Monday, May 20, 2013

What are the Odds?

Could Nerlens Noel be on his way to Washington?

It's been three years since the Washington Wizards won the NBA draft lottery (and selected Kentucky guard John Wall.) The Wizards would love to repeat that good fortune, and draft yet another Wildcat... consensus #1 pick Nerlens Noel. In order to do that, the Wizards will need a serious dose of good luck at tomorrow night's lottery: The Wiz have less than a 4% chance of that happening (4.1% to pick second, 4.8% for third) but it pays to have faith.

The Wizards jumped four spots to #1 in 2010, but slipped to third last year. This year, they'll have to move up from eighth overall (their projected spot, if the lottery goes as planned.) The odds of picking eighth are over 70% (ouch) but let's be positive for a minute. If they land a top-three selection, who should they take?

The obvious choice is Noel, who sports a 7'4 wingspan (former Wizard JaVale McGee went 7'6) and could shore up the Wizards' defense for the next decade. With Wall and last year's #1 Bradley Beal in the backcourt, the Wiz need an athletic big to play alongside veterans Nenê and Emeka Okafor. I'd love to see Washington move up to 2 or 3, and select Georgetown SF Otto Porter. Local ties aside, the 6'9 small forward is a defensive stopper with a good mid-range jumper. He doesn't turn 20 until next month, and would fill a glaring hole at the three (Jan Veselý is a bust... deal with it.) The Wizards could also draft DeMatha product Victor Oladipo, who has a ton of potential... but at 6'5, he'd have a hard time guarding the likes of Kevin Durant and LeBron James (who wouldn't?) Highly touted Ben McLemore from Kansas can jump out of the gym, but is the same height as Oladipo.

Assuming they stay put at eighth overall, the Wizards can pick from an impressive group of Anthony Bennett, Alex Len, Cody Zeller, and maybe even Oladipo. Each player has a question mark (Bennett and Len will both be coming off surgeries) but have great upside if things roll their way. 1,000 ping pong balls. The Wizards own 35 of 'em. Cross your fingers. You can catch the lottery live on ESPN tomorrow night at 8:30 PM.