The look on Kevin Durant's face said it all. The player known as K-Smooth looked shocked, confused and disappointed. Durant, after toiling through a franchise-worst 20-win season highlighted only by his Rookie of the Year Award, could have used a reversal of fortune at the NBA Draft Lottery on Tuesday night. Instead, lottery luck escaped him and his Seattle SuperSonics franchise. The Sonics will have the fourth selection in the June 26 NBA Draft, one slot better than the worst possible outcome the team could have had and two positions worse than where the team was slated to pick before the order was determined. The Chicago Bulls, with only a 1.7 percent chance of getting the top selection, won the No. 1 overall pick. The Miami Heat, which had the best chance at the first pick, will select second. The Minnesota Timberwolves will select third. With the fourth pick, the Sonics likely won't have a chance to draft either of this year's two prized prospects, Kansas State forward Michael Beasley or Memphis point guard Derrick Rose, both of whom have long been the consensus top two picks. "Surely everyone would love to have the No. 1 pick in any lottery,” said Sonics General Manager Sam Presti in a telephone interview shortly after the lottery's announcement. "But we're excited to have the opportunity to add another talented player to our team and continue to build on the foundation that we have in place.” Durant, who the Sonics drafted last year after winning the No. 2 overall selection despite being slated to select fifth, was visibly more disappointed. Although Durant couldn't be reached for comment Tuesday night, the team's top five selection next month was supposed to usher in a player the Sonics will surround Durant with for the foreseeable future. But there is a steep drop off in talent after Rose and Beasley, talent evaluators say, and the Sonics must now make the best out of Plan B. "Draft's are always dynamic in nature, and you have to find ways to try to improve your team,” Presti said. "And a lot will depend on what happens in front of you. We'll make the best decision that we can for our organization based on the work that our scouting staff has put together throughout the year.” A second tier list of players is beginning to emerge, however, and if the Sonics stand pat at four it's likely they will select from that group. It includes, USC guard O.J. Mayo, Arizona guard Jerryd Bayless, Stanford center Brook Lopez, Indiana guard Eric Gordon and UCLA forward Kevin Love. The Sonics' two biggest needs position needs are at point guard and center and the team could also use another consistent scorer alongside Durant. Of the aforementioned players, Mayo, Bayless, Gordon and Lopez would be the most likely candidates at No. 4. At least one of those prospects is likely to be selected third by Minnesota. Draftexpress.com currently has the Sonics selecting Bayless with the fourth pick. "You've got some guys after (Beasley and Rose) that have the potential to be that good but have a little more intrigue or more holes to fill,” said NBADraft.net President Aran Smith. "Guys like O.J. Mayo, some teams really like him. Guys like Bayless. There's a number of guys that are young and have a lot of potential. The potential is there. Whether they can live up to all the hype and become that great a player we'll have to see.” The Sonics also own the Phoenix Suns' first-round pick, the 24th overall selection, and have four picks in the second round. Notable players who have been selected at No. 4 are Chris Paul, Chris Bosh, Lamar Odom, Antawn Jamison, Stephon Marbury, Rasheed Wallace, Jamal Mashburn, Chuck Person, Glen Rice and Byron Scott. Notables at No. 24 include Delonte West, Andrei Kirilenko, Derek Fisher, Sam Cassell, Latrell Sprewell, Rick Fox and Arvydas Sabonis and Terry Porter. "We have to continue to do our work and make the best decision that we can,” Presti said.
Chicago Bulls executive vice president of business operations Steve Schanwald gives a No. 1 sign after winning the NBA Draft Lottery, giving the Bulls the number one pick in the draft. Associated press