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Basketball / Sports

Timberwolves potential lottery prizes

Currently slotted at the 13th overall pick because of their 40-42 regular-season record, the Wolves own six chances out of 1,000 -- yep, 0.6 percent -- of winning the No. 1 overall and a 2.18 percent chance of winning one of the lottery's top three spots. In their 26-year history, they've never gotten lucky and beaten the lottery's odds.

They also have a 1.8 percent chance of losing their first-round pick because of a previous trade arrangement with Phoenix. If the Suns defy the long odds and leap from the 14th spot into the top three, the Wolves will drop from the 13th spot to 14th and owe the Suns their pick. The two teams agreed in 2012 on a trade that sends a top-13 protected pick to Phoenix this year. In that trade, the Suns received a future first-round pick in exchange for accepting former No. 4 overall draft pick Wes Johnson and his contract so the Wolves could clear salary-cap room to sign free-agent Andrei Kirilenko, who spent one season in Minnesota.

Also at stake

Wolves president of basketball operations Flip Saunders won't just be watching from afar how his own team fares. He'll probably pay close attention to whether Boston and the Los Angeles Lakers -- currently slotted fifth and sixth respectively -- move into the top three. Both teams likely will dangle their top picks -- the Celtics also own the draft's 17th pick -- in trade discussions for discontented Wolves star Kevin Love. A top three pick for either team could make the Wolves more interested in reaching a deal or it could convince either team to keep the pick for themselves.

Lotto prizes

These are the guys the 14 lottery teams all want:

Andrew Wiggins, 6-8 shooting guard, Kansas freshman

Skinny and skilled Canadian can score, jump and defend. The most likely No. 1 overall pick because of his sheer athleticism.

Jabari Parker, 6-8 small forward,

Duke freshman

Probably the most draft's most NBA-ready player, a gifted scorer with range but scouts wonder about his weight and conditioning.

Joel Embiid, 7-0 center, Kansas freshman

Raw but graceful shot blocker discovered the game relatively late in life back home in Cameroon. Impressed scouts with his upside before back injury ended his lone collegiate season early.

Dante Exum, 6-6 point guard

Australian mystery man -- uniquely big and athletic for his position -- is the draft's X factor.

Lucky No. 13?

Possible prospects if the Wolves stay at the 13th pick:

Gary Harris, 6-5 shooting guard,

Michigan State sophomore (above)

Strong two-way player who probably will be gone before the 13th pick comes along.

James Young, 6-8 small forward,

Kentucky freshman

Streaky shooter ended uneven season with an impressive Final Four. Inconsistent, but some scouts see star potential.

Nik Stauskas, 6-7 shooting guard, Michigan sophomore

One of draft's best shooters with great range who also might be able to play some point guard as well.

Zach LaVine, 6-6 point guard,

UCLA freshman

He's a lanky, athletic combo guard who polarized scouts with an uneven freshman season. Needs to gain weight and strength.

(c)2014 Star Tribune (Minneapolis)

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Distributed by MCT Information Services


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