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The Wizards of (Second-Best) Odds

The Wizards have the second-best odds of winning tonight's NBA draft lottery, which is a pretty good position to be in, considering that the team with the second-best chances has won the No. 1 pick on three occasions. As I mentioned in my story today, it happened when Orlando won Shaquille O'Neal in 1992, San Antonio won Tim Duncan in 1997 and the Los Angeles Clippers, um, won (?!) Michael Olowokandi in 1998. It is a bit strange that it hasn't occurred in the past decade, which has seen teams with the fifth- and sixth-best odds win with the lottery as many times as the teams with the best odds (twice). Last year, the Chicago Bulls won with the ninth-best odds.


No, this isn't a crystal ball. I was just saying ... (Photo by Jamie Rose for The New York Times)

When I noticed that the Spurs beat out Boston to get Duncan 12 years ago, it took me back to one of Gilbert Arenas's more controversial comments from last season, when he told Post columnist Mike Wise in November that it wouldn't be such a bad idea for the Wizards' season to go south. He compared it to the year that the Spurs spent the 1996-97 season with David Robinson sidelined.

"This year, with me and Brendan [Haywood] out, some of the veterans are like, 'Man, I don't even know what to think of this year,' " Arenas said. "And I told 'em, 'If this is one of those years we don't make the playoffs, we're one of those teams that's in last place the whole year -- you know that's what happened to San Antonio and that's how they got Tim Duncan. If that happens with us, it's for the better."

If the Wizards can get Blake Griffin out of this draft, it might make the worst season in franchise history a tad more tolerable -- unless he turns out to be another Olowokandi (which I seriously doubt). But I was speaking with an NBA scout recently who said, "If the Wizards get Griffin...whew! I don't know if I want to see that. They would be tough."

The scout thought it would immediately make the Wizards a serious contender in the East and provide some security if they ever decide to do something that Ernie Grunfeld has no intention of doing right now -- moving Antawn Jamison, which is a topic that ESPN's Chad Ford discussed in his lottery breakdown today.

The Wizards have had the second-best odds of winning the lottery once before. In 1995, they used the fourth overall choice to select Rasheed Wallace, which wouldn't have been a bad selection -- he'll probably go down as the second-best player to come out of that draft after Kevin Garnett -- except the Wizards traded him for Rod Strickland after one season.

Washington won the lottery in 2001 with the third-best odds. You can lament over the player that top pick yielded, but I thought Flip Saunders had an interesting quote today: "I told Ernie, the luck of the whole thing doesn't happen with the ping-pong balls. It's who you select."

I want to remind everyone that I will conduct a chat this afternoon at 2 p.m. Feel free to stop by and drop me a line. It should be fun. As for now, I know people are on edge since the Wizards have no control over where they'll pick. But what do you think?

By Michael Lee  |  May 19, 2009; 11:15 AM ET
 
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Next: Wizards Will Pick 5th

Comments

first

Posted by: lilhollywood10 | May 19, 2009 11:34 AM | Report abuse

i hope the wiz get the pick, but it never really works out that way. We get the no.1 for Kwames not Lebrons or Blakes. We'll end up 3rd. It's the curse of les boulez 08-09 edition

Posted by: lilhollywood10 | May 19, 2009 11:37 AM | Report abuse

As much as I would love to see us with the 1st pick, I would be just as glad if OKC gets it. They NEED Griffin more than any other team. KD, Westbrook, Jeff Green and Blake (and Nenad Kristic is a decent center when healthy) would definitely set them up for a lengthy playoff run

Posted by: CBell29 | May 19, 2009 11:48 AM | Report abuse

First

Posted by: lilhollywood10 | May 19, 2009 11:51 AM | Report abuse

lilhollywood - the curse would mean us picking 5th.

Anything higher than 5 and less than 1 is just called DC Sports luck.

I loved reading this from Mike today...

"But I was speaking with an NBA scout recently who said, "If the Wizards get Griffin...whew! I don't know if I want to see that. They would be tough."

