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Better to be lucky than bad in lottery

The NBA will determine its draft order tonight. The worst team rarely gets the top pick.

Lucky Lefty and Larry Legend are the latest characters looking for a big score in New Jersey.

New coach Mike D'Antoni will try to make the Knicks fortunate before he can make them good, and the Seattle SuperSonics are sending star Kevin Durant in hopes of landing the next, well, Kevin Durant.

They are all expected tonight at the draft lottery, the NBA's shortcut to go from loser to winner.

Just like last year, two stud freshmen are the top prizes. The Miami Heat have the best chance to win the right to choose between Michael Beasley and Derrick Rose, but history says they won't. Only twice, in 2003 and '04, has the team with the best odds won under the current lottery format, which began in 1994.

That's why the other 13 teams headed to Secaucus, N.J., will do what they can to boost their hopes. The hometown Nets, back in the lottery for the first time since 2001, are sending team investor Shawn Carter, better known as rap mogul Jay-Z, to take their seat on the stage.

"This is very exciting and I hope my nickname 'Lucky Lefty' holds up," he said.

The Nets have just a 1 percent chance of winning the No. 1 pick. Jay-Z will be seated next to Indiana Pacers president and Hall of Famer Larry Bird.

The lottery determines the top three picks, with the rest of the first 14 spots made in inverse order of a team's record. The Heat's NBA-worst 15-67 finish gives them a 25 percent chance of choosing first.