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History shows little likelihood for lottery drama for the Sixers

Once in a while, there are some major surprise moves in the NBA draft lottery, but those occasions are few.

Former 76ers swingman Evan Turner. (Matt Slocum/AP)
Former 76ers swingman Evan Turner. (Matt Slocum/AP)Read more

THE SIXERS will be taking part in their 15th lottery tonight. And if history has a say in anything, they will either be enjoying a jump from their second spot or staying put.

And that's good news for the franchise. It means they will get a shot at either Kansas' Joel Embiid or Andrew Wiggins, or Duke's Jabari Parker. Of course, the team has been rumored to have targeted Wiggins since trading All-Star Jrue Holiday to New Orleans last draft night, but all that could change quickly. Embiid came on like gangbusters, jumping from a mid-lottery pick to the very top in a lot of mock drafts. If the Milwaukee Bucks, who own the worst record, gain the top spot, they might take Embiid, leaving Parker and Wiggins available for the Sixers. Of course, Embiid's back issues will have to checked out thoroughly before any team will spend a top-three pick on him.

Eight times, the Sixers have owned at least the sixth-worst record and seven times they have jumped up. In 1986, they owned the Clippers' sixth-worst spot and jumped all the way to No. 1, where they butchered the pick by trading what ended up to be Brad Daugherty for Roy Hinson. Sorry for the bad flashback.

As recently as 2010, the Sixers again owned the sixth-worst record and jumped up to No. 2, where they nabbed the now-departed Evan Turner.

But the lottery gets real interesting for the Sixers, because they also own New Orleans' pick. The Pelicans are sitting at No. 10. They can jump only into the top three. But if a team below them makes the leap, the pick can drop to 13. However, only once in the 29-year history of the lottery has a double-digit seed jumped into the top three. That came in 1993 when the Orlando Magic jumped all the way from 11th to the top spot, taking Chris Webber before trading him to Golden State.

As for the No. 2 pick, the news isn't as sunny. In the history of the lottery, the No. 2 pick has jumped into the top slot only twice - in 1992, when the Magic (yes, former Sixers general manager Pat Williams had pretty good luck with the draft in Orlando) drafted Shaquille O'Neal and in 1996, when the Sixers got Allen Iverson. But circumstance more than luck played a part in the Sixers getting their franchise player. Because of a previous agreement, the Vancouver Grizzlies (the worst team) and the Toronto Raptors (the third-worst) were not permitted to get the No. 1 pick. The Sixers got it almost by default.

And the No. 2 pick has stayed put only once, in 2006. The Knicks owned the pick, but it ended up in Portland, where the Trail Blazers took LaMarcus Aldridge.

In all, the No. 2 team has chosen third seven times, has picked fourth 12 times, fifth eight times and seventh once (which predated the current format).

Bottom line? The best-case scenario is they get the top pick or stay where they are. The worst case? They'll be picking fifth.