Let's go #1 pick!!

Posted by: wizardsextreme1 | May 19, 2009 11:53 AM | Report abuse

OKC/Seattle has wasted picks over the past 5 years or so on big men that didn't pan out. I'd kinda hate on seein them get blake now that the wiz could desprately use him.

Posted by: lilhollywood10 | May 19, 2009 11:54 AM | Report abuse

I'm not going to get my hopes up. It is a lottery. A few more percentage points don't change the fact that it is - by definition - a crapshoot and we tend to end up on the short end of the stick in all games of chance around here. How crazy is it that when we actually did manage to buck the odds we ended up with Kwame Brown? After number one (or maybe number two) it's up to the front office to make the best of the pick. Flip said exactly what needs to be said - it isn't the number of the pick but the player you select. The odds are not overwhelming and luck just doesn't ever seem to work in our favor - EG has to make the best of this by making the right selection regardless of where we end up

Posted by: bullets | May 19, 2009 12:31 PM | Report abuse

In a draft with two players, Griffin and Rubio, it would be the Wizards usual luck to get the #3 overall pick.

Hopefully the rabbit's foot that Ernie carries with him today will bring a bit more luck than that.

Posted by: leopard09 | May 19, 2009 12:34 PM | Report abuse

Even if we do not get Blake Griffin, moving AJ for some value would be the right move. If we get lucky and pick #1, it would be foolish NOT to look for AJ takers. Just don't send him to Cleveland.

Posted by: original_mark | May 19, 2009 12:37 PM | Report abuse

When a home-town player is up for grabs in the #1 slot, the odds seem to have a funny way of working out in the home-team's favor.

I'm thinking of Cleveland and Chicago in recent years. If OKC gets the #1 overall this year, it'll give some good fodder to the conspiracy-minded.

Posted by: JPRS | May 19, 2009 12:38 PM | Report abuse

Just a quick thought...let's suppose Sac ends up with Eddie Jordan as coach and the number one overall, I wonder if they would consider swapping the #1, our top five pick, possibly a future first and AJ for that number one and a SG (Kevin Martin makes the salaries work I think, although that may be asking a little much)...I know, I know, a lot of "ifs" but wouldn't AJ want a vet who knows his system and can still give him 20 and 10 to help coach the young guys (which may include Rubio) through the learning process? Just a thought. Now's the time of year for big dreams, right?

Posted by: bullets | May 19, 2009 12:44 PM | Report abuse

Peeps, this is the Wizards. Don't forget that. First pick? Forgetaboutit!!
If it wasn't for bad luck they would have none at all. Not only won't they get the top pick, they probably wont end up with the 2nd or 3rd either.
But not to worry, Arenas plays less than 20 games next year before going down for good.
Onward and upward.

Posted by: dovelevine | May 19, 2009 12:45 PM | Report abuse

oops, I meant "wouldn't EJ want a vet..."

Posted by: bullets | May 19, 2009 12:45 PM | Report abuse

As much as I would love to see us with the 1st pick, I would be just as glad if OKC gets it. They NEED Griffin more than any other team. KD, Westbrook, Jeff Green and Blake (and Nenad Kristic is a decent center when healthy) would definitely set them up for a lengthy playoff run

Posted by: CBell29 | May 19, 2009 11:48 AM

When a home-town player is up for grabs in the #1 slot, the odds seem to have a funny way of working out in the home-team's favor.

I'm thinking of Cleveland and Chicago in recent years. If OKC gets the #1 overall this year, it'll give some good fodder to the conspiracy-minded.

Posted by: JPRS | May 19, 2009 12:38 PM

If OKC wins the lottery, count me in on the conspiracy.

Posted by: crs-one | May 19, 2009 12:49 PM | Report abuse

Although Thabeet and Rubio are intriguing, I'm not looking forward to seeing a young guy languish on the bench for 3 years while an old school coach talks about him 'not being ready'.

Blake or bust !

