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.)
June 2, 2010; 11:04 AM ET
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