They toss the ping-pong balls into the hopper -- well, not really, it's just a metaphor -- in about six hours in the NBA's annual game of chance.

Will the Wolves finally get what they deserve?

That is, of course, the No. 1 overall pick.

They have the greatest chance -- 25 percent -- of anybody to get it, but remember only two teams with the best chance have ever ended up getting No. 1: Cleveland in 2003 (LeBron James) and Orlando in 2004 (Dwight Howard).

Fatalistic Wolves fans know for certain already what pick their team will get.

No. 3.

That's because this already is being billed as a two-player draft -- Duke's Kyrie Irving and Arizona's Derrick Williams -- so of course the Wolves will get No. 3.

Just like they got No. 3 in 1992, when they finished with the league's worst record and walked away with Christian Laettner rather than Shaquille O'Neal or Alonzo Mourning. Or in 1994, when they fell from third to fourth in the lottery and got Donyell Marshall after Glenn Robinson, Jason Kidd and Grant Hill went 1-2-3.

Of course, it's never just a one-player or two-player or three-player draft.


And this time, Turkish center Enes Kanter, who went to Kentucky but never played there, or somebody else could turn out better than either Irving or Williams.

In fact, Kanter could move into the top 2 by next month's draft night, depending on pre-draft workouts, tonight's lottery results and a team's needs.

Even if the Wolves get the No. 1 pick tonight, some Wolves fans conditioned to be disappointed every draft lottery might lament their team's good luck to finally win in a year where a point guard (Irving) looks like the consensus No. 1 pick.

That's a position, of course, that isn't a pressing need IF the Wolves can get Ricky Rubio to sign on the dotted line.

I asked David Kahn a couple weeks ago what he does if the Wolves get that No 1 pick.

I don't remember his answer precisely, but it included a mention of dancing and partying all night.

Timberwolf Nation just might go ballistic if Kahn gets the chance to draft Irving and then trades that pick because he's already committed emotionally and perhaps soon contractually to Rubio.

Buckle up because it's likely Kahn will try to do just that: Trade the pick, even if it's No. 1 overall, for a veteran or veterans and perhaps a pick later in the lottery.

They're looking for a more athletic center -- think unrestricted Tyson Chanlder or restricted DeAndre Jordan on the free-agent market.

They need, whether they think so or not, a starting two guard.

And expect them to inquire again (they did so before the trade deadline) about Steve Nash because they'd also like a veteran point guard -- I guess Luke Ridnour doesn't count -- who can stabilize such a young roster and mentor Rubio, although I have a hard time envisioning Nash agreeing to play here or even the Suns agreeing to trade him here.

One other question, of course: Who will coach these guys next season, when there is one.

That finally should become clear in the next week, at least as far as whether Rambis will be back or not.

Kahn is expected to meet with Kurt Rambis' agent later this week in Chicago at the NBA's version of a draft combine.

If Rambis returns, expect it will be with assurances that he'll simplify his offense, emphasize defense and communicate better with players. It also probably will be with a new coaching staff, including a newly hired defensive specialist.