”

Atlanta Hawks

“The NBA wants to prop Trae Young up as its next big star!”

“The NBA has to give a small-market team the No. 1 pick every few years to throw us off the rigging scent!”

“The NBA wants the Hawks to get the local prospect in Anthony Edwards to boost their ratings and ticket sales!”

Detroit Pistons

“The NBA is embarrassed by the horrible ticket sales at Detroit’s new arena and wants to give them an attraction!”

“The NBA has to give a small-market team the No. 1 pick every few years to throw us off the rigging scent!”

“The NBA wants to make the Pistons a marquee team again after a decade in the dumpster!” 

New York Knicks

“The NBA is helping the big-market Knicks just like they did with Patrick Ewing and the frozen envelope!”

“The NBA wants LaMelo Ball in a big market to try to make LaVar relevant again and boost ratings!”

“Leon Rose is one of the most connected men in basketball. Of course he would know how to rig the lottery!” 

Chicago Bulls

“The NBA wants to make the Bulls a marquee team again after the success of “The Last Dance!'”

“The NBA is helping the big-market Bulls just like they did with Derrick Rose!”

“The NBA is rewarding the Bulls for finally firing GarPax and Boylen!”

Charlotte Hornets

“The NBA wanted to thank Michael Jordan for the huge ratings on ‘The Last Dance!'”

“The NBA has to give a small-market team the No. 1 pick every few years to throw us off the rigging scent!”

“The NBA couldn’t let the Hornets remain irrelevant any longer, it was embarrassing to the league!”

Washington Wizards

“The NBA doesn’t want Bradley Beal to leave for a superteam!”

“The NBA wanted to reward them for coming to the bubble and helping generate TV revenue even without a real chance to make the playoffs!”

“INSERT POLITICIAN THEORIST DISLIKES forced the NBA to make the Wizards good again so he could start going to games!”

Phoenix Suns

“The NBA is apologizing to the Suns for not letting them into the play-in after going 8-0 at Disney!”

“The NBA wants to prop Devin Booker up as its next big star!”

“The NBA wants to give the Suns another try after they missed on Luka Doncic!”

San Antonio Spurs

“The NBA always gives the Spurs the No. 1 pick when they’re in the lottery because they’re the league’s model franchise!”

“The NBA doesn’t want Gregg Popovich to retire with a losing team!”

“The NBA wants LaMelo Ball to go somewhere that will keep his family quiet!”

Sacramento Kings

“The NBA is rewarding the Kings for finally firing Vlade Divac!”

“The NBA is tired of seeing the Kings in the lottery, it’s embarrassing for the league!”

“The NBA has to give a small-market team the No. 1 pick every few years to throw us off the rigging scent!”

New Orleans Pelicans

“The NBA just wants Zion Williamson in the playoffs as quickly as possible!”

“The NBA wants all of the Ball Brothers to play for the same team!”

“The NBA is apologizing to the Pelicans for suspending the season right when they were getting hot!”

Memphis Grizzlies 

“The NBA is apologizing to the Grizzlies for creating the play-in system that knocked them out of the playoffs!”

“The Grizzlies are the only team in the lottery that has never had the No. 1 pick!”

“The NBA wants to help the big-market Celtics by giving them Memphis’ unprotected pick next year!”


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