May 21, 2013

"Winning" The NBA Draft Lottery

I'll keep this post short and sweet. Short because it doesn't take much to say what I have to say tonight. Sweet because about an hour ago, that's what this Tuesday night became.

Tonight the NBA held its 29th Draft Lottery. The Washington Wizards have participated in an astonishingly low 17 of those 29 lotteries. I say astonishing because that previous sentence might imply the Wizards franchise has actually been good the other 12 of those years. In fact, the Wizards have been absent from the Draft Lottery process in that stretch more times due to poor trades than they have due to playoff appearances in the prior season. But make no mistake about it: the Wizards are the big winner in this year's NBA Draft Lottery!

I know...they didn't win the number one pick. That distinction went to the hated Cleveland Cavaliers for the second time in three years. The Cavs, assuming they use the pick, may start the 2013-2014 season with four top five picks in the last three years in their starting lineup. But it doesn't matter. Only the Cavs and Wizards moved up in the Draft order this year. And whereas the Cavs jumped from third to first, the Wizards jumped from eighth to third, a tremendous stroke of good luck for a team that has only moved up two times in its previous 16 Lottery chances.

The 2013 Draft is allegedly a draft class with few superstars, a lot of balance and some highly rated NBA ready guys. If there's one thing the Wizards DON'T need, it's another project from the Draft, meaning they need someone who is NBA ready now. Odds are they can get someone at the three spot who fits that bill (i.e. contributes off the bench immediately) at whatever position they choose. I believe the Wizards need to draft the best player available with the third pick; we lack depth across the whole roster and need backups at the one through five.

The third pick worked out pretty well for us last year. I think Bradley Beal, who represented the team at tonight's Lottery, has the talent and drive to be a significant player in the NBA for years to come. In a draft where the talent drop between the first and third picks may not be significant at all, I'll take the third pick. The difference in salary between the first pick (Anthony Davis) and third pick (Real Deal Beal) in last year's draft was a little more than $1,000,000. Now I'm not looking to penny pinch here but the salary cap is real and owners, including Ted Leonsis, are going to try to avoid exceeding the NBA's luxury tax. That million bucks may come in handy.

Early indications are that the Wiz will select Otto Porter, Jr. out of Georgetown University. I have no idea if that's the right pick to make but I know one thing: I'm excited for Summer League and I'm excited for the start of the 2013-2014 season already. The Cavs may have four top five picks in their starting lineup but I'm optimistic about adding this year's third pick to a lineup featuring John Wall and  Bradley Beal. I don't want to get ahead of myself but maybe our luck is turning.

This may be the most truthful statement written about the Wizards in the last 13 years!

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