Despite their fair share of bad luck over the years, the Washington Wizards have generally found good fortune at the NBA Draft lottery. But that was far from the case on Tuesday night in Chicago, as they fell from sixth to ninth and basically landed their worst-case scenario.
Though they technically could have picked as low as 10th, their odds of doing so were less than one percent. Ninth was the worst realistic option. They had only a 3.8 percent chance of landing there, yet sure enough that is where they fell.
Now that they will have no chance at the top prospects like Zion Williamson or Ja Morant, the Wizards' best bet is to trade back and acquire more picks. They only have one pick in this year's draft and do not own one in the second round until 2023.
They need more draft assets for a variety of reasons. For one, they are in a difficult salary cap situation where they lack cheap, high-upside players. The best way to find those is in the draft.
Also, they are set to hire a new team president, one that will likely want to put his fingerprints on the roster. It will be hard to do so without more picks to work with.
And this year's draft is considered very top heavy. Beyond Williamson, Morant and R.J. Barrett, there is not a ton of depth. There may not be much separating the ninth-best prospect from, say, the 13th.
Also, recent history has shown that teams do not have to move back far to stock up. Last year, the Hawks went from third to fifth and picked up a first round pick from the Mavericks.
The Sixers went from 10th to 16th and got an unprotected 2021 first round pick from the Heat by way of the Suns. Also last year, the Hornets went back just one spot from 11th to 12th and got two second round picks.
The Kings have made a living off the practice. In 2017, they went back from 10th and got both the 15th and 20th picks from the Blazers. In 2016, Sacramento traded back from eighth and got two first round picks - 13th and 28th - as well as a 2020 second round pick and the draft rights to Bogdan Bogdanovic, who was a 2014 first round pick and has turned into a solid pro.
There are plenty of teams that could package a pick this year and a future asset to move up, but also a few that have multiple 2019 first round picks that could strike a deal with Washington. The Boston Celtics have the 14th, 20th and 22nd picks. The Brooklyn Nets own the 17th and the 27th picks this year.
Trading back isn't something the Wizards have usually done. Former team president Ernie Grunfeld didn't once trade back in the first round in his 16 years with the team. He traded first round picks away for veterans and once traded up to get Kelly Oubre Jr. in 2015, but he never traded back in the first for more picks.
Those types of deals also don't usually happen until draft night. The Wizards will likely want to see how the board shakes out on June 20 before making a deal. Maybe someone like De'Andre Hunter of Virginia or Cam Reddish of Duke unexpectedly drops and they can't pass up the opportunity to take them.
But all it takes is one team to fall in love with a player that is out of their reach. If the Wizards find one of those teams, they should see what they can get in return.
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