Posted by: original_mark | May 19, 2009 12:52 PM | Report abuse


I just wanted to point out that when the Wiz traded away Sheed for Strickland, the Wizards needed a point guard. Mark Price retired and Brent Price wasn't a solid guard. Plus, Strickland was a former all-star with the blazers and the Wiz had both Webber and Howard on their squad so they were stacked at that position. Hindsight is 20/20 but landing a ROY in Webber and a top 5 pick in Howard many teams would have made that trade.

Had to stick up for Wes Unseld..lol, he didn't make many good trades but that one made sense during the time.

Posted by: rcnasa | May 19, 2009 12:55 PM | Report abuse

I predict the Wizards get the #4 pick and package it to Utah for their 1st round pick in 2010 along with Carlos Boozer who will opt out of his contract with Utah and Morris Almond. The Wizards will ship out Etan Thomas and Mike James in return - thus setting into motion another episode of overpay for a guy, watch the guy get injured, sit around and sulk and repeatedly say "we'll get em next time"

Posted by: blackman1 | May 19, 2009 1:10 PM | Report abuse

wiz got the no 1 pick on espn 1st take

Posted by: lilhollywood10 | May 19, 2009 1:26 PM | Report abuse

Here are the probabilities of each picking positions:

1st: 17.8%
2nd: 17.3%
3rd: 16.4%
4th: 27.3%
5th: 21.2%

Now start praying.

Posted by: sagaliba | May 19, 2009 1:35 PM | Report abuse

I'm thinking of Cleveland and Chicago in recent years. If OKC gets the #1 overall this year, it'll give some good fodder to the conspiracy-minded.

Posted by: JPRS | May 19, 2009 12:38 PM

The only difference is that right now, David Stern hates OKC for leaving Seattle. So I'm throwing any conspiracys out the window. Now if the Knicks get it...

Posted by: CBell29 | May 19, 2009 1:36 PM | Report abuse

Not a chance in hell Sacramento, a team deep into ground-floor rebuilding, trades the #1 pick for a 32 year-old making $12+ mill/year with 3 more years on his deal.

Posted by: kalo_rama | May 19, 2009 1:40 PM | Report abuse

"The Wizards have a 17.8% shot [at winning the draft lottery], which is about how often they lost a game by 20 or more points this season." (from the True Hoop blog on ESPN.com)

Yes!

Posted by: yop32 | May 19, 2009 1:44 PM | Report abuse

If it's not Griffin it's gotta be Michael Redd.

Posted by: GshawnJohnson | May 19, 2009 1:55 PM | Report abuse

I don't understand all this speculation about EG trading AJ if we get the 1st pick. Either AJ or Griffin would come off the bench, preferably AJ with Blatche, NY, and Crittendon/James. That's a nice 2nd unit I'd say.

If you get a chance to establish depth, we should utilize it, not trade it away. Abe can pay the luxury tax if need be.....

Posted by: dscottp169 | May 19, 2009 3:05 PM | Report abuse

michael redd? i dunno what would we have to give up? Is redd at 28-30 worth the no 2-5 overall pick in the draft? do we get their pick?

Posted by: lilhollywood10 | May 19, 2009 4:10 PM | Report abuse

redd's last season playing all 82 was 03-04 he was only played more that 72 gms 3 0f the last five years two of those years he played less than 60. his scoring avg is going down and his profile as the league's elite outside shooter has dimmed. Do the wiz heed another oft-injured aging gunner?

Posted by: lilhollywood10 | May 19, 2009 4:15 PM | Report abuse

how on earth do the most people think we get the #1 pick? have they been paying attention to the luck of DC area sports teams? in case they forgot, it's perpetually AWFUL.

Posted by: SadieV | May 19, 2009 4:16 PM | Report abuse

First choice Griffin, second Rubio, third Thabeet, fourth Harden.

If we end up with Griffin, Rubio, or Harden, keep them and try to make it work.

If we end up with Thabeet, see if Houston will go for this trade:

Houston gets Caron, Thabeet, Etan, Mike James, and DeShawn. Wizards get TMac and Battier.

