Sure, there's hope, but little believing

  • Article by: KENT YOUNGBLOOD , Star Tribune
  • Updated: May 22, 2007 - 1:22 AM

The Wolves, and some folks with insight on luck, aren't predicting an upgrade in the team's draft lot.

There will be no talismans for Kevin McHale. The Timberwolves vice president used to play basketball, but he never thought much of ping-pong.

But, of course, he'll watch.

For the 11th time, the Timberwolves will take part in the NBA's draft lottery. The hope at Target Center is that the team, currently seventh, will improve its draft lot for the first time.

Randy Foye will be representing the Wolves in Secaucus, N.J. tonight, toting holy water from Lourdes, France ... but McHale definitely will not be clutching a lucky charm while he watches.

"They do it like a bingo machine," McHale said. "I'm not a big believer in that bingo machine luck. What will happen will happen."

The Wolves have been disappointed when it comes to the draft lottery. Remember? They had the league's worst record in 1992, but dropped to No. 3 when Shaquille O'Neal and Alonzo Mourning were available. Hello, Christian Laettner. A year later, the league's second-worst record turned into a No. 5 pick. Indeed, in 10 spins in the NBA lottery the Wolves never have moved up.

Could this be the year? There are two players everyone has atop the list: big men Greg Oden and Kevin Durant. The 7-0 Oden is an athletic shot-changer and rebounder, two skills McHale would very much like to add. At 6-10 Durant is drawing comparisons to Kevin Garnett and Dirk Nowitzki.

The Wolves have a 5.3 percent chance of moving into the top spot and a 6 percent shot at No. 2. So break out the lucky charms right after dinner. Or not.

"We'll find out," McHale said. "Talking about ping-pong balls is like ... well, that's all blind luck. I don't believe wearing a charm will help whatsoever."

Perhaps not. But in search of insight into the Wolves' immediate future, the Star Tribune asked three people to lend their expertise: Phylis Breth who, along with 15 co-workers dubbed the Holdingford Lunch Ladies, split a winning Powerball lottery ticket back in 2003; Douglas N. Arnold, director of the Institute for Mathematics and its Applications and a professor of mathematics at the University of Minnesota; and a professional Twin Cities astrologer named Moonrabbit, whose chart on the team could be revealing.

Shining stars

So is good fortune in the stars for the Wolves?

To find out, we asked Moonrabbit to chart the team, using the day the NBA awarded the franchise as the birth date. The results?

"They were started under a pattern of energy that makes them tend to feel like 'victims of circumstance' or scapegoats," Moonrabbit reported. "The team pattern falls into 'giving their power away' to external forces rather than having a sense of inner power. They also have a tendency to repeat mistakes."

So what about the team's chances for tonight?

"The stars indicate a major disappointment," she said. "I'm afraid there is no immediate change in store for them."

The cold, hard facts

Forget thoughts of conspiracy, Arnold said. Just look at the numbers. Even back in 1992, when the Wolves lost out on Shaquille O'Neal, the chances of the team with the worst record getting the first pick was only 16.7 percent. (Though it should be noted that, starting the following year, the NBA tweaked the lottery so that those odds improved to 25 percent.)

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