I guess by this point we really shouldn't be surprised, but the Washington Wizards have managed to fail in the draft lottery once again. The Sacramento Kings suffered the greatest disappointment, receiving the 4th pick despite having the league's worst record, but the Wizards' bad news was almost predictable. Even when they don't get dropped in the lottery, they manage to find a way to lose. Let's roll the video tape of the past ten years:
2004 - The Wizards have the 3rd worst record in the NBA, but the lottery pushes the Clippers ahead of them, and the expansion Bobcats take the #2 pick, dropping Washington to the #5 pick. The selection there is Devin Harris, who is traded to Dallas along with Jerry Stackhouse and Christian Laettner for Antawn Jamison. Jamison has ended up being a solid acquisition, thankfully, though it looks like Harris would've been fine as well.
2003 - Washington held the league's tenth worst record, and the draft lottery went pretty much according to plan, giving the Wizards the tenth pick. So while the earlier teams were drafting LeBron James, Carmelo Anthony, Chris Bosh, Dwyane Wade, Chris Kaman, Kirk Hinrich, and T.J. Ford, the Wizards brought Jarvis Hayes to town. Later selections included David West (18), Boris Diaw (21), and Josh Howard (29). Oops.
2002 - Once again, the Wizards hold steady at their prescribed pick (#11). This time, though, it's as if the intriguing players disappear literally right before the Wizards' selection. The last two interesting pieces to go off the board were Amare Stoudemire at nine and Caron Butler at ten (who the Wizards thankfully acquired two trades and several years later). Washington's selection? Jared Jeffries. Try not to vomit.
2001 - Ahh, the year when everything should've fallen right. The Wizards were the third worst team in the NBA, but a couple friendly (?) bounces of the ping pong balls and Washington had the number one pick. This was, of course, a year in which there was no surefire NBA talent, with the closest thing being #6 pick Shane Battier. The eventual top four picks were three high-schoolers (the Wizards' #1 overall pick Kwame Brown, Tyson Chandler, and Eddy Curry) and a European player (Pau Gasol). The only saving grace of drafting Brown, who was a bust on multiple levels, was that we were somehow able to trade him for Caron Butler a few years later. I still don't know why the Lakers were willing to do that trade, but I guess when you have Kobe Bryant, you think everything you touch turns to gold, and Kwame was always a guy high on potential.
2000 - Though the Wizards' pick was traded, it was top three protected, but with the 6th worst record in the league, they weren't likely to hold on to it. They ended up at number seven, and the Bulls received the pick. FYI, they took Chris Mihm with that pick.
1999 - And finally, ten years ago, the Wizards had a nice turn of events on draft day. While they dropped from sixth to seventh as a result of Charlotte lucking into the #3 pick (and Baron Davis), Washington was able to nab Richard Hamilton. He was a productive scorer for the Wizards for several years, and ended up being one of three former Wizards/Bullets to be in the starting lineup for the 2003-2004 NBA Champion Detroit Pistons (Ben Wallace and Rasheed Wallace were the other two).
The early draft projections have Arizona State guard James Harden or Arizona forward Jordan Hill going to the Wizards, but I've also heard that the Wizards' cap situation has them itching to trade the pick if they can. All I can say is that the $120 million man Gilbert Arenas had better be healthy this season, or public opinion may turn in a hurry. With Arenas healthy, the Wizards are a playoff team. If he can't stay on the court again, we're probably looking at another bottom 5 finish.
(This post was started in August; I lost direction for a while, and obviously we've got some new information, a la the actual gameplay, ...
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