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How many wins will the No. 1 pick bring the Wiz?


During several of my recent 9:30 a.m. First Things First chats, readers have asked how much the Wizards figure to improve with John Wall in the fold, and how long it will be until the team returns to the playoffs. These turnarounds don't always take generations in the NBA, but with the Wizards still only having a shell of their future roster, it's impossible to even hazard a guess.

That said, I was curious how quickly previous teams have improved after winning the No. 1 pick, so I went back to check. (If you'd rather just watch highlights of John Wall working out, those are above, via Comcast SportsNet.)

Now, obviously, every team here is different. It's hard to compare a pitiful Clippers team drafting Michael Olowokandi to the David Robinson-led Spurs landing Tim Duncan, or the .500 Magic drafting (and immediately trading) Chris Webber to Portland drafting Greg Oden and then losing him for the season with a knee injury.

Still, over the 20 years since the 1990 draft, you hope a lot of that will wash out, and the larger trends will remain mildly interesting. Here they are.

* In the first year after making a No. 1 overall pick, NBA teams improved by an average of 11.0 wins. That number is severely tilted by the Spurs' 36-win improvement, but the improvement would still be 9.6 wins even without the Spurs.

* In 16 of the past 20 years -- including nine straight times -- the team that made the top pick improved by at least eight wins the following season. Three times over the past 20 years, that team actually regressed.

* In the second year after making a No. 1 overall pick, NBA teams improved by an average of 14.7 wins over their pre-No. 1 pick record.

* In 13 of those years, the team that made the top pick improved by at least 13 wins over that two-year span. Three times over the past 19 years, that team actually lost more games in the second year than they had before drafting first.

* In five of the past 20 years, the team picking first overall went from the lottery to the playoffs in the first year.

* In 12 of the past 20 years, the team picking first overall went from the lottery to the playoffs in either the first or the second year.

* One of the teams that did not make the playoffs in those first two years, of course, was the Kwame Brown-led Wizards. After adding some guy named Michael Jordan, the Wizards went from 19 wins without Kwame to 37 wins in both 2002 and 2003. But that wasn't enough.

(Since the lockout-shortened 1998-99 season was messing with my numbers, I just used winning percentages from that season and then translated them into 82-game win totals. Look, this wasn't really scientific to begin with.)

By Dan Steinberg  |  June 2, 2010; 11:04 AM ET
Categories:  Wizards  
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Next: Chris Webber says Wall will "fall in love" with D.C.

Comments

1000th!

Posted by: DaleGribble | June 2, 2010 12:17 PM | Report abuse

"After adding some guy named Michael Jordan, the Wizards went from 19 wins without Kwame to 37 wins in both 2002 and 2003. But that wasn't enough."

That's only because some guy named "Rip" Hamilton got hurt that year. He stays healthy, the Wiz make the playoffs.

Rip was then traded to Detroit because MJ thought he was too "fragile" for some clown named Stackhouse who couldn't stay healthy either and the rest is history.

- Ray

Posted by: rmcazz | June 2, 2010 12:56 PM | Report abuse

The curse of Les Boulez will strike who ever is the first pick by the Wizards. He will never play a game in the NBA.

Posted by: sheepherder | June 2, 2010 1:54 PM | Report abuse

I felt just like sheepherder in the comments when our Saint Mrs. P got the first pick in the draft, but for some reason I feel differently now. Ted is about to be the owner and this is his second # 1 overall in TWO different leagues! The Bullets might not have been lucky, lord knows the Wiz weren't, but somehow Ted is. He got out of AOL just in time too, so I'm optimistic. Our last # 1 overall, the draft was pretty weak really, Paul Gasol or Shane Battier was the only two, and those weren't sexy picks at the time.

Posted by: Ike1975 | June 2, 2010 5:53 PM | Report abuse

If the Wizards don't sign anyone else, Wall will be dead in his tracks. He won't have any help and he sure as heck is not good enough NOW to do everything even remotely by himself

Posted by: Bious | June 3, 2010 3:13 PM | Report abuse

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