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Utah Jazz hope to buck the odds in NBA draft lottery

Published: Tuesday, May 20 2014 7:00 a.m. MDT

In this May 21, 2013 file photo, NBA basketball team representatives sit onstage at the start of the NBA draft lottery in New York. The draft lottery is Tuesday, May 20, 2014, a night some teams appeared to be aiming toward for months during a season featuring plenty of talking about tanking. The winner gets the No. 1 pick in next month's draft, when an Andrew Wiggins or Jabari Parker might make all of this season's misery worth it.  (Jason DeCrow, AP) In this May 21, 2013 file photo, NBA basketball team representatives sit onstage at the start of the NBA draft lottery in New York. The draft lottery is Tuesday, May 20, 2014, a night some teams appeared to be aiming toward for months during a season featuring plenty of talking about tanking. The winner gets the No. 1 pick in next month's draft, when an Andrew Wiggins or Jabari Parker might make all of this season's misery worth it. (Jason DeCrow, AP)

SALT LAKE CITY — For years, Kevin O'Connor lamented his lack of luck when it came to representing the Utah Jazz at the NBA's draft lottery.

Sure, there was the time in 2011 when O'Connor was present as the team's rep when the Jazz leaped from the sixth spot up to No. 3, resulting in the acquisition of center Enes Kanter.

But Utah's executive vice president of basketball operations would just as quickly remind you of 2004, '05, '06 and '10 when he was in the spotlight and the NBA's fortune evaded him.

Jazz president Randy Rigby must've walked under a ladder en route to the lottery last year because his luck wasn't any better when Utah remained in the No. 14 drafting position.

This year, the Jazz are pinning their hopes on Bryan Miller, one of the sons of the late Larry H. Miller and team owner Gail Miller. He'll be the first member of the Miller family to represent the organization at the lottery.

Rigby and general manager Dennis Lindsey will also be present as observers, just not on the stand with 14 teams' so-called lucky charms (including Dr. J for the Sixers).

With arguably the best draft in a decade, stakes are high for this particular lottery. That's especially the case because the Jazz are in the No. 4 position and could go anywhere from the top spot (where Andrew Wiggins, Jabari Parker, Dante Exum and Joel Embiid will be available) to as low as No. 7 (where some good-but-not-as-intriguing consolation prizes will be left).

Strangely, the Jazz only have a probability of 9.85 percent to stay in the No. 4 slot. They landed there after winning a tiebreaker with the Boston Celtics, who also finished at 25-57.

While the Jazz have a 33.69 percent chance of moving up into one of the top three spots, they also have 37.29 percent odds of finishing fifth.

Worst-case scenario, Utah will have endured a rebuilding season to only pick sixth (17.75 percent odds) or seventh (1.42 percent odds).

The Jazz will also have the 23rd pick in the first round (via the Golden State trade last summer) and either the 34th or 35th overall selection. If Boston leapfrogs the Jazz in the lottery, Utah will get the higher pick.

The actual NBA draft takes place on June 26, giving the Jazz another month to conduct pre-draft workouts, interviews and strategy sessions to determine their picking pecking order.

Milwaukee has the best shot of winning the No. 1 pick by virtue of its league-worst record of 15-67. The Bucks have a 25 percent chance of securing the top spot. Philadelphia is second (19.9 percent), followed by Orlando (15.6 percent).

The rest of the lottery includes the Celtics (10.3 percent), Lakers (6.3 percent), Kings (3.6 percent), Pistons (3.5 percent), Cavaliers (1.7 percent), Pelicans (1.1 percent), Nuggets (0.8 percent), Knicks (0.7 percent), Timberwolves (0.6 percent) and Suns (0.5 percent). Multiple teams could be forced to give up their lottery picks because of previous trades.

The lottery will be televised on ESPN, beginning at 6 p.m. MDT from the Disney/ABC Times Square Studios.

Some lottery tidbits from Jazz PR:

— The Jazz have never picked No. 1 overall. Utah's highest selection was No. 2 in 1980 when the franchise selected Darrell Griffith out of Louisville.

— Utah's previous lottery selections include Deron Williams (third) in 2005; Kanter and Alec Burks (12th) in 2011; Gordon Hayward (ninth) in 2010; Ronnie Brewer (14th) in 2006; and Kris Humphries (14th) in 2004. The Jazz picked Shabazz Muhammad (14th) in 2013 but later traded him with their 21st pick (Gorgui Dieng) for Trey Burke, a ninth pick.

— Utah has never drafted in positions 1, 2, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 10, 11 or 13 since the lottery was implemented in 1985.

— The team in the No. 1 lottery position has only won the top pick three times since 1990. The team in the No. 2 position going in has won it four times since then.

— The biggest lottery leap came in 1993 when Orlando, slotted in the final lottery spot (11th), won despite having just a 1.5 percent chance.

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