Can Wizards find a star with the 15th pick?


Because the Wizards made the playoffs, they will pick a bit later in the draft than they have been used to in recent years. Washington holds the 15th pick after selecting ninth the previous two drafts, which landed them Rui Hachimura and Deni Avdija.

The Wizards have picked 15th overall before, with mixed results. In 2018, they took Troy Brown Jr. and in 2015 they selected Kelly Oubre Jr. They passed on Kevin Huerter and Terry Rozier, while both Brown and Oubre were traded away. Huerter is currently playing in the conference finals as a key part of the Atlanta Hawks, while Rozier had a career year, averaging 20.4 points per game for Charlotte.

The Wizards haven't had the best luck at 15, but history shows it isn't a bad place to be. In fact, in 40 drafts from the NBA/ABA merger to 2016, 35 times a future All-Star was on the board. That means in a 40-year sample, 87.5% of drafts had at least one future All-Star available at the place the Wizards will be picking.

That doesn't guarantee anything, other than the Wizards will more than likely have an opportunity to find a star. It's up to them to make the right decision.

The last two NBA MVPs were taken with the 15th pick or later. Giannis Antetkounmpo, who won the award in 2018-19 and 2019-20 was the 15th pick in 2013, while this season's winner, Nikola Jokic, was a second-round pick in 2014.

In addition to Antetokounmpo, the 15th pick has also yielded other superstars like Steve Nash (1996) and Kawhi Leonard (2011). There have also been many solid players like Al Jefferson (2004), Robin Lopez (2008) and Dell Curry (1986).


Recent history might give a better snapshot of what the Wizards can accomplish at 15. Cole Anthony was 15th last year, Sekou Doumbouya the year before that.

Here are the last five:

2020 - Cole Anthony, Magic

2019 - Sekou Doumbouya, Pistons

2018 - Troy Brown Jr., Wizards

2017 - Justin Jackson, Kings

2016 - Juan Hernangomez, Nuggets

Basically, five players who have shown potential, but haven't yet realized it. Anthony would probably be the best of the group so far.

Given many draft prospects are 18 and 19 years old, the safest expectation is probably for whomever the Wizards select to take some time to develop. It's unlikely they find an instant contributor outside of the lottery. It's more likely they add a young, long-term project to develop.

But, as history shows, there is a very high likelihood a future star will be sitting there when they are on the clock. Maybe they can be the next team to strike gold.