Bulls awarded No. 1 pick in June's NBA draft

May 21, 2008 - 3:02 AM SECAUCUS, New Jersey (Ticker) -- The debating war over Derrick Rose and Michael Beasley can now begin in the Windy City.

On Tuesday night, the Chicago Bulls were awarded the No. 1 overall pick in next month's NBA draft, defying the odds with just a 1.7 percent chance of landing the top choice.

The draft will be held June 26 at New York's Madison Square Garden.

Chicago (33-49) vaulted from the ninth spot - based on its record in the regular season - to get its second top selection since taking Elton Brand No. 1 out of Duke in the 1999 draft.

"Having the pick puts you in a unique position to make your team better," Chicago executive vice president of basketball operations John Paxson said. "I certainly understand this was pure luck. Now it's our job to make the most of it."

The Bulls suffered through a dismal 2007-08 season that saw them fire coach Scott Skiles and interim coach Jim Boylan, leaving the front office in search of a new leader.

"After this season, we needed a break and I think we just got one (Tuesday)," said Bulls executive vice president of business operations Steve Schanwald, who represented the team at the lottery.

The Miami Heat (15-67), who finished with the worst record in the league, will be choosing second while the Minnesota Timberwolves (22-60) rounded out the top three teams.

A native of Chicago, Rose led Memphis to a runner-up finish in the NCAA Tournament, coming up short in overtime to Kansas in the National Championship Game. The 6-3 point guard averaged 14.9 points and 4.5 assists in his freshman season.

Kansas State's Beasley posted one of the most impressive campaigns for a first-year player, averaging 26.2 points and 12.4 boards.

"Those two names are the guys who are at the top right now," Paxson said. "I've learned in watching other people prepare you have to go about your business. We'll have an opportunity to get those guys in as well as others. We'll get to know them, and take a long look at what makes the most sense for our basketball team."

The Heat had the best chance of earning the choice between the two top prospects by virtue of their worst season in club history. Just two season removed from an NBA title, Miami sent center Shaquille O'Neal packing via trade and dealt with injuries to guard Dwyane Wade.

Only twice have teams with the worst record won the draft lottery since the current format started in 1994.

Minnesota claimed its highest draft pick in 16 years, marking the first time in franchise history it entered with the third overall selection. The Wolves have had just two top-five picks since.

"While much of the attention surrounding this lottery has been on the top two picks, there is still an excellent pool of talent to choose from in this draft and we're confident that we'll be adding a player who can provide a nice boost to our team," Minnesota vice president of basketball operations Kevin McHale said.

"Our goal remains to put the Wolves back among the NBA's elite teams and the third pick in this year's draft will be a valuable asset as we continue down that road."

The Seattle SuperSonics (20-62) fell to the fourth pick after having the second-best chance of claiming the top spot. The Sonics added two key pieces in last year's draft with reigning Rookie of the Year Kevin Durant and Jeff Green.

"We're very excited about securing the No. 4 pick in the upcoming draft," Seattle general manager Sam Presti said. "This is a great opportunity to continue to add to our core group of players and build a strong foundation for this franchise."

The Sonics also own the 24th overall pick and four in the second round, giving them six selections - the most of any team.

They were followed by the Memphis Grizzlies (22-60), New York Knicks(23-59), Los Angeles Clippers (23-59) and Milwaukee Bucks (26-56).

With the Charlotte Bobcats (32-50) falling to the ninth pick, it allowed the Bulls to springboard into a top-three selection.

The New Jersey Nets (34-48), who had limited investor and rapper Jay-Z as their representative, will select 10th with the Indiana Pacers (34-46), Sacramento Kings (38-44), Portland Trail Blazers (41-41) and Golden State Warriors (48-34) rounding out the 14 teams.

The remaining 16 draft picks will be based upon inverse order of the final regular-season standings.