NEW YORK (Reuters) - The Washington Wizards drew the first pick in next month's NBA Draft, winning Tuesday's lottery despite having the fifth best chance at securing the top choice, while NBA-worst New Jersey Nets had to settle for third.
Washington, 26-56 in the regular season, cashed in on their 10.3 percent chance among the 14 clubs eligible for the weighted lottery for clubs that failed to make the playoffs.
The second choice went to the Philadelphia 76ers (27-55), who had only a 5.3 percent representation in the drawing.
The Nets, who stumbled to a 12-70 regular season record, had a 25 percent chance of snaring the number one overall pick, widely expected to be Kentucky point guard John Hall.
Ohio State forward Evan Turner is also considered a possible top selection by draft experts.
"This is a great night for our franchise and particularly for our fans," Wizards president Ernie Grunfeld said in a statement.
"They have shown great support and passion during what has been a difficult stretch over the last two seasons, but they can celebrate tonight knowing that we've taken a big step toward building the team that they deserve."
Representing the Wizards was Irene Pollin, widow of Abe Pollin, the franchise patriarch who died in November.
Pollin, who will be turning the franchise over to new owner Ted Leonsis after her recent sale of the team, wore her late husband's team championship ring from their 1978 NBA triumph for good luck at the lottery drawing.
"I'm so glad I have this ring on because my husband, I think, is really here," she told a TV interviewer. "His spirit is here."
(Reporting by Larry Fine, Editing by Rex Gowar)