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Updated: May 18th, 2014 2:59pm
Feeling lucky? Odds for Wolves to move up in the NBA Draft lottery

Feeling lucky? Odds for Wolves to move up in the NBA Draft lottery

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by Derek Wetmore

The NBA Draft lottery is Tuesday. What can Wolves fans expect?

Popular perception seems to be that the Minnesota Timberwolves franchise is star-crossed.

That's mostly due to draft picks gone awry or lottery drawings not falling their way. (The Wolves, after all, drafted third in 1992 and wound up with Christian Laettner after Shaquille O'Neal and Alonzo Mourning came off the board.) This theory that the Wolves are cursed leaves out their immense fortune that followed a draft-day trade that netted Mike Miller and Kevin Love. The star forward deserves a lot of credit for achieving results beyond reasonable expectations. But if they were vexed, he would not have developed into a superstar -- O.J. Mayo would have. 

If you're a believer in curses, this post won't help you, because you already know the Wolves have a zero percent chance to improve their pick. Or, naturally, you might be convinced the Wolves have a 100 percent chance to lose the pick when the Phoenix Suns leapfrog into the top-3.

The actual probability of that occurring is 0.5 percent. Meaning, if the NBA ran 200 draft lotteries, you would expect that scenario to happen once.

But provided you don't believe in curses (or fixes), what are the real odds?

The drawing is for each of the top-3 picks. Each of the 14 teams that didn't make the ployoffs is eligible, and each has a different probability, based on record.

Minnesota owns six combinations (out of 1,000). Once the three top picks are decided, selection four through 14 are given out, without a drawing, in reverse order of record.

--The most likely scenario: Minnesota keeps its pick after the lottery and is slated to draft No. 13. If the draft lottery ran 1,000 times, you'd expect this out 960 times.


--Unlikely, though not impossible, dream scenarios:

                a) Minnesota lands the top pick through the lottery: 0.6 percent.

                b) Second pick: 0.7 percent.

                c) Third pick: 0.9 percent.

                d) Moves into the top-3 selections: In total, roughly 2.2 percent.


--Nightmare: Phoenix moves into the top-3 selections, thereby bumping the Wolves down to No. 14. The Wolves first-round pick is top-13 protected, so they'd lose it if they slid to No. 14. The probability of that happening, absent of a curse or fix, is 1.8 percent.

Derek Wetmore is the senior editor for His previous stops include and the Minnesota Daily.
Email Derek | @DerekWetmore
In this story: Kevin Love