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NBA lottery will decide Dante Exum's fate

20 May 2014

BASKETBALL: Ping-pong balls will soon give Australian basketball phenomenon Dante Exum the biggest clue to whether he will be playing in the snow in Milwaukee, in the desert heat of Phoenix or among the palm trees and movie stars of Los Angeles.

The NBA holds its draft lottery on Tuesday (10am Wednesday AEST).

In the NBA's quest for parity, the worst teams of the 2013-14 season take part in a lottery involving ping-pong balls, with the worst-of-the-worst given the best chance of scoring the number one pick.

This year the dunce and most likely owner of the number one pick is the Milwaukee Bucks, a traditionally horrid team that managed just 15 wins from 82 games in 2013/14.

Fellow Aussie Andrew Bogut was able to flee the Bucks in 2012 after being drafted number one by the team in 2005.

The Bucks have a 25 per cent chance of scoring the top pick at Tuesday's lottery.

The almost as dismal Philadelphia 76ers (19 wins, 63 losses), led by former NBL and Australian Olympic team head coach Brett Brown, has the second best chance with the ping-pong ball gods with odds of 19.9 per cent.

"I've known Brett so it would be a cool position to put myself into, but it has to work out in the favours of the draft and lottery," Exum told reporters at last week's NBA Draft combine in Chicago.

After the 76ers, the next best bet for the number one pick is the Orlando Magic (15.6 per cent), then Utah Jazz (11.9 per cent), Boston Celtics (8.8 per cent) and Los Angeles Lakers (6.3 per cent).

The Denver Nuggets, New York Knicks, Minnesota Timberwolves and Phoenix Suns all have less than a one per cent chance of scoring the number one pick.

The teams who score the top, second and third picks are not expected to select Exum at June's draft.

The 18-year-old guard from Melbourne is likely to be the fourth or fifth selection.

US college stars Andrew Wiggins, Joel Embiid and Jabari Parker are expected to be the top three, although after Exum's performance at the combine and comparisons with a young Michael Jordan, he could break into the top three.

Exum has based himself in LA ahead of the draft, hired LA Laker star Kobe Bryant's agent Rob Pelinka and Lakers' management have met with the Australian.

If the Lakers score the fourth or fifth pick, Exum, a longtime fan of the LA glamour team, is a big chance of playing alongside his childhood hero Bryant in 2014/15.

Peter Mitchell

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