You may not be aware of this revelation, but the Washington Wizards' 2008-2009 season didn't go very well. But the regular season is in the rear-view mirror, and it's time to start preparing for next season. That start begins tomorrow night with the NBA Draft Lottery.
The Wizards, who tied for the second-worst record (19-63) in the NBA with the L.A. Clippers, won the tie-breaker a few weeks ago and possess one more ping-pong ball (and a 0.1 percent better chance!) than the Clippers. With that extra ball, the Wizards have a 17.8 percent chance to land the top pick (and a 34.8 percent chance to land the number one or number two selection). And if you're curious what 17.8 percent looks like, you should go here.
Many people are of the opinion that if the Wizards do not land the first or second pick, then they will look to trade the pick in some sort of package of young players and expiring contracts to land a solid veteran or two. Some want them to keep the pick no matter what and draft a young player. And others don't really care because they figure it's the Wizards, so something horrible is going to happen. The NBA: Where overpowering pessimism happens!
My take: If the Wizards get the number one pick, they'll select Blake Griffin. If they get the number two pick, they'll take Ricky Rubio. And if they get anything lower, they'll try as hard as possible to trade for an upgrade at shooting guard or in the frontcourt.
But I do agree with Bullets Forever's Pradamaster that it would still be wise, even if a trade is made, to remain in the first round instead of trading out of it altogether. This draft certainly looks to be top-heavy with Griffin and Rubio ahead of the pack, followed by a combination of guys like James Harden, Hasheem Thabeet, Tyreke Evans, Jordan Hill, Brandon Jennings, and Demar DeRozan, etc.
If one thing is clear, it's that the Wizards don't really have a whole lot of time to work on building a winner; this is the team that Ernie Grunfeld has built. As of this moment, Gilbert Arenas, Caron Butler, and Brendan Haywood are all healthy. Antawn Jamison recently had surgery to remove a bone spur in his right ankle, but he's tough and should recover and be 100 percent in time for the season. If that group remains on the court, the Wizards will be tough to beat. Add in reinforcements like Blake Griffin/Ricky Rubio, Dominic McGuire, Nick Young, Javaris Crittenton, Darius Songaila, DeShawn Stevenson, JaVale McGee, and Andray Blatche, and the Wizards could potentially have a deep team. Of course, if a trade is made, some of the younger pieces could be moved for better overall talent.
After the lottery, the Wizards should have a much better idea of what to do. But if they aren't picking first or second, Grunfeld will be faced with a difficult decision. If that happens, there really won't be a right answer on which move to make. And with a healthy team, there won't be any more excuses left next season no matter how things unfold tomorrow night.