THE NBA lottery is being held Tuesday night in Manhattan and where the pingpong balls land could dictate which direction the 76ers, under new president of basketball operations Bryan Colangelo, will take for maybe the next five years.

With a bit of luck, the Sixers could land the top pick, whether that be LSU's Ben Simmons or Duke's Brandon Ingram. Simmons could be that franchise player the Sixers under Sam Hinkie were hoping to land. And Ingram can be that sweet-shooting small forward the team so desperately needs. Because of a trade with Sacramento, the Sixers switch picks with the Kings if that pick is higher than the Sixers' pick. So, instead of a 25 percent chance of nabbing the No. 1 pick, the Sixers have a 26.9 percent chance. Every little bit helps.

And the Sixers have a 22.6 percent chance of getting the second pick, which means they have a 49.5 percent chance of being awarded one of the top two picks. These numbers are important to note, because it's a two-man draft - Simmons and Ingram - so getting one of the top two picks would be huge, especially for a team that has not been winning in order to get the best picks. Anything other than Simmons or Ingram would doom that plan and would assuredly force Colangelo to investigate trades and free agents to upgrade the team's talent base.

The Sixers' pick can drop as low as fourth. And there's a 32.3 percent chance that that could happen. So they have a better shot at the fourth pick than they do of capturing the top pick.

History, though, has been relatively kind to the team entering the lottery at No. 1. It has dropped below No. 3 only seven times since 1990. But the worst team has been awarded the top pick only four times since 1990 ('90, 2003, 2004 and 2015). And from 2011-14, the worst team finished second.

The second-worst team has not been dealt with as kindly, having won the top pick only twice (1992, 1996) and the second pick only twice (2002, 2006). And in the 26 drafts since 1990, the second-worst team has finished third only seven times. So the No. 2 team has finished either fourth or fifth in the lottery 15 times in 26 years.

Which brings us to the Los Angeles Lakers, the second-worst team in the NBA. The Sixers hold the rights to the Lakers' pick should it fall below the third pick. There is a 31.9 percent chance that Lakers' picks will fall to fourth and only a 12.3 percent possibility that the pick will fall as low as fifth.

The perfect scenario for the Sixers would be getting the first and fourth picks, enabling them to take a forward and a guard, positions in which the Sixers are needy. Of the seven possibilities in which the Sixers can grab two of the top-five picks, the best - at 14.21 percent - are securing No. 1 and No. 4. The probability drops to 10.5 percent for the second and fourth picks. The chance of the Sixers getting any combination of two picks is 44.2 percent, according to

Only one time since the NBA went to a lottery in 1985 has a team drafted two players in the top five (excluding trades made once the picks have been made) and that was the 2011 Cleveland Cavaliers, who chose Kyrie Irving with the top pick and Tristan Thompson with the fourth pick. It should be noted that the Cavs, owning the Los Angeles Clippers pick, jumped from No. 8 to No. 1 to get Irving. And their own pick, which was No. 2, fell to No. 4.

Bottom line is, history can tell us one thing and the numbers can tell us another. Either way, it's all up to the pingpong balls Tuesday night. And it could dictate the next five years for a team that's coming off the worst three-year run in league history.