Bullets hoping this year's lottery is easy as one, two or three

May 22, 1994|By Jerry Bembry | Jerry Bembry,Sun Staff Writer

Shaquille O'Neal. Alonzo Mourning. Larry Johnson. Chris Webber. Anfernee Hardaway. They're players you can't go wrong with, players you build franchises around.

And all are players who have been selected among the top three picks of recent NBA drafts.

This afternoon the Washington Bullets are hoping they can get their hands on an impact player as they try their luck at the NBA draft lottery. The 11 non-playoff teams will attempt to land one of the top three picks of the draft.

The Bullets, with little luck since the draft lottery began in 1985, will throw a different spin into this year's proceedings. Calbert Cheaney and Tom Gugliotta -- Washington's No. 6 picks the past two years -- will be the first players to represent a team in the lottery.

"I think it'll be a lot of fun," Gugliotta said. "Calbert and I will go up there and try to bring back a top-three pick. I'm looking forward to it, and I think it'll be a good experience."

The Bullets are hoping the players will come away with the same look of joy that has overcome the winning general managers in recent years. Who can forget the jubilation of former Knicks general manager Dave DeBusschere after winning the Patrick Ewing sweepstakes in 1985, or the face of Orlando Magic general manager Pat Williams after landing top picks O'Neal and Hardaway in back-to-back years.

"I think there's a lot of luck involved," Bullets general manager John Nash said. "When you're in a position to get a top pick, you hope you're in that position when there's a franchise player."

The Bullets haven't been anywhere near that position, being one of just two teams that haven't had a top-four pick in the past 15 years (the Milwaukee Bucks are the other team). While Gugliotta and Cheaney have showed signs of being solid professionals, there's no question the Bullets would be better off with an O'Neal or a Mourning in a Washington uniform.

A top pick this year could yield Glenn Robinson, the Purdue All-American who the Bullets have said would be their first choice. But with Duke's Grant Hill emerging as the top senior, and Jason Kidd (California), Donyell Marshall (Connecticut) and Juwan Howard (Michigan) among the underclassmen applying for early entry, the draft should be attractive for any team in the top five.

"I think there are some really quality players at the top," Nash said. "Every year you see a group of potential franchise players, and then a second tier."

In this year's lottery, Washington has a 9.4 percent chance of winning the first pick, a 10.3 percent chance of winning the second pick, and an 11.46 chance at the third.

The NBA draft will be held on June 29 at the Hoosier Dome in Indianapolis. The proceedings this year differ from the previous lotteries, with the NBA board of governors approving a modification that increases the chances of the teams with the worst records winning one of the top three picks while decreasing the chances of the teams with the best records.

In the new system, 14 ping-pong balls numbered 1 through 14 will be placed in a drum, with four balls drawn to the top. There are 1,000 possible combinations when four balls are drawn out of 14. Prior to the lottery, 1,000 combinations will be assigned to each of 11 lottery teams.

Sound confusing? It is. What's for sure is that one of 11 teams will look to improve themselves immediately with the top pick. The Bullets, who have not been lucky since the lottery began, hope this is their time.

"Hopefully we'll get lucky," Gugliotta said. "Getting a top pick will be important for us. We have the components to improve a lot, and this could only help more."

LOTTERY CHANCES

The number of chances each team in the NBA draft lottery will have when the order of the first 11 picks is determined today:

.. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. ... ... ... Chances out

Team .. .. .. .. .. .. W-L .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. of 1,000

Dallas .. .. .. ... .. 13-69 .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. 250

Detroit .. ... ... ... 20-62 .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. 164

Minnesota .. .. .. ... 20-62 .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. 164

Milwaukee .. .. .. ... 20-62 .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. 163

Washington ... ... ... 24-58 .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. ... 94

* Philadelphia ... ... 25-57 .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. ... 66

L.A. Clippers ... ... 27-55 ... .. .. .. .. .. .. .. ... 44

Sacramento ... ... ... 28-54 .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. ... 27

Boston .. ... .. .. .. 32-50 .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. ... 15

L.A. Lakers ... ... .. 33-49 .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. ... 8

* Charlotte ... ... .. 41-41 .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. ... 5

*-Picks belong to Seattle or Philadelphia. The SuperSonics will .. receive the least favorable one as determined by the lottery.

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