As first reported by Mel Greenberg on Twitter, the WNBA Draft lottery has been set for September 26 during the 6 p.m. EDT edition of Sportscenter on ESPN.
For those unfamiliar with the process, the winner of the lottery receives the top pick in the 2013 WNBA Draft scheduled for April. By virtue of being eliminated from the playoffs, the Phoenix Mercury, Tulsa Shock, and Washington Mystics have been eliminated from playoff contention in 2012 and will participate in the Lottery. The fourth team will very likely be either the Chicago Sky or New York Liberty, depending on who misses the playoffs.
The following excerpt from the WNBA release describes the selection process:
Fourteen balls numbered 1-14 will be placed in a lottery machine and mixed. Four balls will then be drawn to the top to determine a four-digit combination. The team that has been assigned that four-ball combination will receive the No. 1 pick. The four balls will then be placed back into the machine and the process will be repeated to determine the second and third picks. The team that does not win one of the top three picks will be slotted fourth.
There are 1,001 possible combinations when four balls are drawn out of 14, without regard to their order of selection. One thousand of those combinations will be assigned to the four non-playoff teams based on their order of finish in the 2012 regular season. The remaining combination will be unassigned. If the one unassigned combination is drawn, the balls will be placed back into the machine and the process will be repeated until an assigned combination is drawn.
Last year that resulted in an odd scenario: the lottery order ended up in reverse order of their finish last season, leaving the L.A. Sparks with the #1 pick and the Tulsa Shock with the #4 pick. But that's a low probability outcome - approximately a 0.76% chance of occurring. Lottery luck has never really been with the Shock franchise - they have yet to earn a #1 pick in the WNBA Draft either since their relocation or while in Detroit, despite having the best odds in the past two seasons.
The general consensus is that the big prize in this year's draft is 6-foot-8 Baylor Lady Bears center Brittney Griner, who is coming off an undefeated season and National Championship in the 2011-12 collegiate season. But 6'5" Delaware Blue Hens forward Elena Delle Donne and Notre Dame point guard Skylar Diggins are also star players who are likely to be selected in the lottery based on what we know now.
We've already had discussions about the impact of televising the lottery and who each team should select elsewhere, but feel free to continue the conversation in the comments below.