- The Washington Times - Sunday, May 19, 2002

SACRAMENTO Today the Washington Wizards will realize perhaps the only true benefit the NBA offers teams that are not good enough to make the playoffs participation in the draft lottery.
The lottery, the system the NBA has devised to determine the selection order for the 13 teams that failed to make the playoffs, will be in Secaucus, N.J., at halftime of the Eastern Conference finals. The draft will be in New York on June 22.
Last season, the Wizards did not have the worst record in the league but they defied the odds in the lottery and moved into the top spot where they selected high school senior Kwame Brown, marking the first time a high school player was taken with the top pick. However, the chances of the Wizards earning the top pick again are highly unlikely. This year they have seven chances in 1,000 of getting the top pick.
"We're just hoping that we can improve our team no matter how it turns out," Wizards general manger Wes Unseld said. "It's always nice if you can get the top pick because then you have leverage and everybody wants to come to you."
And when four pingpong balls are chosen one at a time to determine the winner of the NBA draft lottery, four new sets of eyes will be watching.
Although the NBA says the policy change has nothing to do with debunking conspiracy theories, it has decided to let the Associated Press, Sports Illustrated, ESPN Magazine and USA Today watch the proceedings in person.
The New York Knicks won the right to choose Georgetown center Patrick Ewing, and conspiracy theorists have long suggested that the envelope containing the Knicks' logo had been placed in a freezer prior to the drawing, or doctored in some other way.
A representative of the accounting firm Ernst & Young, along with the four media members, various league officials and a representative of each of the 13 lottery teams, will witness the actual drawing, which takes place about an hour before the results are announced.
Pingpong balls numbered 1-14 are placed in a hopper, and four are drawn in succession. There are 1,001 possible ways those numbers could come up, and each combination is assigned to a different team. (There are 1,000 assigned combinations; the 1,001st is assigned to no one. If it is drawn, or if the team that won the first pick is also chosen for the second pick, extra drawings will be held).
The Bulls and Warriors, each of whom finished with the league's worst record at 21-61, have 225 different combinations.


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