CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — The odds are stacked against Michael Jordan’s Bobcats winning the NBA lottery Wednesday night and landing the No. 1 pick in the draft.
It’s a tough situation for Jordan because his struggling franchise can’t afford yet another loss.
The Bobcats finished with the worst winning percentage in league history (.106) after going 7-59 in the labor-shortened regular season. Nonetheless, they have a 25 percent chance of getting this year’s top prospect — which appears to be 6-foot-10 Anthony Davis from Kentucky.
“It’s probably as big of a day as we’ve had in our history since Michael joined,” said Bobcats president and COO Fred Whitfield.
The Bobcats are expecting about 5,000 fans for an open house at Time Warner Cable Arena and they’ll be rooting for the Bobcats to hit the lottery.
History isn’t on Charlotte’s side.
The team with the worst record in the league hasn’t won the NBA lottery since 2004 — the year the Orlando Magic used the No. 1 pick to select Dwight Howard. Since then, the team with the worst record has received the second pick three times, the third pick once and the fourth pick three times.
If the Bobcats don’t get the first pick, their odds of winning the second pick drop to 21.5 percent. If they don’t get the No. 2 pick they have only a 17.7 percent chance of landing the third pick.
They can draft no lower than fourth overall.
The Washington Wizards, which finished 20-46, have the second-best chance of winning the lottery at 19.9 percent, followed by New Orleans (14.8) and Cleveland (13.8).
Whitfield cautioned it’s not the end of the world if the Bobcats don’t get the top pick.
“It’s an exciting time for us because we’re going to add a quality piece to the young core that we already have,” Whitfield said. “We feel this is a deep draft and we’re looking at this as an opportunity to add a very good player to the mix.”
But the Bobcats need more than a very good player, they need a franchise player — landing Davis would give them one.
They’re also in the midst of a coaching search and getting the top pick makes the job more attractive to potential top-notch candidates.
And, having Davis around might help lure more high-profile potential free agents to Charlotte this summer when Jordan promises to open his pocket book — the Bobcats should be about $20 million under the salary cap.
Jordan has been in a similar position before.
Washington won the NBA lottery in 2001 and Jordan, then an executive with the Wizards, used the No. 1 pick to select center Kwame Brown instead of Tyson Chandler, Pau Gasol or Joe Johnson. Brown became a journeyman rather than a cornerstone of the Wizards franchise, averaging 6.8 points and 5.6 rebounds per game while playing for six different teams.
Jordan can’t afford to make a similar mistake again.
For Bobcats fans who suffered through a horrible season in which their team finished last in the league in scoring and shooting percentage while losing 22 games by 20 or more points, the lottery represents hope.
“I think it’s a huge day,” said Doug Doggett, a Bobcats season ticket holder since their arrival in Charlotte eight years ago. “I think this kid, Anthony Davis, can come in be a game changer for this franchise. If we get the No. 2 pick it’s questionable on whether that will be the same impact. But if the Bobcats get the No. 1 pick it could be the kick start that Michael Jordan needs to get this team back and make a contender of out of them in a few years.”
The Bobcats haven’t had much success in the lottery.
They’ve participated six times previously and have received a pick in the top three only once (2006) and that’s when they had the league’s third-worst record.
The Bobcats are hoping for a change of luck.
They’re sending general manager Rich Cho to New York for the lottery. While this will be Cho’s first time representing a team on stage, he has been a lottery room participant on several occasions, most notably in 2007 when his Seattle SuperSonics moved up from the fifth-worst record to the second pick where they later selected Kevin Durant.
Davis may not be Durant, but Jordan and company would probably like him to be a Bobcat.