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Draft is called top-heavy

Times Staff Writer

It’s a two-horse race in the one that currently matters most for the Clippers.

Nope. Not the playoffs. Instead, the NBA draft lottery.

The Clippers and New York Knicks are both 23-56, tied for the league’s fifth-worst record. If they finish worse than the Knicks, a strong possibility with their remaining three games against playoff contenders, the Clippers would have an 8.8% chance of winning the draft’s lottery.

Like many NBA analysts, Coach Mike Dunleavy said the obvious choices in the top two slots would be Memphis point guard Derrick Rose and Kansas State forward Michael Beasley.

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Both are freshmen and although neither has declared for the draft, both are expected to.

“I don’t care who’s picking,” Dunleavy said. “Those guys are going one and two. I don’t know what you need, don’t care what you need. Those two guys are going one-two.”

After those two, Dunleavy said there is a large falloff comparable to last season, when Greg Oden and Kevin Durant were the consensus top selections.

With point guard Shaun Livingston’s status still unclear, the Clippers will probably look to draft a guard should they pick around the fifth slot. Among the players who may be available: D.J. Augustin (Texas), O.J. Mayo (USC), Jerryd Bayless (Arizona), and Eric Gordon (Indiana).

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Smush Parker suited up against the Lakers for the first time since playing for them.

There are still some scattered boos from Lakers fans every time he enters games. So far, his Clippers tenure has been mixed.

Dunleavy said Parker arrived out of shape after sitting out most of the season while exiled from the Miami Heat and on its inactive list.

“Basically, as we go forward, for all of those guys, I want to see them play really hard,” Dunleavy said. “I think it would have been easier for him if he was in better shape. I’m not sure what he did when he was out. It’s hard to simulate an NBA game. I know that.”

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jonathan.abrams@latimes.com


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