May 2, 2012; Washington, DC, USA; Washington Capitals owner Ted Leonsis watches from the owner's box against the New York Rangers during the third period of game three in the Eastern Conference semifinals of the 2012 Stanley Cup Playoffs at Verizon Center. The Rangers won 2-1 in triple overtime. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-US PRESSWIRE
Since the inception of the Draft Lottery in 1985 (27 seasons ago), the Washington Wizards have missed the NBA playoffs 17 times. Over that time, the Wizards have stayed at the same position in the draft five times, moved up two times (2001 Kwame Brown, and 2010 John Wall) and moved DOWN 10 times.
It's a sad history that we all hope they can break in 2012. While there are plenty of good prospects in the 2-5 range, the real issue with moving down would be that the Wizards' choices would be more limited.
The lottery was especially cruel in 2009, when the Wizards had the second-worst record in the NBA, but ended up with the fifth pick. Had they retained their position and the second pick in the draft that year, Ernie Grunfeld and Co. might not have traded it away, since certainly Ricky Rubio, Stephen Curry and James Harden all would have been available at pick No. 2. At the very least, the Wizards would have been in a better negotiating position and may have been able to obtain a bit more than Mike Miller and Randy Foye.
Moving from the fourth-worst record to the sixth pick in 2011 also limited the Wizards options, almost making it a foregone conclusion that they would draft Jan Vesely, with Jonas Valanciunas already off the board. But even if they still wanted Vesely, picking at No. 4 may have prodded a team like the Cavaliers, Kings or Raptors to swap picks, giving the Wiz an opportunity to get another asset and still pick Vesely.
That's why moving down in the Lottery gives a team a real disadvantage. It limits their choices. In 1995, when the Wizards tied with Minnesota for the second-worst record in the League, they received the fourth pick in the draft. As a result, instead of having the choice between Antonio McDyess, Jerry Stackhouse, Rasheed Wallace and High Schooler Kevin Garnett, their choice was limited to Wallace and Garnett.
So tonight, let's all hope that the odds will even up a bit, and that instead of moving down, the Wizards draft position will move positively. Even if the Wizards don't get the No. 1 pick, a higher pick will create more options than a lower pick.