If the Wizards win the lottery tonight in New York, the rebuilding process gets expedited and the expectations are raised to a legitimate playoff push. With a front line of Nene and expected No. 1 overall pick Anthony Davis, opposing teams would have a hard time getting shots off and John Wall would be able to rack up assists by feeding the beefy, incredibly skilled Nene in the post or tossing lobs to the lanky, long-armed jumping jack Davis.
Wall worked out with Davis in Lexington, Ky., last season and is very familiar with his game. Davis rarely showcased his offensive talent, with Kentucky Coach John Calipari demanding his big man to play big and stay inside, but Wall has said emphatically before that Davis “can shoot.”
The 6-foot-10 Davis was the consensus national player of the year and claimed most outstanding player honors in the NCAA championship after grabbing 16 rebounds and blocking six shots in Kentucky’s 67-58 victory over Kansas. Expected to have an immediate impact wherever he lands, Davis was recently added to the Olympic talent pool that will begin training in Las Vegas on July 5 (Wall is on the select team).In an interview with ESPN.com’s Andy Katz, Davis took the modest approach to the day that will determine his future. “No one knows who is the No. 1 pick," Davis said. “I don't know if I'm going to be the No. 1 pick. It's just a rumor. But I'm a step closer to reaching my dream of playing in the NBA.”
The Wizards certainly have needs on the perimeter, but the addition of Davis would give them the flexibility to move other players to address those concerns
Though Washington has the second-best odds to win Davis at 19.9 percent, the chances of it actually winning the lottery for the second time in three years seems even more remote. The Wizards had the third-best odds in 2001, when they drafted Kwame Brown and the fifth-best odds in 2010, when they landed Wall. Orlando still remains the only franchise to win the lottery twice in a three-year window – and the Magic won back-to-back lotteries in 1992 (Shaquille O’Neal) and 1993 (Chris Webber).
The Wizards are assured no worse than the fifth overall pick because the lottery determines the top three choices and the remaining teams line up in order after that. Looking at the overall odds, the Wizards have a 56 percent chance of getting one of the top three choices – with an 18.8 percent of staying at two and a 17.1 percent chance of dropping to three. They actually have a greater chance of winning the fourth choice (31.9 percent) and the lowest odds of claiming fifth (12.4).
But the last time the Wizards had the second-best odds was 2009, when the team won a tiebreaker with the Los Angeles Clippers and missed out on selecting Blake Griffin. Instead, the Wizards had the worst-case scenario and got the No. 5 pick, which they used to acquire Mike Miller and Randy Foye. The previous time the Wizards landed the fifth pick, President Ernie Grunfeld used the draft rights to Devin Harris to get Antawn Jamison, which worked out pretty well as the franchise made four consecutive playoff appearances.
The Wizards have had the No. 2 pick twice before, and those choices in 1967 and 1968 yielded half of the retired jerseys at Verizon Center – Earl Monroe and Wes Unseld, respectively. They have had the third pick twice, in 1962 (Billy McGill) and 1963 (Rod Thorn). They have had the fourth pick twice in 1977 (Greg Ballard) and 1995 (Rasheed Wallace). And, they also had the fifth pick in 1964 (Gary Bradds) and 1994 (Juwan Howard).
After Davis, the draft is broken down into several talent groups, and most talent evaluators believe that there is very little separation between the talent that can be found between second and sixth – possibly seventh, depending on the evaluator. Kansas big man Thomas Robinson, Kentucky swingman Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, North Carolina guard Harrison Barnes, Florida guard Bradley Beal and Connecticut big man Andre Drummond are considered to be in the mix for the second group, with Connecticut guard Jeremy Lamb and Baylor’s Perry Jones III also possibilities.
“There is another group of five or six players that go between two and six,” Grunfeld said recently, adding that if the Wizards miss out on Davis “we feel there are some solid players available and that we’ll be able to add a good piece.”
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