Lottery simulation: What if Wizards get the No. 1 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 will go through each scenario one-by-one, but today we begin with them landing the No. 1 overall pick...

Lottery simulation results

It took us 20 tries on Tankathon's lottery simulation to get the Wizards the No. 1 overall pick. They only have a 3% chance of picking first overall, so it would require some serious luck. In this scenario, the Wizards pick first with the Pistons, Pacers, Spurs and Rockets rounding out the top-5. The Wizards moved up nine spots into No. 1, while the Spurs jumped five spots to pick at four. The Rockets and Magic each fell four spots, while the Thunder moved back three.

The point of this exercise is to create a hypothetical board for the Wizards and evaluate their options. In this case, where they pick first overall, they can select any player they want in the draft. Needless to say, it would be an ideal situation.

Lottery simulation mock draft

1. Wizards: Jabari Smith Jr. (Auburn)

With two months to go until the actual draft, a consensus hasn't formed over who will be the first overall pick. But right now betting odds have Jabari Smith Jr. (Auburn) as the favorite and so do we in our mock draft at NBC Sports Washington. We'll go with Smith here and give the Wizards a high-ceiling forward who is uniquely well-rounded and polished for his age, at just 18 years old.

If the Wizards did pick first, they would likely choose between Smith Jr., Chet Holmgren (Gonzaga), Paolo Banchero (Duke) and Jaden Ivey (Purdue). Ivey would technically be the best fit, as he's a guard and could probably play the point alongside Bradley Beal. But you don't go for need if you have the No. 1 pick, it is strictly about the best player available. 

There is a lot to like about all four of the top prospects in this draft, but Smith Jr. is the most complete package among them. He's a deadly 3-point shooter at 6-foot-10, hitting 43.5% from downtown on 7.0 attempts per game last year at Auburn. He's also a good rebounder, a versatile and disruptive defender and a better passer than he's given credit for. His combination of size, mobility, skillset and feel for the game suggests stardom at the next level.

2. Pistons: Chet Holmgren (Gonzaga)

With Smith Jr. off the board, the Pistons go with Holmgren to bring an inside presence to their young core highlighted by 2021 No. 1 pick Cade Cunningham.

3. Pacers: Jaden Ivey (Purdue)

The Pacers already have Tyrese Haliburton in their backcourt, but in Ivey would take the best player left on the board and also get to stay home in Indiana where he grew up and played college ball.

4. Spurs: Paolo Banchero (Duke)

The Spurs have an intriguing group of young players, but Banchero would offer the highest upside as a scorer.

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 Shaedon Sharpe, who would form an interesting duo with Jalen Suggs.

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

Griffin has a chance to be a dynamic two-way player and in this case would land in the ideal spot to develop in OKC's system.

8. Blazers: Jalen Duren (Memphis)

Duren would give the Blazers an athletic big man to grow alongside guards Damian Lillard and Anfernee Simons.

9. Kings: Bennedict Mathurin (Arizona)

The Kings haven't made the playoffs since 2006, so they might as well take a big swing on a player like Mathurin, who has the tools to become a star two-way wing if developed correctly.

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: Knicks: TyTy Washington (Kentucky)

With Immanuel Quickley already in the mix, New York would go back to Kentucky for another guard and hope Washington could help improve their struggling offense over time.

12: Clippers: Dyson Daniels (G-League Ignite)

Daniels is a very big and skilled guard who could be worth the wait and the Clippers can afford to do so with the chance to contend next year when Kawhi Leonard returns.

13: Hornets: Tari Eason (LSU)

Eason would give the Hornets a high-upside wing defender who could be an ideal complement to LaMelo Ball and Charlotte's emerging high-powered offense.

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?

It would be the luckiest thing to happen to the Wizards in quite some time if they got the top pick. They have had some difficulty with the draft lottery in recent years, most notably in 2019 when they moved back from the sixth-best odds to select ninth.

Going all the way up to first would be the type of fortuitous turn of events that could dramatically change the trajectory of the franchise. The Wizards would all of a sudden have a chance to add a likely future star into the mix with Beal, Kyle Kuzma, Kristaps Porzingis and the rest of their roster.

Getting Smith Jr., who ironically is Kwame Brown's distant cousin, would give the Wizards a blue chip prospect to grow alongside Beal with the hope he matures into an All-Star sometime during the life of Beal's next contract. It would also give the Wizards their future starting four, which could change their thinking on Kuzma and Rui Hachimura, who are only under contract for one more season.

Smith Jr. would likely make an impact in Year 1, but drafting him would affect the Wizards' outlook for many years to come. Ideally, he would help turn the Wizards into a much better team while Beal is still in his prime and then take the reins as the face of the franchise once Beal's career winds down. With one stroke of luck, the Wizards could find themselves in a much better position in the long-term.

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