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Clippers Hoping for Luck in the Draw

Times Staff Writer

It’s time again for the NBA draft lottery, which means it’s time again for the Clippers to dispatch a representative to Secaucus, N.J., for their seemingly annual participation in the event, which unfolds tonight.

Coach Mike Dunleavy will be on hand in the NBA Entertainment Studios when numbered pingpong balls determine selections 1-3 and 5-14 in the June 24 selection process. The expansion Charlotte Bobcats, who begin play next season but will not participate in the lottery, are locked into the fourth pick.

Based on their worst-in-the-West 28-54 record last season, the Clippers currently hold the fifth pick, behind the Bobcats and the worst three teams from the East last season: the Orlando Magic, Chicago Bulls and Washington Wizards.

The Clippers have a 34.03% chance of landing one of the top three picks, a 10.5% chance of winding up with the top pick overall. They have a 55.97% chance of falling to sixth, seventh or eighth, eighth being the furthest they can drop.

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The Magic has a 25% chance of hanging on to the top pick, but only once in the last 13 years has the team with the worst record received the top pick.

Fortunately for the Magic, there is no consensus No. 1 pick this year, as there was two years ago with Yao Ming and last year with LeBron James.

The top prospects are said to be Emeka Okafor of Connecticut, Luol Deng of Duke and high school stars Dwight Howard from Atlanta and Shaun Livingston from Peoria, Ill. All but Livingston, a 6-foot-7 point guard, are forwards.

The Clippers, who have made a league-high 16 lottery picks since the process was introduced in 1985, still are searching for a point guard, but not necessarily from the draft. If they land one of the top three picks, they probably will listen to offers to package the pick in a trade for a veteran point guard.

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Other than Livingston, who weighs 170 pounds and probably will need time to develop, the top playmakers in the draft are thought to be Ben Gordon of Connecticut, Devin Harris of Wisconsin and Jameer Nelson of Saint Joseph’s.

Nelson and Brooklyn prep star Sebastian Telfair worked out for the Clippers last week in El Segundo, and Dunleavy was among a number of NBA representatives scheduled to watch Gordon work out Tuesday in New York.

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Lottery Numbers

The 13 teams, listed in order of worst record, in the NBA draft lottery and the percentages of winning the No. 1 overall selection:

*--* No. Team Rec. Pct. 1. Orlando 21-61 25% 2. Chicago 23-59 20% 3. Washington 25-57 15.7% 4. Clippers 28-54 10.5% 5. Atlanta 28-54 10.4% 6. Phoenix 29-53 6.4% 7. Toronto 33-49 3.7% 8. Philadelphia 33-49 3.6% 9. Cleveland 35-47 1.8% 10. Golden State 37-45 0.9% 11. Seattle 37-45 0.9% 12. Portland 41-41 0.6% 13. Utah 42-40 0.5%

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