I have been doing some research in response to a question by Esco33 over on Celtics Green and found some surprising results.
The Lottery was instituted in 1985 and all 7 non playoff teams had an equal chance to win. Then in 1987 they only decided the 1st 3 by the lottery. In 1990 they went to the weighted lottery that we have today with all non playoff teams in the lottery and the worst teams having more chances than the better ones.
If you go back to 1987, here are the results. Record (# of first picks) Worst (3) 2 (3) 3 (6) 4 (2) 5 (3) 6 (2) 7 (1) 8 (0) 9 (0) 10 (0) 11 (1)
Now just going from the 1990 when the current weighted lottery was begun Record (#of 1st picks) Worst (2) 2 (3) 3 (4) 4 (2) 5 (2) 6 (2) 7 (1) 8 (0) 9 (0) 10 (0) 11 (1)
Orlando is by far the luckiest team with 3 first round picks since 1990 winning with the worst record, the 2nd worst record and the 11th worst record. The Celtics have never won the Lottery in spite of having the worst record back in 1997 when the team with the 3rd worst record beat us out and won it.
It seems that the best spot to be in is to have the 3rd worst record as the team with the 3rd worst record has won a whopping 6 times since 1985 and 4 times since the weighted lottery was instituted.
On the other hand, the team with the worst record has only won the lottery 3 times since 1985 and only twice in the weighted lottery.
So, those who are disheartened by the return of Pierce and the wins that may result, all is not lost. Having the most ping pong balls doesn't mean you will win the lottery. In fact, we should be working on a few wins to move into 3rd place.