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Raptors Looking For More Lottery Luck

TORONTO -- Bryan Colangelo beat big odds at the 2006 NBA draft lottery to win the No. 1 pick.

Toronto's chances of landing the top spot are significantly better this time around, and the Raptors are hoping their general manager is their lucky charm once again Tuesday, when the league holds it annual ping-pong ball affair in Secaucus, N.J.

The Raptors have the third-best chance - or 15.6 per cent - of winning the lottery, after finishing 28th in the 30-team league. The last-place Minnesota Timberwolves have the best shot in the lottery at 25 per cent,Colangelo, the Raptors' GM, represented Toronto at the lottery in 2006, when the team had an 8.8 per cent shot at winning. But they did just that, and Colangelo selected Italian centre Andrea Bargnani with the top pick that year.

Colangelo's actually not a big believer in good luck charms.

``I think I was the only one at the lottery in 2006 that didn't have a 'lucky charm,' and there were quite a few distinct items among the challengers that I recall vividly,'' Colangelo said in an email. ``I have always found it ironic those teams holding said items that do not move up or even drop a spot or two end up going home with a 'not-so-lucky charm.'''

Duke point guard Kyrie Irving and Arizona forward Derrick Williams are the top two projected picks in this year's draft while Turkish forward Enes Kanter is a favourite to go third.

``The draft is not deep with stars, but I expect several impact players to emerge as they generally do,'' Colangelo said on this year's draft class.

The Raptors finished 22-60 after losing Chris Bosh to free agency last summer, but have a group of strong young players to build around in DeMar DeRozan, Ed Davis and Amir Johnson.

They sorely need a centre, and the 6-11 Kanter is considered the best in the draft. The 18-year-old is a tough, physical player who loves to draw contact in the paint and is a skilled shooter with considerable range. He turned heads at the Nike Hoops Summit when he scored a record 34 points and added 13 rebounds.

Kanter was a student assistant coach this past season at the University of Kentucky, which recruited him to play there before he was ruled ineligible by the NCAA because of money he received playing in the Euroleague.

The No. 3 pick has traditionally landed teams some top-notch talent. Grant Hill, Jerry Stackhouse, Chauncey Billups, Baron Davis, Pau Gasol, and Ben Gordon are among players that were selected third in the draft.

The Raptors' highest pick since 2006 was three years later when they drafted DeRozan with the No. 9 pick. The Raptors acquired Davis with the No. 13 pick last year.

The draft is June 23 at the Prudential Center in Newark, N.J.