Tonight, the Phoenix Suns try to get lucky and move up in the draft for the first time since 1987. There are two ways to move up - via the lottery system, or via trade. The Suns have benefited from the lottery system only once (1987, Armen Gilliam) and have rarely drafted higher than their record-based slot.
The Suns did acquire Atlanta's future #1 pick in 2005, which finally conveyed to Phoenix in 2008 as 15th overall (Robin Lopez). But they have never made a draft-day trade to move up to get a player they liked.
Other than those three times, the Suns stayed right where they were to take the best player.
The Suns have the 4th-highest chance to move up to the top-3 pick tonight - nearly 33% overall.
Their chance to get #1 overall: 11.9%
Chance for #2: 12.2%
Chance for #3: 13.3%
Lon Babby will represent the Suns tonight in the lotto room.
"My grandson (Josh) is playing on a T-Ball team at age 4 so he's got a little baseball card. I got him to sign it for me so he wrote his name on it. I'll have it in my pocket," Suns President of Basketball Operations Lon Babby said to Arizonasports.com.
"I don't know if he's good luck, but I always like having his picture with me, anyway. That will be my good luck charm."
So, no personal superstitions?
"I didn't say that. Everybody is superstitious," he said. "I used to have a lucky pair of pants that I wore for every exam in college. The trouble is they don't fit anymore.
"The other thing is," Babby continued, "I'm going to stay as close as I can to (Orlando Magic senior vice president) Pat Williams because he's won it four times (with the Philadelphia 76ers in 1986 and the Magic in 1992, 1994 and 2004). I'm going to see if I can touch him a couple of times just to get some good luck."
On the opposite end of the move-up spectrum, the Suns have traded away at least one first round pick a whopping ELEVEN times (1990, 1991, 1997, 2001, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2010, 2012) in the last 26 years, since Gilliam was drafted in 1987. The 2008 and 2012 picks were "second" picks, later in the first round. But still. Gulp.
Since the draft lottery came to fruition in time for the 1985 draft, the Suns have been bad enough to get ping pong balls ten times, including this year (1985, 1986, 1987, 1988, 1999, 2004, 2009, 2011, 2012 and 2013).
While the Suns have never drafted #1 overall in their existence, twice the Suns have drafted as high as #2 overall. The first time, they lost out on Lew Alcindor on a coin flip (settling for Neal Walk at #2 overall).
The second time, the Suns moved up to second overall in the 1987 lottery. The Suns lost out on David Robinson, instead taking Armen Gilliam #2 overall in 1987.
No matter what happens tonight, the Suns will draft no worse than 7th overall. This guarantees the Suns their highest selection since Tim Perry in 1988 - 25 years ago.
Other top-7 picks - besides Walk and Gilliam - include Corky Calhoun (4th, 1972), John Shumate (4th, 1974), Alvan Adams (4th, 1975), Walter Davis (5th, 1978), William Bedford (6th, 1986), Tim Perry (7th, 1988).
The lottery drama begins at 5:30pm AZ Time on ESPN, with picks revealed in inverse order. Start paying attention immediately. The Suns begin in 4th position overall. If a later team jumps ahead of the Suns, then the Suns will drop to as low as 7th unless they too win a higher spot.