Lottery simulation: What if Wizards get the 12th 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 things could go for Washington. They have the 10th-best odds, which gives them a 13.9% chance of picking top-4 and 86.1% odds of selecting 10th, 11th or 12. 

We are going through each scenario one-by-one and today we finish with them landing the 12th overall pick...

Lottery simulation results

The Wizards picking 12th overall is both the least desirable lottery outcome for them and the least likely. They only have a 1.2% chance of getting the 12th pick, which is less than half of the likelihood they pick first (3%). Because of that, it took 112 tries on Tankathon to get them into 12th.

In this scenario, the Wizards would be picking behind the Blazers (9th), Pelicans (10th) and Spurs (11th). The Thunder moved up 11 spots to get the first pick by way of the Paul George trade. The Kings also moved up five spots to pick second, while the Knicks jumped seven spots into fourth.

The point of this exercise is to create a hypothetical board for the Wizards and evaluate their options. In this case, they would have to wait for 11 picks to be made before they are on the clock. It wouldn't be the most ideal situation, but they would still be in position to find talent.


Lottery simulation mock draft

1. Thunder (from LAC): Jabari Smith Jr. (Auburn)

This would represent a nightmare for the Clippers, who would have traded away a No. 1 overall pick and put the Thunder in position to take Smith Jr., the current favorite to go first.

2. Kings: Chet Holmgren (Gonzaga)

The Kings could go in a few different directions here, but in Holmgren they would find an ideal complement to Domantas Sabonis due to his shot-blocking and ability to make an impact off-the-ball as an outside shooter.

3. Pacers: Paolo Banchero (Duke)

The Pacers pass up the chance at Ivey, an Indiana guy, to go for Banchero and bank on his potential to be one of the best scoring power forwards in the league.

4. Knicks: Jaden Ivey (Purdue)

The Knicks get a jolt of athleticism and offense with Ivey, who has the electric playing style that could make him a star in New York and the type of game that would fit well alongside R.J. Barrett and Julius Randle.

5. Rockets: Keegan Murray (Iowa)

Murray seems to be the highest-rated prospect out of the top-4 and in this case he would go to Houston to play as a stretch-4 alongside the explosive Jalen Green and the crafty Alperen Sengun. 

6. Magic: Shaedon Sharpe (Kentucky)

Orlando wouldn't be happy picking here after going into the lottery with the second-best odds, but they would come away with a super talent in Sharpe, who would form an interesting duo with Jalen Suggs.

7. Pistons: A.J. Griffin (Duke)

Detroit gets an ideal wing to develop alongside Cade Cunningham, as Griffin has two-way potential and is one of the best 3-point shooters in the draft.

8. Thunder: Jalen Duren (Memphis)

Most of OKC's best young players are on the perimeter, so in Duren they opt for an athletic big man to run pick-and-rolls with Josh Giddey and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander.

9. Blazers: Bennedict Mathurin (Arizona)

The Blazers go for Mathurin, whose athleticism, ability to attack in transition and outside shooting should help him thrive alongside a backcourt of Damian Lillard and Anfernee Simons.

10. Pelicans: Johnny Davis (Wisconsin)

New Orleans has displayed a bright future in their postseason run and in Davis would get an ideal glue guy who could learn behind C.J. McCollum at the two.

11: Spurs: TyTy Washington (Kentucky)

The Spurs have a guard and wing-heavy roster, but in this case they take the best player available in Washington to develop him behind All-Star Dejounte Murray.

12: Wizards: Tari Eason (LSU)

If this is how the board shakes out, there may be some disappointment in the Wizards' draft room over the fact they just missed out on players like Mathurin and Washington, each of whom would be good fits for them. But they would regroup, trust their board and take the next best player. In this case, the decision would probably come down to a group that includes Tari Eason, Dyson Daniels, Ochai Agbaji, Jeremy Sochan and Ousmane Dieng.


Daniels is intriguing because he's a guard and the Wizards have a need there, but the draft is about best player available and they also need to improve their defense. In Eason they would get a rangy wing defender who can also score and shoot from the outside. Eason is 6-foot-8, strong and aggressive. He's a disruptor who averaged 1.9 steals and 1.1 blocks last season for LSU. 

Drafting Eason could put the Wizards on a similar track to the Timberwolves, who improved their defense from 28th to 13th last season in part because of the emergence of young wing defenders. Eason has the potential to be perfect for switch defense and to make teams pay for their mistakes in transition. While his shot creation may take time to develop, the Wizards need more two-way players and Eason could develop into a good one.

13: Hornets: Dyson Daniels (G-League Ignite)

Charlotte already has a lot going for them at guard, but in Daniels could get another playmaker to grow alongside LaMelo Ball and take their emerging offense to a new level.

14: Cavaliers: Ochai Agbaji (Kansas)

Cleveland showed this season they are closer to contending than many thought they were and in Agbaji they would get a solid and smart two-guard who could contribute right away.

What would it mean for the Wizards?

Getting the 12th pick would not be a preferable outcome for the Wizards, who have the 10th-best odds and slim-but-possible hopes of moving up into the top-4. The 12th pick would mean they moved back two spots and it would effectively lower the initial expectations for the draft pick. If they get a top-4 pick or even select 10th, that player has a chance to be an instant contributor. If they pick 12th, it could mean taking the long view on someone who needs more time to develop.

That said, recent drafts and NBA history indicate there is going to be talent available at 12. This year's playoffs have been loaded with examples from Desmond Bane to Tyler Herro to Jordan Poole to Tyrese Maxey. In all likelihood, a future star will still be on the board and maybe even a future Hall of Famer. It's up to the Wizards to find the right player for them and develop them in the best way to reach their potential. 

Eason, 21, could be the type of player who exceeds his draft spot. His improvement from his freshman to sophomore year was significant and shows the type of trajectory teams want to see. He went from shooting 46.2% from the field, 24.1% from three and 57.4% from the free throw line to 52.1%/35.9%/80.3%. 


If they don't go with Eason in this scenario, Daniels would make sense as a long-term project at guard. Or, they could see Sochan as similar to Eason but better. Or, Agbaji could be the pick if they want a plug-and-play contributor like they got in Corey Kispert last summer. They would have some decent options, even if 12th is not where they want to be.