NBA Draft Lottery Simulator: Banchero is Wizards best option at No. 3 pick


The Wizards are back in the NBA draft lottery, set for May 17, which means we at NBC Sports Washington are rediscovering the fun of Tankathon. It's a great website that has many features, but one in particular that is especially addicting. You can simulate the lottery, all with the click of a button.

It's so much fun we thought we would turn it into a series on the Wizards and run through all of their draft lottery scenarios. There are essentially seven different ways the ping pong balls could fall for Washington. They have the 10th-best odds, which gives them a 13.9% chance of picking in the top four and 86.1% odds of selecting 10th, 11th or 12. 

We will go through each scenario one by one and today we'll move on to the scenario where the Wizards land the No. 3 overall pick...

Lottery simulation results

It took us just 14 tries on Tankathon's lottery simulation to get the Wizards the No. 3 overall pick (in fact, this time the Wizards got second and, later, first before they jumped to three). They only have a 3.3% chance of picking first overall, so it would require some serious luck. In this scenario, the Wizards pick third with the Pacers picking first, the Pistons second, followed by the Rockets and Magic rounding out the top five. The Wizards moved up seven spots to get No. 3, while the Rockets dropped three spots from the best lottery position to the fourth overall pick. 


The point of this exercise is to create a hypothetical board for the Wizards and evaluate their options. In this case where they pick third overall, they would have to choose between the best available on the board or take the first guard off the board and see if he can run the point.

Lottery simulation mock draft

1. Pacers - Jabari Smith Jr. (Auburn)

Any one of the three in Jabari Smith Jr, Chet Holmgren or Paolo Banchero could be taken first overall based on each team's evaluation process. Of the three, Smith brings the right balance of upside to become a future star and current skill/ ability to be the safest bet. Indiana would utilize the two-way wing right away and he could contribute to a team that has a lot of good pieces. 

2. Pistons - Chet Holmgren (Gonzaga)

The Pistons are trying to create a bruiser-esque identity as an ode back to the 'Bad Boy Pistons.' Holmgren doesn't exactly fit that mold at a lanky 7-feet, 195 pounds but his tantalizing potential as a unicorn cannot be passed up for a team that is embracing the rebuild. 

3. Wizards - Paolo Banchero (Duke)

While a good case could be made for Jaden Ivey over Banchero, this exercise assumes that Bradley Beal will be retained in the long term hence the pick of Banchero. Ivey is an electric playmaker but he wouldn't solve their point guard needs and would likely not have a shot at the starting rotation except in a small-ball situation. Besides, if you trust general manager Tommy Sheppard saying they will select the best player available, as of now it's the Duke product.

Banchero brings a versatile stretch-four to D.C. That has been a point of emphasis the past few offseasons for the team and now they get a young All-Star caliber player that can grow into the role. He's NBA-ready with his size and strength, which is key for a team that is trying to maximize the peak years of Beal's career. 

He's a three-level scorer that has explosive moves to get to the basket. Don't underestimate his grit either for a high-level prospect, he's not afraid to get dirty diving for loose balls or get physical in the post.

With Duke, he led the Blue Devils with 17.2 ppg, shooting 47.8% from the field and 33.8% from three. Duke also lacked a true point guard last year and relied on a tandem of combo guards, leaving Banchero to also have a playmaking role at the wing. 

4. Rockets - Jaden Ivey (Purdue)

Of all the top-four prospects, Ivey is the one least likely to be an ideal positional fit with the Rockets. They essentially drafted a similar version of him last season with Jalen Green. Nevertheless, you draft the best available and make it work. Perhaps Ivey will run the point in the NBA after all. 

5. Magic - Keegan Murray (Iowa)


Orlando is about to have a who's who starting lineup of college stars: Cole Anthony, Jalen Suggs, Franz Wagner, Murray and Wendell Carter Jr. 

6. Thunder - AJ Griffin (Duke)

Griffin was nothing short of a stud 3-point shooter while at Duke at 44.7%. As OKC continues to accumulate assets, he could be a great addition to a rebuilding team or a valuable trade piece for a star.

7. Trail Blazers - Shaedon Sharpe (Kentucky*)

There are a lot of unknowns about Sharpe. His most impressive experience is at Nike's Elite Youth Basketball League. Portland just needs good players at this point.

8. Kings - Bennedict Mathurin (Arizona)

Sacramento has not been devoid of talent through the years. There is a need from the wing position for the Kings and Mathurin could come right in and contribute.

9. Pelicans - Jalen Duren (Memphis)

Not many teams will be wanting to take Duren because of fit, rather because of his skill. Pelicans take a traditional big that has the tools to develop into a rim-runner. 

Related: Keegan Murray cracks top-five in NBA Mock Draft

10. Spurs - Johnny Davis (Wisconsin)

San Antonio has a ton of talented guards, but the Spurs need someone who can take over and score who isn't Dejounte Murray. Davis can jump right into a fluid situation and have an impact as a two-way player.

11: Knicks - Dyson Daniels (G League Ignite)

Is the point guard position in New York settled? Daniels may not be a true floor general, but his length and playmaking ability are enticing. 

12: Thunder - Tari Eason (LSU)

Oklahoma City has a ton of talented guards and through the years drafted some interesting post players into their system. After the jump Eason made his sophomore year, he's showing an exciting trajectory that could be in the mix for a starter's spot.

13: Hornets - TyTy Washington (Kentucky)

There's not much guard depth behind LaMelo Ball and Terry Rozier in Charlotte. Washington projects as a combo guard who could see valuable minutes next season.

14: Cavaliers - Ochai Agbaji (Kansas)

Cleveland has nicely put pieces in all the right places to become a playoff contender once again. As the Cavaliers have to soon make contract decisions with much of their backcourt and wing position, Agbaji can jump in right away and be an impactful playmaker.

What would it mean for the Wizards?

When drafting high in the lottery, you always draft for talent, not need. If selecting third, the best on the board would be whoever is remaining among the trio of Chet Holmgren, Jabari Smith Jr. and Banchero.

Drafting the Duke power forward would load up the post depth for Washington, but what he brings to the basketball court will actually provide an upgrade to the four position.

What he'll be asked to do will likely move Kyle Kuzma to the three, opening the door for a more balanced rotation. With the added injury history of post players like Kristaps Porzingis and Rui Hachimura, no longer would the team have to play small. Banchero could move from the three to the five spot as a three-level scorer.


Like if the Wizards selected Holmgren, bringing in Banchero would likely open the door for someone to get moved between Hachimura and Daniel Gafford. It would also cement a situation where Thomas Bryant does not return in free agency.

There's less risk with Banchero as opposed to many of the other top lottery selections. Right away he should be able to jump into a rotation and put together starter's-level production.

Banchero wouldn't fix the Wizards' hole at point guard right away. Nor would he address some of the defensive lapses which hinder the team's ability to compete for 48 minutes. However, neither were going to be solved with a draft pick this year anyway.