Houston gets Tough Juice's attitude and scoring and shores up the backup center position.

Wizards get more athletic and get rid of a bunch of players who would hopefully never have to play for us again. We also solve the problem of lack of roster spots.

Caron plays more like a hard-nosed Rocket than a softy Wizard. TMac, as an often injured player and only occasional defender, will fit right in with the Wizards.

Posted by: yop32 | May 19, 2009 4:53 PM | Report abuse

I hope the ping pong ball gods prove me wrong and give the Wizards the first pick. Then Abe will have to step up to the plate and pay the luxury tax and I will admit I was wrong when I said he is Ch...

Posted by: bulletsfan78 | May 19, 2009 4:55 PM | Report abuse

rcnasa,

I agree, the BAD trade is Webber for Mitch!

Posted by: sagaliba | May 19, 2009 4:56 PM | Report abuse

u kidding? we got otis thorpe in that deal

Posted by: lilhollywood10 | May 19, 2009 4:58 PM | Report abuse

I wanna see us get at least 1 or 2.
Thabeet I dunno.

I will also be onboard the Conspiracy train if OKC gets #1.

I think Rubio would be fun to watch.
Someone in the later first or early 2nd is gonna be a franchise player.

Hope Flip's good luck medallion works for us.

Posted by: VBFan | May 19, 2009 5:47 PM | Report abuse

Horrible picture of Flip looks like he just hit the bong. Leave Rickey Rubio out of the mix what makes him a top five pick? he's played overseas against who pray tell a bunch of overated Euro's who are sooooooooo fundamentally sound WHATEVER!! if EG drafts him he'll end up like Pechorev and we'll be screaming from now until the next lottery draft.

Posted by: dargregmag | May 19, 2009 6:11 PM | Report abuse

The only difference is that right now, David Stern hates OKC for leaving Seattle. So I'm throwing any conspiracys out the window. Now if the Knicks get it...

Posted by: CBell29 | May 19, 2009 1:36 PM

True! Plus, he can't let it happen two years in a row, that's too obvious.

Let the conspiracy theories live on...

Posted by: crs-one | May 19, 2009 7:38 PM | Report abuse

5th....oh my goodness! Well, there's always next season

Posted by: bullets | May 19, 2009 8:49 PM | Report abuse

the curse continues.

Posted by: tundey | May 19, 2009 8:50 PM | Report abuse

ouch

Posted by: skins1110 | May 19, 2009 8:50 PM | Report abuse

NOOOOOOOOO

Posted by: detox04 | May 19, 2009 8:50 PM | Report abuse

This is ridiculous!

If OK gets #1 it's definite....the draft is fixed.

Posted by: Lisa_R | May 19, 2009 8:51 PM | Report abuse

You have to be f*cking kidding me!

Posted by: Kev29 | May 19, 2009 8:51 PM | Report abuse

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAH!!!!!!!!!!!

This just goes to show how idiotic all you morons were for your non stop discussion of this lottery. We had an 82% chance of not winning it and yet most of you acted like it was 50/50!

Posted by: Barno1 | May 19, 2009 8:51 PM | Report abuse

what a crock

Posted by: bford1kb | May 19, 2009 8:51 PM | Report abuse

Bwahahahah! Lightning strikes the wiz year after year after year

Posted by: ArlingtonHokie | May 19, 2009 8:52 PM | Report abuse

Seriously wtf???

Posted by: OwlWiz | May 19, 2009 8:52 PM | Report abuse

FLUCK !!!

This is some BS.
I haven't even seen who gets #1 yet but it looks like the league wants Blake to play at home in OKC probably.
There are no sure things in this draft after 1 or maybe 2 so we might as well go for the guy with the most potential. This should be a 'reach' pick.

Posted by: original_mark | May 19, 2009 8:52 PM | Report abuse

Looks like we'll be trading, hopefully

Posted by: rxs85 | May 19, 2009 8:52 PM | Report abuse

Ernie should've been there to start trade talks!

