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John Schuhmann

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Kentucky guard John Wall is the likely prize for whichever team wins the NBA Draft lottery.
Chris Graythen/Getty Images

Prized players Wall, Turner await Tuesday night's big winner


Posted May 18 2010 10:30AM

Tuesday night could be a huge turning point for a lot of NBA franchises. Not only can the surging Celtics take a commanding 2-0 lead in the Eastern Conference finals, the future of 14 other teams could be radically transformed by what happens in a conference room in New Jersey.

Weeks and weeks before we have any clue about where LeBron James will play next season, we'll get a great idea about where prospects like John Wall and Evan Turner will make their homes when team representatives gather Tuesday for the NBA Draft lottery in Secaucus, N.J.

Wall and Turner are the consensus top two picks in the upcoming NBA Draft, which will take place on June 24 in New York. Wall, the athletic and electric freshman point guard from Kentucky, will likely be selected No. 1, no matter who has the pick. And Turner, the versatile junior swingman from Ohio State, is the early favorite to go No. 2.

After Wall and Turner, most mock drafts have big men prospects DeMarcus Cousins (Kentucky) and Derrick Favors (Georgia Tech) as potential high picks.

The order of the first 14 picks of the Draft will be determined Tuesday at the lottery, which will be held at the NBA Entertainment studios in New Jersey and televised on ESPN at 8 p.m. ET, before Game 2 in Orlando.

Fittingly enough, the Nets not only have the shortest trip to Secaucus (just a five-minute drive East on Route 3), but also the best chance at winning the top pick. After finishing 12-70 and boasting the league's worst record last season, New Jersey has a 25 percent chance at No. 1.

It's been a rough year in the Garden State, but a win on Tuesday would be step No. 2 in the Nets' Summer of Change.

Step 1 was the long-awaited approval of new owner Mikhail Prokhorov, which happened last week. Prokhorov will hold an introductory press conference in Manhattan on Wednesday, but the Lottery will be his first public appearance as Nets owner.

2010 Draft Lottery odds
Here's a quick look at each Lottery team's chances at getting the No. 1, No. 2 or No. 3 overall pick.
Team Record Chances 1st Pick 2nd Pick 3rd Pick
Nets 12-70 250 25.00% 21.49% 17.73%
Timberwolves 15-67 199 19.90% 18.79% 17.08%
Kings 25-57 156 15.60% 15.72% 15.55%
Warriors 26-56 104 10.40% 11.20% 12.08%
Wizards 26-56 103 10.30% 11.10% 12.00%
Sixers 27-55 53 5.30% 6.03% 6.97%
Pistons 27-55 53 5.30% 6.03% 6.97%
Clippers 29-53 23 2.30% 2.69% 3.22%
Jazz (via Knicks) 29-53 22 2.20% 2.57% 3.08%
Pacers 32-50 11 1.10% 1.30% 1.57%
Hornets 37-45 8 0.80% 0.95% 1.15%
Grizzlies 40-42 7 0.70% 0.83% 1.01%
Raptors 40-42 6 0.60% 0.71% 0.87%
Rockets 42-40 5 0.50% 0.59% 0.72%

After the lottery comes hiring a new coach. And then after the Draft comes free agency. We know that Prokhorov, who already has cachet around the league thanks to his 60 Minutes profile, aims to make a splash this summer and turn the franchise around. In a video message on the team's website on Monday, he told them to expect a championship in a minimum of five years.

The Nets are guaranteed to land no lower than the fourth pick in the Draft, but No. 1 could certainly go a long way in accelerating the turnaround. Not only is Wall a can't-miss talent, he also can help them attract a top-flight coach in the next few weeks and top-flight free agents in July. It's no secret that Wall has an existing relationship with James, who is clearly the top target of the Nets (and every other team with cap space).

Of course, the Nets already have a point guard -- one who's 27 years old, was an All-Star two seasons ago and has a reasonable contract. But if New Jersey gets the No. 1 pick, Devin Harris could be traded for a big man or more cap space.

The Nets will be happy to have to deal with excess point guards, hoping that lottery luck comes their way every 10 years, having won the top pick in 1990 and 2000. But though they're the team most likely to go home with the No. 1 pick, they're three times as likely not to get it. In the 25-year history of the lottery, the team with the league's worst record has won the lottery just four times.

The Timberwolves (19.9 percent), Kings (15.6 percent) and Warriors (10.4 percent), three teams that drafted point guards a year ago, have the best odds after the Nets to win the lottery. The Wizards, who have Gilbert Arenas under contract for another four years and $80 million, are the other team with at least a 1-in-10 chance.

Two other teams, the 76ers and Rockets, are actually sending their point guards to Secaucus to represent them. If Jrue Holiday and Aaron Brooks bring good luck, it could make for an awkward post-lottery interview, as they'll likely be out of a job.

As bad as the last decade has been for the New York Knicks, it could get worse on Tuesday. Back in 2004, the Knicks sent a future first-round pick to Phoenix as part of a trade for Stephon Marbury. The Suns sent the pick to Utah a month later in a deal for Keon Clark and Ben Handlogten, and after six years of protection, it has finally come due. If it happens to land in the top three (it has an eight percent chance of doing so), it would just add to the misery of Knicks fans, who would probably like to fast forward to July 1 either way.

This Draft isn't nearly as deep at point guard as last year's was, but Wall has the ability to alter the direction of a franchise. We'll find out just which franchise it will be on Tuesday.

John Schuhmann is a staff writer for NBA.com. You can e-mail him here and follow him on twitter.

The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA, its clubs or Turner Broadcasting.

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