NEW YORK – The New Orleans Hornets, recently sold by the NBA to Saints owner Tom Benson, have won the NBA’s draft lottery and the No. 1 pick overall.
The Hornets, after a difficult season in which they traded All-Star Chris Paul, have a shot to add another superstar, with Kentucky freshman Anthony Davis considered the best player available.
The Hornets moved up from the fourth spot, where they had a 13.7 percent chance, to earn the pick.
The Charlotte Bobcats, after the worst season in NBA history, fell to the No. 2 pick. Washington will pick third and Cleveland fell one spot to fourth.
The league bought the Hornets from owner George Shinn in December 2010 and the sale to Benson was completed in April. The league was criticized for the conflict of interest of a league owning a franchise, particularly when Commissioner David Stern blocked a trade that would have sent Paul to the Lakers in December, then approved another that landed Paul with the Clippers.
The ownership uncertainty hindered the Hornets, but they were in a celebrating mood Wednesday after earning the No. 1 pick for the first time since 1991, when they were still in Charlotte and took Larry Johnson.
The big loser – as usual in their historically bad season – were the Bobcats. They had a 25 percent chance of grabbing the No. 1 pick, but instead will have to take the best player after Davis, college’s player of the year after leading the Wildcats to the national championship.
The team with the worst record hasn’t won since Orlando drafted Dwight Howard in 2004.
(Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)