Posted by: CBell29 | May 19, 2009 8:52 PM | Report abuse

I'm sad....

Posted by: BillEmm | May 19, 2009 8:53 PM | Report abuse

Griffin a Clipper? Who would've thunk it? This sucks.

Posted by: bullets | May 19, 2009 8:53 PM | Report abuse

Clippers - guarantees that Griffin will bust

Posted by: Kev29 | May 19, 2009 8:54 PM | Report abuse

blake griffin fights dogs while driving drunk. at least im pretty sure i read that some where. (enough of this and maybe he falls to 5)

Posted by: skins1110 | May 19, 2009 8:54 PM | Report abuse

HAHAHAHA!!!!! The Clippers!!!! Blake Griffin just fired his agent so he can go back to school!!!!

Posted by: CBell29 | May 19, 2009 8:54 PM | Report abuse

Guess this makes the choice easy for the Wiz. Hopefully they can move the pick for a solid veteran.

Posted by: JPRS | May 19, 2009 8:54 PM | Report abuse

I really don't understand why so many wiz fans wanted the 1st pick. Getting the 1st pick essentially meant no trade, which mean 11+ million dollars wasted next year on Mike James and Etan Thomas as they sit on the bench writing poems together. Now we will dump the pick and either one of those guys on someone else, creating much needed cap space to sign a veteran front court player.

Posted by: Barno1 | May 19, 2009 8:55 PM | Report abuse

Time to start concentrating on what we have and how we can improve it rather than dreaming about a guy who's gonna come in and save the franchise.
That said, we should have waited and snatched Thibodeau rather than hire the first guy we set our sights on. Flip can't make CB or AJ grow taller or play defense. Our forwards suck at D and will continue to suck at D. Our only hope is running an gunning unless we make a trade.

Posted by: original_mark | May 19, 2009 8:56 PM | Report abuse

Wow are the Wizards a cursed franchise ?
This is BARNO'S Fault. GO Hang Barno !

Posted by: dspinx | May 19, 2009 8:57 PM | Report abuse

5th pick sucks! Trade out of that as quickly as possible. Unless you feel confident in the Flip Saunders 5th pick ala Kevin Garnett theory.

Posted by: jansjay | May 19, 2009 8:57 PM | Report abuse

I think it's safe to say that the lottery isn't fixed - at least this year. Damn.

Posted by: tigerquoll | May 19, 2009 8:57 PM | Report abuse

Maybe, BARNO1, but this draft is thin, so I'm not sure what the Wizards will be able to net in a trade that involves the fifth pick. Trading it and an albatross contract (James or Thomas) would be great. But if you're tossing James or Thomas into a trade, you're not going to get a great return. The Wizards needed the first pick. Anything else, I thought, would be tradeable, so it doesn't bother me they got the fifth selection. I also can't say I'm surprised. This is the Wizards we're talking about.

Posted by: CDon | May 19, 2009 8:58 PM | Report abuse

Well, I guess we can all hope Griffin falls to pick 5 F#^$W^$W^%$^$^%$^%$%$&^%&$#@$@#$@#%%#%#%ck

Posted by: 15600_sknfan | May 19, 2009 8:58 PM | Report abuse

Well, look on the bright side, last time we picked 5th, we drafted Devin Harris and traded him for Jamison which started our run of 4 straight playoffs.

But on a side note, I would love to see them draft Tyreke Evans. Its just something about him that just screams superstar.

Posted by: CBell29 | May 19, 2009 8:59 PM | Report abuse

No one wants this sh*t pick. Just take Curry, at least he's likeable.

Posted by: Kev29 | May 19, 2009 8:59 PM | Report abuse

Trading it and an albatross contract (James or Thomas) would be great. But if you're tossing James or Thomas into a trade, you're not going to get a great return

Posted by: CDon | May 19, 2009 8:58 PM

Do you not understand the concept of a salary dump? What's great that you are "getting in return" is cap space, pal.

