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Who would Wizards draft if they luck into No. 1 pick?

Who would Wizards draft if they luck into No. 1 pick?

The chances that the Wizards luck into the No. 1 pick in the NBA’s draft lottery is 0.6%, which is basically next to impossible. The official answer will come Tuesday, but in case they were to be so fortunate to keep the pick it would be LSU’s Ben Simmons.

If the Wizards don’t jump up to the top three in the lottery, they’ll stay at 13th. Because their pick is top-9 protected, that would mean it’ll go to the Phoenix Suns who sent them Markieff Morris at the trade deadline. Morris essentially, 26, and a quality starting power forward essentially becomes their draft pick. 

In the event the unthinkable were to happen, their decision will be made easy if they choose to keep the No. 1 pick though assets it could bring in a trade for help now and later could be intriguing.

A lot of doubt has been raised since LSU’s season ended without an NCAA Tournament berth and a 19-14 record, and the pitchforks have been out en masse to assassinate Simmons’ character.

According to several NBA scouts who saw Simmons and former LSU players still close to the program in conversations with CSNmidatlantic.com, most of that either isn’t true or overblown. How else can coach Johnny Jones' staff explain those results unless Simmons isn't painted as a problem child? What player his age wouldn’t need to be knocked down a few pegs for having a big head? He’s no cancer or bad teammate.

Simmons entered his freshman season out of Australia amid spectacular hype. He averaged 19.2 points, 11.8 rebounds and 4.8 assists. He’s the first player in SEC history, since statistics were kept starting in 1969, to be in the top five in each category.

With the NBA’s draft combine taking place in Chicago – Simmons didn’t attend – the chatter begins anew on who’ll be the top pick.

Duke’s Brandon Ingram, a 6-9 small forward, is the one who could unseat Simmons from the perch. If he does, it's because he's perceived as having the higher ceiling as a player and not the other noise. Simmons is 6-10 and projected to be a small/power forward.

Simmons' shooting range has to improve. He can get stronger. He can be less dependent on his left hand. He has to be more assertive. But who are these things not true about when most lottery prospects are teens? The latter about his assertiveness, maybe that wouldn’t have been questioned if Simmons actually had plays called for him in crunch time and got the experience? LSU didn’t always take advantage of him. In a 77-75 loss to Oklahoma, Simmons didn’t get a shot up in the last five minutes.

“You can criticize every player’s game at this point because they’re all young,” one league scout said. “But he can make other people better. His vision, his passing, that’s what separates him. It’s not just about what Ben Simmons can do for Ben Simmons.”

Simmons will be 20 by the time his rookie season begins. Regardless of who is the top pick, almost everyone agrees there’s not a player who is going to take any franchise from the outhouse to the penthouse single-handedly. It's going to take a few years for that potential to be realized. 

Falling into Simmons as a backup to Markieff Morris, who is under contract with the Wizards through 2019, still would be a game-changer. The Wizards like him as the top pick in that hypothetical, far-fetched scenario in which their name is called at the NBA lottery next week. And despite all the recent misdirection about Simmons, so do most of the other 29 NBA teams. 

And the pick would be so valuable even in this unspectacular draft field, it would give the Wizards a lot of other options such as trading down, swapping it for current proven players and future assets and getting them a jump on restructuring for the 2016-17 season and beyond.

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Mystics star Kristi Toliver excited to officially join Wizards coaching staff

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Mystics star Kristi Toliver excited to officially join Wizards coaching staff

After months of serving a variety of roles for the organization, Kristi Toliver now has an official title with the Washington Wizards. The Mystics star has joined Scott Brooks' staff as an assistant coach and assistant for player development.

Toliver, 31, will remain a member of the Mystics, who play their season during the summer. The lack of overlap will allow her to focus much of her time on the Wizards and what she hopes becomes a long and successful coaching career.

She chose joining the Wizards over continuing to play professionally this year overseas, an option many WNBA players use in the offseason. But she has a coaching dream and happens to have caught on with the hometown team.

"This is the opportunity of a lifetime. When it came about, I wanted to be involved in any capacity that I could," Toliver said.

Toliver is the first active WNBA player to serve on an NBA bench and just the second woman after Becky Hammon, who is an assistant for the San Antonio Spurs. Toliver plans to reach out to Hammon after getting her phone number from Seattle Storm guard Sue Bird.

Toliver is honored to be in the same category with Hammon, whom she looked up to first as a player and now as a coach who has become a trailblazer in the profession.

"I know she's going to be somebody that I can ask questions to," Toliver said. "I will pick her brain about how she played and I will pick her brain about how she is coaching."

Hammon joined the Spurs' coaching staff in 2014 after years of helping the team out in other ways. Now that there are two female NBA assistants, the logical question is when one will become a head coach.

Wizards All-Star Bradley Beal can already attest to Toliver's impact and said there could be a female head coach "very soon."

"I wouldn't be surprised if it happened sooner rather than later," Beal said. "If you know the game, you know the game. Plain and simple."

Toliver has served as a coach in the Wizards' 5-on-5 scrimmages at practice. She has also been particularly helpful with ball-handling, which makes sense given she's the starting point guard for the Mystics. Toliver has helped a variety of Wizards players in dribbling drills including the big men like Jeff Green and Dwight Howard.

Coaching has required an adjustment for Toliver, who is used to having the ball in her hands running the offense. But just as being a player can help her as a coach, she expects to become a better player now seeing the game from a new perspective.

"I'd much rather be playing, I know that. But it's good to think the game in a different way and from a different point of view," she said.

Brooks has been effusive in his praise of Toliver ever since she began helping out in the Las Vegas Summer League in July. He invited her to join the staff over the phone shortly before the Summer League began and will admit he did not know at the time the relationship would get this far.

But over the summer, Brooks lost two assistants to other teams in Chad Iske and Sidney Lowe, paving the way for some movement on his staff. He promoted several positions from within and an opening was created for Toliver to come on board.

"She's a special talent. She's going to be moving through the ranks pretty quick," Brooks said.


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Mystics' Kristi Toliver joins Wizards coaching staff for 2018-19 season


Mystics' Kristi Toliver joins Wizards coaching staff for 2018-19 season

It's certainly not uncommon for professional athletes to make the transition into coaching following their playing days. We have seen more and more of this in recent years throughout sports, especially with younger coaches getting the chance to lead teams. 

What is uncommon is when a professional athlete begins their quest for life after playing while they're still playing. 

Washington Mystics veteran guard Kristi Toliver is joining the Wizards' coaching staff, the team announced Tuesday. 

The news comes after the 10-year WNBA pro got her feet wet on the Wizards' bench during Vegas Summer League play in July. 

Along with Elena Delle Donne, Toliver helped lead the Mystics to the 2018 WNBA Finals, before ultimately falling to the Seattle Storm. 

The 31-year-old was drafted third overall by Chicago in 2009 after leading her Maryland Terrapins to a national championship in 2006. 

Toliver will serve as an assistant coach and focus on player development for head coach Scott Brooks. 

Coach Brooks also welcomes Robert Pack and Ryan Richman to the front of the bench. Pack served as assistant coach under Brooks for two seasons during their Oklahoma City Thunder days while Richman led the team during summer leage play and is entering his fifth year in Washington. 

The Wizards open their 2018-19 regular season Thursday against the Miami Heat inside Capital One Arena. Tip-off is slated for 8 p.m. on NBC Sports Washington.