Living lottery life, will Lakers hit jackpot or slink away busted?

Tuesday's draft lottery (8:30 p.m. ET, ESPN)promises to be one of the most high-stakes determinations of the picking order in recent memory, with numerous teams hanging on the unpredictable results. It's typically one of the most exciting nights on the NBA calendar, and this year, it could be extreme. Here's a simple FAQ on what's at stake:

Q: Which teams have the most to gain and lose?
A: The answer to both is the Los Angeles Lakers. The Lakers' pick will go to the Philadelphia 76ers unless it falls within the top three picks. The Lakers have a 15.6 percent chance of winning the lottery, the third-best odds. They have a 47 percent chance of getting somewhere in the top three. With a draft expected to have a handful of impact players, keeping the pick is possibly franchise-changing.

Q: Is this why the Lakers were pretty much tanking at the end of the season, not even playing their highest-paid players?

A: Of course. However, they went on an unexpected five-game win streak in April, and the Phoenix Suns fell behind the Lakers for the league's second-worst record. The Suns have a 56 percent chance of ending up in the top three. Plus, if the Lakers lose their pick, they also have to send their 2019 first-round pick to the Orlando Magic due to a previous trade. So these pingpong ball combinations are worth essentially two first-round picks to the Lakers. High stakes, indeed.

Q: So if the Lakers win, the 76ers lose?

A: In a way, yes. The 76ers could end up being a gigantic winner, too. They have the fourth-best chance of winning the lottery (11.9 percent) with their own pick plus the Lakers drama. The 76ers' grand slam is winning the lottery and pushing the Lakers out, coming away with the No. 1 and No. 4 picks, at which point the fans of former Sixers GM Sam Hinkie might hold an impromptu parade. The 76ers' disaster is the Lakers keeping the pick and then falling back to the worst-case scenario of the No. 7 pick. Here we go again with the high stakes.

Q: Won't the Boston Celtics get a high pick because of their trade with the Brooklyn Nets?
A: Absolutely. The Celtics have the option to swap picks with the Nets, who have the league's worst record, and will do so, with a 25 percent chance for the No. 1 pick. Boston can do no worse than the No. 4. The Nets will end up with the Celtics' No. 27 overall pick. Yikes. The Celtics also got the Nets' pick last year, which was No. 3 overall, and they own Brooklyn's pick unprotected next year as well. None of this is new information, but moments like these are a reminder of why the Nets-Celts deal that brought Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Jason Terry to the Nets may go down as one of the most infamous trades in league history.

Q: So the Celtics can't lose?

A: Their position is great, but they need to buck a trend. The team with the best odds (i.e., worst record) has won the lottery the past two years. The last time that happened, in 2003 and 2004, the team with the best odds didn't win again for 10 years. But the Celtics have an excellent team and are getting a high pick either way, so it's a win-win.

Q: What other teams are sweating it out?

A: The New Orleans Pelicans and Sacramento Kings. In February, the Kings sent DeMarcus Cousins to the Pelicans and got this year's first-rounder. However, the Pelicans don't have to give up the pick if it falls in the top three. Heading into the lottery, the Pelicans hold the 10th pick. Kings fans can probably relax because a team outside the top nine hasn't moved into the top three since the Charlotte Hornets in 1999. So, it's unlikely. Then again, maybe it's overdue.

Q: The Kings are due for some luck, right?
A: The Kings actually have traded away almost all their luck. The 76ers have the right to swap picks with the Kings in this draft. So if Sacramento's pick moves up into the top three and moves ahead of the 76ers pick, Philly can swap it and knock the Kings backward. So even if the Kings win the lottery, they won't get the No. 1 pick.

Q: What are the other long shot things to watch for?

A: Twice in the last nine years, the team with the ninth-best chance to win the lottery has pulled off the extraordinary and moved up to take the No. 1 pick: the Bulls in 2008 and the Cavs in 2014. This year, the Dallas Mavericks sit in that chair.

Also, there's an infinitesimal chance the Kings could lose all their picks. They have the No. 8 pick, and in the incredible event that three teams outside the top eight move up and the Kings fall out of the top 10, their pick would be sent to the Chicago Bulls due to a previous trade agreement. Most likely, the Kings will end up with picks No. 8 and No. 10 (from the Cousins trade). But there's a one-in-a-million chance the Kings could walk out of this lottery with no picks if they fall out of the top 10 and the Pelicans move up into the top three. That would be an Armageddon-esque moment, for sure. But, after all, these are the Kings.

It's also worth pointing out to the greater Sacramento area that twice in the past six seasons the team with the eighth pick has moved into the top three -- the Cavs in 2011 and the Wizards in 2013. It would be wise for Kings fans to watch the drama closely early in the proceedings.

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