With the Wizards now officially eliminated from the postseason, the May 17 draft lottery has taken on a new level of importance. For the third time in four years, the Wizards will wish for the best as a lucky ping-pong ball could significantly alter the course of the franchise.
After Thursday's games, the Wizards are tied with the Pelicans for 10th in lottery odds. That would give them a 2.5% chance of landing the No. 1 overall pick and 11.6% odds at picking in the top-4.
Only six games remain on the Wizards' schedule, but there is a range of possibilities for where they could end up. They are only two games away from the Spurs who are in eighth. If they moved up to eighth, their odds of picking first would improve to 6% while their chances of the top-4 would increase to 26.2%. The Wizards could also finish as low as 12th, which would yield only a 1.5% chance at getting the No 1 pick.
There should be value on the board regardless of where the Wizards select, but jumping up into the top-4 would give them a chance at landing a player in the widely recognized top tier. The four best prospects at this stage appear to be Jabari Smith (Auburn), Chet Holmgren (Gonzaga), Paolo Banchero (Duke) and Jaden Ivey (Purdue). Smith, Holmgren and Banchero would add to the Wizards' frontcourt, while Ivey is a combo guard.
The Wizards' most glaring need is at point guard, though the draft is generally more about taking the best player available. If Washington does go the point guard route, they could look at TyTy Washington (Kentucky) or Blake Wesley (Notre Dame), especially if they don't move up from the backend of the lottery.
Related: 2022 NBA Mock Draft 5.0: Jabari Smith rises to No. 1
The Wizards have experienced some tough luck on lottery night in recent years. In 2020, they had the ninth-best odds and stayed at nine where they selected Deni Avdija. In 2019, they had the sixth-best odds and moved back to ninth where they took Rui Hachimura.
So much can hinge on what happens on lottery night this time around. Moving up into the top-4 would significantly improve the team's outlook moving forward. They made the playoffs last season, only to take a step back this year.
The one positive is they should get a good draft pick and potentially a really good one. The next step is finding out their lottery odds, which will be determined on April 10 once the season comes to a close. After the lottery, the draft itself will be on June 23.