NEW YORK - The 76ers were hit neither by lightning nor a sledge hammer on Tuesday night during the NBA draft lottery. They didn't get lucky enough to have the Ping-Pong balls deliver them one or two more first-round picks, but they weren't unlucky, either. What they deserved, based on having the third-worst record in the league, is exactly what they got.

General manager Sam Hinkie didn't call it fair or unfair. He called it mathematics in action.

"It was a good night for us. Even better than we anticipated," Hinkie said. "We spent a lot of time looking at the odds and the most likely outcome was that we would get the fourth pick alone, and the next most likely outcome was we would get the third pick alone. We had a 77 percent chance of only getting our pick."

Scott O'Neil, the team CEO, loaded his wallet with talismans for good luck. There was a coin with the imprint of a shamrock and a $2 bill folded up origami-style that represented a family tradition that went back three generations.

"I asked Sam if he had a good-luck charm and he said that wouldn't really change the probabilities," O'Neil said. "We kind of look at it from different ends of things."

In fact, Hinkie was carrying a coin given to him by his 5-year-old son, a "kindness coin" the child was awarded at school for an act of kindness. Hinkie thought that was something special, even if he didn't think it would change the overall fortune of the evening.

Beforehand, O'Neil and Hinkie were talking about the most favorable possibility, which would have involved the Sixers getting the top pick, the Lakers falling to the sixth pick, and the Heat falling to 11th. The Sixers are owed picks from those teams and will get them eventually, but they would have been transferred to this season if the balls had fallen the right way. A hopeful Twitter hashtag #onesixeleven made the rounds before the lottery and O'Neil - the guy with the wallet full of wishes - held onto the hope of a windfall.

"Why don't we just wish we were 9 feet tall?" Hinkie told him.

The math held form, except for the Knicks, who were the only team to fall in the lottery, getting the fourth pick after having turned in the second-worst record.

"On a night like this, it's good to remind ourselves what we can control and what we can't," Hinkie said. "It's a fair game. It's a set of odds that are publicly known and you just let the chips fall where they may."

If the chips fall as expected, the Timberwolves and Lakers will take two big men who are considered to be the best players available in the draft - Karl-Anthony Towns and Jahlil Okafor. That would seem to leave the 76ers with a choice to make between two lead guards, D'Angelo Russell and Emmanuel Mudiay, to plug the hole left at the point position by the trade of Michael Carter-Williams.

There are plenty of other talented players who could fall among the first seven or eight picks in the draft, but looking at the Sixers' roster, looking at their needs, grabbing either Russell or Mudiay makes the most sense. Those who were expecting Hinkie to expound on that theory, however, were also expecting him to show up with a rabbit's foot necklace.

"It will be interesting to see how it plays out. It's too early to know," Hinkie said. "People tend to get wed to what one mock draft or another says, and over time, they don't turn out to be true. I think the Timberwolves and Lakers will be doing what we're doing. They'll be spending a lot of time analyzing the players available to them."

The Sixers now hold six picks in the draft, including five in the second round. Their selections start with the third pick of the round and run all the way to the 60th pick, the last one in the draft. Hinkie expects there will be a large number of players invited to Philadelphia for workouts. Perhaps it won't be as many as a year ago, when they brought close to 70 prospects, but the Sixers will be thorough.

Will they ultimately make good picks, particularly with the third pick? Hinkie will try to take luck out of the equation as much as possible. Now they are entering the realm of the things that can be controlled.

On Tuesday night, the draft lottery treated them fairly. Not great, not badly, but fairly. And the way this thing can work, that was the greatest kindness of all.

@bobfordsports