Suwon KT has been the “winner” of the Korean Basketball Association draft for seven years now, with the No. 1 overall pick.
In the last seven drafts, the team has gotten the No. 1 or No. 2 pick every year except 2019, when they got the No. 7 pick.
In 2018, they secured both the No. 1 and No. 2 picks, giving them seven top-two picks in seven years.
KT was awarded the No. 1 overall pick in the 2023 KBL Domestic Rookie Draft Ranking Lottery on Thursday morning at the KBL Center in Gangnam-gu, Seoul.
The KBL conducts the lottery for the first through fourth (top) picks by spinning a total of 200 balls with each team’s name on them and randomly pulling them out one by one.
Out of 200 shots, 32 were KT’s. In terms of probability, that’s 16%.
“I was expecting it, but I didn’t really know if I would get the No. 1 pick, so I was very surprised when it happened,” Song Young-jin said.
In fact, last year’s lottery was more dramatic. KT also held the second pick last year and selected center Lee Doo-won from Korea University.
Out of 200 balls, KT’s share was only 10, which happened to be drawn after Changwon LG took the No. 1 pick, which had only a 5 percent chance of being picked.
KT had a 12 percent chance (24 out of 200 balls) of being selected in the 2020 and 2021 drafts as well, when it received back-to-back second-round picks.
After selecting long guard Park Ji-won from Yonsei University in 2020, KT was able to bring in Ha Yoon-ki, who became a pillar of the team in 2021.
In 2019, they faltered with the seventh pick, but in 2018, they defied the 16% odds and took Park Joon-young, who became KU’s leading scorer with the first overall pick.
The peak was in 2018. Despite a 16% chance of getting the No. 1 pick, KT was able to acquire Changwon LG’s No. 2 pick in a trade, making them the “biggest winner of all time” with both the No. 1 and No. 2 picks.
After selecting Heo Hoon with the No. 1 pick, KT added forward Yang Hong-seok (now with LG) with the No. 2 pick, significantly bolstering their roster.
If KT, which won the draft lottery again this year, selects KU forward Moon Jung-hyun, one of the top picks in the draft, they could have a national team lineup of Heo, Moon, Sung-gon, and Ha, Yoon-ki.
The current draft system guarantees teams that finish 7-10 in the regular season a 16% chance of picking 1-4.
Two sixth-place playoff (PO) teams have a 12% chance, and two fourth-place PO teams have a 5% chance. The championship winner and runner-up have a 0.5% and 1.5% chance, respectively.
The KBL originally guaranteed equal odds of 12.5 percent for all eight teams, excluding the champion and runner-up, before slightly increasing the odds for the lower-ranked teams in the 2017 lottery to prevent an imbalance of power among teams.
Starting next year, the current system will change. The winning and runner-up teams will be automatically assigned to the 10th and 9th spots. Teams that advance to the quarterfinals of the POs will have a 3 percent chance of drawing the first through fourth picks, and the sixth-place finisher will see a significant drop to 7 percent.
This pushes the odds for teams that don’t make it to the POs up to 20%.
Another “draft powerhouse” overshadowed by KT is the Ulsan Hyundai Mobis.
After securing the No. 3 pick in 2020 and selecting Lee Woo-seok, the Hyundai Mobis beat the 5% odds in 2021 to receive the No. 4 pick, the end of the top pick (No. 1-4), to take Shin Min-seok.
This year, they smiled as they secured the No. 2 spot.
“The day before, I washed myself in the bathtub and prayed with reverence because I didn’t want any foul play in this draft,” said Koo Bon-geun, secretary general of Hyundai Mobis. “I told coach Cho Dong-hyun to lay out a red carpet in the gym.”
“The draft is so lucky. There’s a certain probability, and I can’t explain it except to say that it’s luck that it doesn’t always happen according to that probability.”
In fact, in this draft, LG and Goyang Sono both had a 5% chance of being picked first through fourth.
However, while LG managed to secure the No. 3 pick, Sono failed to secure a top pick and had to settle for No. 8.
Hwang Myung-ho, secretary-general of the newly formed Sono, is new to the nomination lottery.
“We were told that it’s a game of odds, but when we saw that we didn’t make it to the top four, we got discouraged,” says Hwang, “Luck didn’t favor us.”
“We were told that it’s a battle of odds, but when we got the first through third picks, Coach Kim Seung-ki took this afternoon off from training, so I apologize to the players,” he said, adding, “But if we get a good player, the coach will raise him well.”
Sono isn’t the only team to be disappointed.
Samsung, which finished last last season, had hoped to bolster its roster by bringing in Moon Jung-hyun, Park Mubin (Korea University), and Yoo Yoo-sang (Yonsei University), who were considered big fish among draft applicants, but instead received the fourth pick.
A Samsung representative said, “It’s unfortunate, but it’s a rule that everyone agreed to. If the probability of a lower-ranked team getting the top pick becomes too high, tanking (the practice of giving up a season’s performance for the draft) will occur, so we understand it as a process of adjusting the probability by constantly aligning with each other,” said a Samsung representative.
“When I see teams with better results than us getting better picks, I think it’s very difficult,” he said, “but of course it’s hard to make a perfect rule. We just have to do the best we can with what we have.” 파워볼게임