The Washington Wizards were in desperate need of some good fortune. The team, which recently fired its longtime GM, Ernie Grunfeld, finished the 2018-19 season 32-50 after losing star guard John Wall to a ruptured left Achilles tendon. As they are currently constructed, the Wizards are good enough to make the playoffs but do not appear to have the talent needed to contend for a championship. They’re locked into several huge contracts, which will make it difficult for any new GM to maneuver and turn things around quickly.
So heading into the NBA Draft Lottery on Tuesday, the Wizards were hoping for some good luck. The Wiz had the sixth-best odds to get the number one overall pick and land superstar Zion Williamson. Monumental Sports and Entertainment owner Raul Fernandez even brought some bling out to Chicago to help the stars align.
He wore his Capitals Stanley Cup championship ring.
— NBC Sports Wizards (@NBCSWizards) May 14, 2019
“Look, just like any other business, tonight’s the night is to add a great professional, a great talent to the team, and so hopefully we get the top pick,” Fernandez said to NBC Sports Washington’s Chris Miller. “And then we’re just going to continue to build, get our guys healthy, and hopefully get back, compete, and win games.
“One of the most exciting things I was a part of was winning a championship with the Washington Capitals,” Fernandez continued, holding up his ring. “I just remember how great that was and I want to do that over and over again with both teams.”
Miller asked if it was his good luck charm.
“That is one of them,” Fernandez said smiling. “It’s definitely one of them.”
Unfortunately, whatever good mojo Raul tried to muster did not coalesce inside the NBA’s lottery ball machine. The Washington Wizards fell to ninth overall, watching three other teams leapfrog ahead of them.
According to Bullets Forever’s Jake Whitacre, the Wizards’ three-spot tumble was very unlikely.
They had less than a 40 percent chance of moving up into the top four, so getting stuck in the bottom half of the top ten isn’t a surprise, but falling to ninth is rough. Washington came into the lottery with better odds of moving up to one (9.0 percent) than they did of moving down to nine (3.8 percent), but that’s what happened thanks to the Lakers, Grizzlies, and Pelicans all moving up into the top four.
It was essentially a worst-case scenario.
The Wizards getting the 9th pick was essentially the worst-case scenario tonight. They had a chance for 10th, but only 0.2 percent odds.
— Chase Hughes (@ChaseHughesNBCS) May 15, 2019
Since the Capitals won the Stanley Cup, the other major DC Sports Teams have not followed in their footsteps. The Wiz lost Wall and missed the playoffs. Redskins’ quarterback Alex Smith grotesquely broke his leg during a game and may never play again. They too missed the playoffs. And despite a deep pool of talent, the Nationals missed the playoffs last year and have had a tough start to the 2019 season, firing their pitching coach early on.
After the first 3 of 4 lottery numbers were drawn, the Pelicans had the most winning combinations, followed by the Wizards. In the room, Washington's Tommy Shepherd tracked numbers & knew exactly how close franchise came to winning the Zion draft. Later, he declined comment.
— Ben Golliver (@BenGolliver) May 15, 2019
Headline photo: NBC Sports Washington
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