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Henry Liao

NBA Draft Lottery: Wolves Own Top Pick

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The sad-sack Minnesota Timberwolves will have the No. 1 selection in the 2015 National Basketball Association draft to be held at the Barclays Center, home of the Brooklyn Nets, on June 25 (June 26 Manila time).

This came about after the Timberwolves won the draft lottery yesterday.

By virtue of its NBA-worst 16-66 record during the regular campaign, Minnesota owned the best chance of any of the 14 non-playoff lottery teams to land the first pick overall at 25 percent and the Wolves secured the odds in their favor by becoming the first club with the league’s worst mark to top the draft lottery since 2004 when the Orlando Magic made Dwight Howard (now with Houston) the league’s No. 1 draft choice.

Minnesota, assuming it does not trade its selection, will now have the No. 1 overall draft selection in the last three years under its fold.

Last summer, the Wolves shipped disgruntled star Kevin Love to Cleveland in exchange for Anthony Bennett and Andrew Wiggins, a pair of Canadian natives who were chosen by the Cavaliers with the NBA’s No. 1 overall pick in 2013 and 2014, respectively.

Wiggins eventually grabbed NBA Rookie of the Year honors with the Timberwolves this season, far outdistancing runner-up Nikola Mirotic, the Chicago Bulls forward from Montenegro.

The moribund Los Angeles Lakers, who had the league’s fourth-worst regular ledger at 21-61 (the worst winning percentage in franchise history at .256), defied the odds to capture the No. 2 overall selection in the lottery as the floundering New York Knicks, who owned the second-best odds with a 17-65 record, slipped to fourth.

The Philadelphia 76ers, with the third-worst card at 18-64, stayed put and will selected third.

The remaining order of selection in the first round of next month’s NBA draft is as follows: 5-Orlando, 6-Sacramento, 7-denver, 8-Detroit, 9-Charlotte, 10-Miami, 11-Indiana, 12-Utah, 13-Phoenix, 14-Oklahoma City, 15-Atlanta (via Brooklyn), 16-Boston, 17-Milwaukee, 18-Houston (via New Orleans, 19-Washington, 20-Toronto, 21-Dallas, 22-Chicago, 23-Portland, 24-Cleveland, 25-Memphis, 26-San Antonio, 27-LA Lakers (via Houston), 28-Boston (via LA Clippers), 29-Brooklyn (via Atlanta) and 30-Golden State.

Expected to go early in this year’s NBA draft are Kentucky’s 6-11 Karl-Anthony Towns and 7-foot Willie Cauley-Stein, 2015 NCAA tournament champion Duke’s 6-11 Jahlil Okafor and 6-6 Justise Winslow, Ohio State’s 6-5 D’Angelo Russell, 6-5 point guard Emmanuel Mudiay (who skipped college entirely to play pro in China this past season), Wisconsin’s Frank Kaminsky and 7-1 Latvian Kristaps Porzingis.

Meanwhile, Golden State overcame a 16-point, second-quarter deficit (49-33) to outlast Houston, 110-106, in the best-of-seven series opener of the West finals at the Oracle Arena in Oakland, California as league MVP Stephen Curry knocked in 34 points.

James Harden, who lost to Curry in the MVP race, collected 28 points, 11 rebounds, nine assists and four steals for the Rockets. Houston center Dwight Howard suffered a bruised left knee in the first quarter and finished with just seven points and 13 rebounds in 26 minutes.
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