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Knicks again have no luck in NBA's Draft Lottery

Knicks president Leon Rose watches his team play

Knicks president Leon Rose watches his team play against the Oklahoma City Thunder during the first half at Madison Square Garden on Friday, Mar. 6, 2020. Credit: Jim McIsaac

The Knicks have been regulars at the NBA Draft Lottery, equipping the team representative with a good-luck charm each time. But no matter what they have tried to utilize to change their fortunes, karma has caught up with them and left them faltering in the lottery ever since the team won the very first one.

In 1985, armed with a horseshoe, general manager Dave DeBusschere presided over the Knicks’ celebration as they got the rights to draft Patrick Ewing amid a lingering belief of a conspiracy to land the consensus No. 1 pick. Since then, they’ve tried an assortment of trinkets, including DeBusschere’s championship rings from his playing days, and have come up empty every time.

On Thursday night, the Knicks sent new team president Leon Rose out to the virtual stage, armed with a lucky bracelet. But the results were the same: The Knicks dropped two spots from the sixth spot they held going into the night. That left them with the No. 8 pick in the 2020 NBA Draft, which will be held Oct. 12.

The top pick went to the Minnesota Timberwolves, with the Golden State Warriors at No. 2 and the Charlotte Hornets and Chicago Bulls jumping the Knicks for the Nos. 3 and 4 spots.

The Knicks have been in the lottery 17 times since that Ewing lottery in 1985, and not once have they moved up. They remained in place 10 times and dropped back seven times.

Unlike last summer, when the Knicks had the worst record in the league and dropped to No. 3, this time the odds were against them moving up. They had a 9% chance of grabbing the top spot. The highest probability was for them to go No. 7 and then the next highest probability was No. 8 at 20.9%.

For luck, Rose wore a bracelet made for him by New Jersey teen Antonio Sellers, who already had provided a measure of luck to the Knicks this year. Sellers, who was a high school basketball player before being diagnosed with a brain tumor, was at Knicks practice as part of the Garden of Dreams Foundation and Make-A-Wish on March 1. He met with RJ Barrett, who had played for Duke, which is Sellers’ favorite team, and gave him a bracelet.

The next day, Sellers was at the Knicks game and made sure Barrett still was wearing the bracelet. Barrett wore it and the Knicks upset the Houston Rockets in Rose’s first game as team president.

Among the prospects, LaMelo Ball could have the highest upside. Georgia’s Anthony Edwards, Memphis freshman James Wiseman and Dayton’s Obi Toppin also have been mentioned as possible No. 1 overall picks.

The Knicks have a wide-open roster, with Barrett the only sure building block. Mitchell Robinson, a second-round choice two years ago, is raw, but maybe the only other foundation piece on the roster. Ball, Cole Anthony, Tyrese Haliburton and Killian Hayes all could fill the team’s hole at point guard.

Rose hasn’t given a hint of which direction he’ll go with the pick, but the Knicks also have the No. 27 overall pick (from the Clippers) and Charlotte’s second-round pick at No. 38.

NBA commissioner Adam Silver, speaking on ESPN, said his initial plan to have next season begin Dec.1 is “feeling a little bit too early for me,” pointing out that the goal is still to have fans in arenas.

2020 NBA Draft Lottery

1. Minnesota

2. Golden State

3. Charlotte

4. Chicago

5. Cleveland

6. Atlanta

7. Detroit

8. Knicks

9. Washington

10. Phoenix

11. San Antonio

12. Sacramento

13. New Orleans

14. Boston (from Memphis)

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