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Clippers Get Caught in Lotto Fever

Pro basketball: They have best odds of obtaining top pick for NBA draft.


The Clippers will make another NBA lottery appearance today, hoping to land the No. 1 overall draft pick for the second time in three years.

After finishing with the worst record in the league at 15-67, the Clippers a 25% chance of getting the first ball chosen in the lottery at NBA Entertainment Studios in Secaucus, N.J.

Elgin Baylor, vice president of basketball operations, will represent the Clippers, who are assured of getting at least the fourth pick.

In 1998, the Clippers finished with the third-worst record in the league but ended up with the No. 1 selection and drafted center Michael Olowokandi.

Last year, the Clippers finished with the second-worst record but the Chicago Bulls got the top pick. The Clippers had the fourth pick and took Lamar Odom.

The lottery has undergone many format changes, but the current one has been in place since 1996.

Fourteen numbered pingpong balls are placed in a drum and when four are drawn to the top, there are 1,001 possible combinations. One combination is not assigned while the others are assigned to the 13 teams by a computer.

The Clippers have been assigned 250 combinations, the Bulls 200. Four balls are drawn to the top to determine a combination and the team assigned that combination receives the top pick.

The balls are placed back in the drum and the process is done twice more--barring repeats--to determine who receives the second and third picks. If the unassigned combination is drawn, the process is repeated. The remaining teams are placed in inverse order of record.

After the drawing, numbered envelopes will be given to NBA deputy commissioner Russ Granik, who will open them in inverse order without knowing the results. If probabilities hold, the selection order for the top 13 picks in the June 28 draft in Minneapolis would be the Clippers, Chicago, Orlando, Vancouver, Atlanta, Washington, New Jersey, Cleveland, Houston, Orlando, Boston, Dallas and Orlando again.

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