Posted by: Barno1 | May 19, 2009 9:00 PM | Report abuse

at least we won the coin toss...

Posted by: Gary22 | May 19, 2009 9:00 PM | Report abuse

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAH!!!!!!!!!!!

This just goes to show how idiotic all you morons were for your non stop discussion of this lottery. We had an 82% chance of not winning it and yet most of you acted like it was 50/50!

Posted by: Barno1 | May 19, 2009 8:51 PM

and what majority were you might I ask? We Wizards fans all enivisioned the #1 pick regardless of the odds and you just seem a bit like unphased as if you never discussed it before. Since coach was fired we been talking about this pick to somebody. So have you discussed tis or not Wizard fan.

Posted by: 15600_sknfan | May 19, 2009 9:05 PM | Report abuse

A much more pressing concern than what pick they landed is the team's gawd-awful uniforms and name for that matter.

If we can't have "Bullets" name back, can we at least get our colors back?! Seriously, the play aside, the Wizards jerseys are utterly repulsive.

Posted by: tomfoley1 | May 19, 2009 9:07 PM | Report abuse

Hey to all the people screaming to tank the season, yeah this is why I kept saying win as many games as possible. The 2 teams directly behind us both jumped over us. Oh and the team with the worst record isn't picking top 3 either. My heart dropped when they showed the Wiz logo at 5. Of course we end up with the worst possible pick we could get. Curse lives on.

Posted by: detox04 | May 19, 2009 9:07 PM | Report abuse

@Barno

I know they're getting cap space in return for that. But they need a player. And yes, I know they can use the newly created cap space to sign someone. But quite frankly, if you're trading the fifth pick in a draft, you're not doing it just so you can clear cap space. Nice to know that nothing's changed with you, though, Barno. I guess it's too hard for you act civilly. Always have to be a jerk no matter what? It's your MO to be sure, but I was hoping you'd changed or matured or something.

Posted by: CDon | May 19, 2009 9:08 PM | Report abuse

@Kev29

Have to disagree with you. I don't think Curry is that likeable at all. Of course, that may also be because I work at a Southern Conference school, and we don't care for Davidson all that much to begin with. But drafting Curry would be a mistake anyway because the guy's game, from what I've seen, won't translate that well into the NBA. He can shoot for sure, but I'm skeptical if he'll be all that effective.

Posted by: CDon | May 19, 2009 9:09 PM | Report abuse

@Barno

I know they're getting cap space in return for that. But they need a player. And yes, I know they can use the newly created cap space to sign someone. But quite frankly, if you're trading the fifth pick in a draft, you're not doing it just so you can clear cap space.

Posted by: CDon | May 19, 2009 9:08 PM

Ok, I'm sorry Don it's sometimes painful reading comments like these. But to make it less painful, would you please do me a favor and tell me what the difference is between trading the pick for a veteran and trading the pick for cap space to sign a veteran? What difference does it make if we get a front court veteran in a trade or if we get him as a result of clearing space in a trade? Please elaborate.

Posted by: Barno1 | May 19, 2009 9:14 PM | Report abuse

Fifth pick -- let's see:

Jordan Hill: long, athletic, possibly a little soft.
James Harden: strong, skilled, shooter, not overly quick or fast
Earl Clark: typical Louisville player -- scores, plays defense, a tweener.
Brandon Jennings: 6 foot jetster
Demar DeRozan: runner/jumper/slasher type.
DaJuan Blair: long of arm, short of stature, mighty thews (thews?)
Chase Budinger: Shooter, not overly quick
Gerald Henderson: athletic Dukie
Stephen Curry: just put this in for the guys who remember last year's NCAA tournament
Tyler Hansbrough: Just put this in for the guys in Clinton MD

Anybody I forgot? Take your pick.

Posted by: Samson151 | May 19, 2009 9:19 PM | Report abuse

@SAMSON151

Yeah, all of them. Trade the pick.

Posted by: jansjay | May 19, 2009 10:16 PM | Report abuse

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