In representing the Washington Wizards at Tuesday’s NBA draft lottery in Chicago, Monumental Sports Vice Chairman Raul Fernandez brought a good-luck charm: a Washington Capitals Stanley Cup championship ring. But not even a token from Washington’s first major pro sports championship in decades could break the Wizards’ bad luck streak.
Washington drew the No. 9 pick at the lottery event in what was nearly a worst-case scenario for the franchise. The Wizards had a much higher chance of falling somewhere in the top eight spots for the draft, which will be held June 20 in New York, but three teams with worse odds — the Los Angeles Lakers, Memphis Grizzlies and lottery-winning New Orleans Pelicans — leapfrogged the Wizards in the draft order.
“Like everyone this is always the night that you hope to get a great pick and move up and we didn’t get that,” Wizards Coach Scott Brooks said in Chicago. “But it’s not the end of the world. We’re going to get a good player.
"This draft is good, and every year there’s always players in the draft. You’ve got to be able to find that player and make him fit with what we do but we’re excited about. Ninth pick — we’re going to get a player that’s going to help us win games.”
Statistically, the Wizards had just a 3.8 percent chance at falling to the ninth spot. They had a 9.2 percent chance at drawing second, a 9.4 percent chance at drawing third and a 9.6 percent chance at drawing fourth. Tenth was the lowest they could slip, and those odds were just 0.2 percent. The chances were much better that they would land at the more-palatable seventh (29.6 percent) or even eighth (20.6 percent) slot. They had a 9 percent shot at the No. 1 pick, which the Pelicans received and will almost certainly use to select Duke’s Zion Williamson. The Wizards last won the draft lottery in 2010, drafting John Wall out of Kentucky first overall.
Washington could consider trading the ninth selection to acquire more picks. The Wizards, who haven’t drafted in the lottery since taking Otto Porter Jr. third overall in 2013, have just the single pick next month and won’t have a second-round choice until 2023 because of past trades. Last year, the team picked just outside the lottery, grabbing Troy Brown Jr. out of Oregon with the 15th selection.
The Wizards have picked ninth just once since the draft lottery was introduced in 1985, when they took Tom Hammonds out of Georgia Tech in 1989. He spent the first three years of his career with Washington.
Players expected to go toward the bottom half of the first 14 picks include Duke small forward Cam Reddish, Gonzaga power forward Brandon Clarke, Texas Tech shooting guard Jarrett Culver and Kentucky power forward P.J. Washington.
Whomever the Wizards bring aboard this time around, he’ll be joining the franchise at a crossroads. Washington has only six players under contract for the 2019-20 season, including Wall, who is expected to miss most if not all of next year as he recovers from Achilles’ tendon surgery.
The Wizards have also not named a new president of basketball operations after firing Ernie Grunfeld more than a month ago. Interim president Tommy Sheppard has handled the day-to-day responsibilities and attended the lottery in Chicago along with Fernandez. Sheppard will also represent the Wizards during the draft combine later this week.
Candace Buckner in Chicago contributed to this report.
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