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Current NBA players hate talk about lottery odds

SALT LAKE CITY — Don't tell the Orlando Magic or the Utah Jazz that their game Saturday night will have serious NBA Draft Lottery implications for both franchises.

For months, there have been whispers in the media and from some fans that a few rebuilding teams would be better off by losing this season to improve their lottery odds.

"It's stupid," Jazz forward and 13-year NBA veteran Richard Jefferson said. "It's like urban legends. How many times do you see a top-three pick not pan out? How many times do you see a No. 1 pick not pan out? At the end of the day, you need to develop the guys that you have. You need to build a winning tradition, and you need to build winning habits starting within your organization.

"Any fan that thinks their team is better off losing, you don't understand," Jefferson added later. "You're going to teach Alec Burks and Trey Burke and Gordon [Hayward], 'Oh, we want to lose right now so we can get a better player?' Well, if you do get a better player and you teach these guys losing habits, where's your organization going to be then?"

Magic center Nik Vucevic said he hasn't heard anyone in the media or any fan suggest the Magic would be better off losing.

"Everybody has their own opinion, but me personally and this team, we don't plan to do that," Vucevic said. "We want to win as many games as we can. Obviously, we haven't done a great job of it this year, but we're competitors and we want to win."

The Magic (19-50) will enter the game with the third-worst record in the NBA while the Jazz (22-47) own the fourth-worst record.

In the NBA Draft Lottery, which will be held May 20, there is a significant difference in the odds for the third- and fourth-worst teams.

The team that finishes with the third-worst record will enter the lottery with a 15.6 percent chance of winning the first pick, a 15.7 percent probability of obtaining the second pick and a 15.6 percent likelihood of receiving the third pick.

But while the team with the third-worst record will have a 69.5 percent chance of winning a top-four pick in the lottery, the team with the fourth-worst record will have a 47.7 percent probability of receiving a top-four pick.

The 2014 NBA Draft is supposed to be one of the best drafts in years, and it could include Kansas center Joel Embiid, Kansas swingman Andrew Wiggins, Duke swingman Jabari Parker, Australian guard Dante Exum and Kentucky power forward Julius Randle.

The Milwaukee Bucks and the Philadelphia 76ers are so awful that they're all but certain to finish the season with the two worst records in the league.

The worst team can exit the lottery with no worse than the fourth overall pick. The second-worst team can receive no worse than the fifth overall pick.

Current NBA players can't afford to buy into that kind of discussion.

"I don't really pay attention too much to that talk," Magic forward Tobias Harris said. "Obviously, it's going to be said around. But as basketball players, our goal is to go out there and win and to get better night-in and night-out."

Jazz coach Tyrone Corbin was more blunt.

"It makes your skin crawl," Corbin said. "It makes your skin crawl as a competitor, personally, but it seems to be a popular thing nowadays with some people if media and whoever drives it drives it. But I played in this league.

"As a player," Corbin added later, "I always thought about being the best I can be and making the most of the situation I'm in."


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