Live From Secaucus, N.J.
So apparently the NBA runs a pretty tight ship and sequestered Michael from the time he knew the draft result until the time it went on the air. Here's his report:
A season filled with misfortune and injury was punctuated with more bad luck in the NBA draft lottery on Tuesday. Hoping for a potential franchise building block to add to a team that already boasts three all-stars, the Washington Wizards missed out on getting the No. 1 pick -- or any of the top three selections -- in the June draft.
Instead, the Wizards will have to settle for the fifth pick for the second time in five years. The Los Angeles Clippers, a franchise that has made an almost annual trek to Secaucus the past 25 years, earned the right to draft Oklahoma forward Blake Griffin.
After tying for the worst regular season in franchise history at 19-63, the Wizards appeared to be headed in a positive direction two days later when they won a tiebreaker against the Los Angeles Clippers, giving them the second-best chance of winning the lottery. The Wizards won the tiebreaker but lost the No. 1 pick.
The Wizards had 178 number combinations -- one more than the Clippers -- out of a possible 1,000 for the 14 lottery teams. But since the number combinations are in sequential order, the Wizards theoretically would've won the top pick had they lost the tiebreaker and finished with the third-best odds. As a consolation, the Wizards will get the 32nd pick in the second round, with the Clippers getting the 33rd.
The Clippers won with a number combination of 5,3,6,10. The Wizards had three of those numbers. The Clippers were so lucky that they actually had the first combination for the second overall pick, but that number was tossed aside and later awarded to the Memphis Grizzlies. The Oklahoma City Thunder got the third pick and Sacramento, which had the best odds of winning the lottery, will select fourth.
The Wizards are in the same position they were in the last time they were in the lottery, in 2004, when President Ernie Grunfeld packaged the fifth overall selection (Devin Harris) with Jerry Stackhouse and Christian Laettner to get Antawn Jamison from Dallas. Jamison helped lead the Wizards to four consecutive trips to the playoffs.
New Coach Flip Saunders represented the Wizards at the lottery, with Grunfeld staying behind in Washington. An hour before the lottery, Saunders displayed his sleight of hand, doing magic tricks with his lucky coin, which had an angel on it. Asked if he had similar magic with ping-pong balls, Saunders quipped, "I do if they let me in that room."
Saunders wasn't allowed in the room, but he appears to be a lock at securing the fifth pick. The last time Saunders was in Secaucus, he represented the Minnesota Timberwolves, who slipped to No. 5 in 1995. They used that selection to draft Kevin Garnett. "It's a different situation," Saunders said before the draft. "Our talent pool was not where we wanted to be [in Minnesota]. We really wanted to get an influx of talent right away. At the time of the lottery, the four main guys were Joe Smith, [Antonio] McDyess, Rasheed Wallace and Stackhouse."
The Timberwolves wound up getting the best player of the bunch.
Saunders also said the Wizards are in a great situation because they are hopeful for the healthy return of Gilbert Arenas and Brendan Haywood next season. "We're in a situation, where we get our guys healthy, we got a great nucleus. It's not like we need a young player to come in and carry the team," Saunders said.
The Clippers have won the No. 1 pick on two occasions, drafting Danny Manning in 1988 and Michael Olowokandi in 1998. Griffin, the national college player of the year, is the favorite to go No. 1 in what is considered a weak draft. Ricky Rubio, the promising point guard from Spain, is expected to go second. Other players considered top five selections are Connecticut center Hasheem Thabeet, Arizona State shooting guard James Harden and Arizona forward Jordan Hill.
"I don't know if it's a one-person draft," Saunders said before the lottery. "Every year, there is somebody else involved. [People say] this is the player and all of a sudden, you get a Dwyane Wade who shows up to be an MVP of the NBA Finals. There is going to be a good player."
Or possibly good trade bait.
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