The Philadelphia 76ers won the NBA Draft lottery Tuesday night and will have the No. 1 pick in June.
The Los Angeles Lakers finished second but also felt like winners, as they would have dealt their pick to Philadelphia had they fallen out of the top three.
The Boston Celtics, with a pick dealt to them by the Brooklyn Nets, remained in the No. 3 slot.
Nobody moved up in the lottery, which sets the top three picks. The remainder of the 14 teams are slotted in the inverse order of their won-loss record.
“Was there even a lottery?” Suns GM Ryan McDonough joked afterward.
Three former University of Kentucky stars were on hand to represent their teams on stage in New York — the Minnesota Timberwolves’ Karl-Anthony Towns, the Phoenix Suns’ Devin Booker and the Sacramento Kings’ Willie Cauley-Stein. Jamal Murray and Skal Labissiere, both likely lottery picks, also took part in the event.
The 76ers finished 10-72, just off the worst record in the history of the 82-game schedule, and had a 26.9 percent chance of landing the No. 1 pick (their own 25 percent chance, and Sacramento’s 1.9 percent chance, since the 76ers had the right to swap picks with the Kings from a previous trade.)
They also would have garnered another top-five selection had the Lakers tumbled a couple of spots, since they would have been entitled to the pick the Lakers originally dealt to Phoenix for Steve Nash that the 76ers later acquired in another trade.
But Philadelphia certainly won’t complain, not after doing no better than No. 3 in the previous two drafts during a three-year process where the focus was more on building for the future than trying to win in the present.
And their win Tuesday certainly won’t quiet those believers in lottery conspiracies, as former 76ers center Dikembe Mutombo tweeted congratulations on their victory about four hours earlier. He sent a subsequent tweet saying he was just excited but was keeping his fingers crossed. The draft is June 23 in New York.
Lottery night was always going to be the highlight of this season for the 76ers, who started it on a freefall that never stopped. They started 0-18, finishing a 28-game skid dating to 2014-15, en route to a 10-72 record that was just a game better than the all-time worst in an 82-game season.
They never attempted to put a competitive team on the court under general manager Sam Hinkie, who resigned in April after overseeing a plan to accumulate draft picks but not wins. They also have the 24th and 26th picks in the first round, and their young players are expected to be joined perhaps next season by Joel Embiid and Dario Saric, who were previously drafted by Hinkie but haven’t played in the NBA, with Embiid sidelined by foot injuries and Saric remaining in Europe.
The NBA Draft is June 23 in New York, with LSU’s Ben Simmons and Duke’s Brandon Ingram considered the top two picks.
The Lakers will have the No. 2 pick for the second straight year after taking D’Angelo Russell last June. They went 17-65 in Kobe Bryant’s final season.
Boston can add another good piece to a team that won 48 games this season, and might not be done getting lottery picks from the Nets. The Celtics can swap picks with the Nets next year, and own their first-round pick in 2018, all as payment for the trade that sent Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett to Brooklyn in 2013.
Phoenix will pick fourth, followed by Minnesota, New Orleans and Denver. The Suns picked up another lottery pick when Washington fell out of the top 10 to No. 13.
NBA Draft lottery order
1. Philadelphia 76ers
2. Los Angeles Lakers
3. Boston Celtics
4. Phoenix Suns
5. Minnesota Timberwolves
6. New Orleans Pelicans
7. Denver Nuggets
8. Sacramento Kings
9. Toronto Raptors
10. Milwaukee Bucks
11. Orlando Magic
12. Utah Jazz
13. Phoenix Suns
14. Chicago Bulls