By John Torenli
The Nets will need more than just a “little bit of luck” in Wednesday night’s NBA Draft Lottery.
In fact, the Brooklyn-bound franchise would benefit greatly from a few hundred fortunate bounces during the league’s annual draw to determine who will get the top pick in the June 28 draft.
With free-agents-to-be Deron Williams and Gerald Wallace possibly on the move and only four players signed for their inaugural campaign at the Barclays Center, the Nets are doubtlessly hoping, perhaps beyond hope, that the 1,000 possible ping-pong ball combinations somehow fall in their favor.
“What the lottery does, more than anything, is gives you certainty in what the draft order is,” Nets general manager Billy King noted. “Because then you can start making calls on who has what picks.”
Slotted sixth among the 14 eligible non-playoff teams based on a 22-44 last-place finish in the Atlantic Division during the recently completed lockout-shortened campaign, the star-crossed franchise needs to nab one of the top-three positions in the draft lottery to hold on to their first-round pick.
After failing to land Orlando center Dwight Howard prior to the February trade deadline, the Nets instead made a deal for Wallace in exchange for center Mehmet Okur, forward Shawne Williams and, most importantly, their 2012 first-round pick.
The selection is top-three protected, which in layman’s terms means the Nets lose it if they don’t cop either the first, second or third pick in the draft.
That’s where the luck comes in.
So what are the chances of Brooklyn’s first major pro sports team since the Dodgers left for Los Angeles in 1957 actually finishing that high?
Based on the complicated formula the league releases every spring, the Nets have a 7.5 percent chance of getting the first overall pick, an 8.33 percent shot of landing at No. 2 and come in at 9.36 percent in the hunt for the third pick.
Still confused? This might help.
The Nets will have 75 ping-pong balls in the lottery wheel, compared to 250 for the league-worst Charlotte Bobcats, who have a 25 percent chance of earning the right to select Kentucky center Anthony Davis with the first overall pick.
Despite the long odds, our borough’s hoops enthusiasts have to cling to the hope that the Nets will somehow wind up with the right to draft Davis, Wildcat teammate Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Kansas power forward Thomas Robinson or Connecticut center Andre Drummond.
All four of those blue chippers are expected to go somewhere in the top three picks depending on whose Mock Draft you’re following.
Davis, who is being touted as the big-ticket item in the draft, could be a key cog in turning around the Nets, who failed to reach the playoffs in each of the last five seasons.
The 6-foot-10, 220-pound pivotman could also be used as bait to keep Williams from signing with another team once his time with the Nets is officially up on July 1.
Conspiracy theorists are already speculating that the league would look favorably on the Nets landing Davis en route to their new Brooklyn digs, much like they did when the then-struggling Knicks won the right to draft Patrick Ewing in the first-ever lottery in 1985.
NBA commissioner David Stern has spent the past 27 years denying he had anything to do with Ewing landing in Madison Square Garden, though the fortuitous draw did enable the Knicks to make two Finals appearances while reaching the playoffs virtually every year from 1985-2000.
Davis doesn’t figure to make the same type of sudden impact on the court, but his addition would make staying in Brooklyn much easier not only for Williams, but also Wallace and free-agent-eligible players like Kris Humphries and Gerald Green.
If the Nets fail to land a top-three pick, the onus will be on King to make the most of the 57th overall selection in the second round, or orchestrate yet another deal that would help the Nets move up before or during next month’s draft.
Wednesday’s lottery will be held at the Good Morning America Studios in Manhattan at 8 p.m., and will be televised on ESPN.
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The Nets will be holding a lottery of their own leading up to Wednesday’s big draw via their team page on NBA.com.
By filling out an entry form prior to the draft lottery, Nets fans will be eligible to win two tickets to the June 28 NBA Draft, two official Nets jerseys and two tickets to opening night at the Barclays Center in November.
All entries must be made prior to 8 p.m. Wednesday night and the winner will be revealed immediately following the lottery.