Wednesday, May 19, 2010

The Great Wall of China-Town

Well, the Washington Bullets---err, I mean, Wizards---finally got lucky in the NBA draft lottery on Tuesday night.

They came in with a 10.3% chance of winning---and got the first pick.

Everybody knows about the "Curse o le’Bullez," coined famously by longtime Washington Post sports columnist Tony Kornheiser. This is a franchise that has spun its wheels for so long, and had so much negativity come into its walls that even when they got a bright young franchise player getting into his prime, he managed to tear his knee up, and bring weapons into the locker room.

The Bullets and Wizards had gone into their last 13 draft lottery’s moving down or staying in their slotted position 12 times. Does it get any unluckier than that? The one time they moved up? 2001. They got the number one pick in a year that featured no true number one selection and they drafted high school star Kwame Brown. Brown is still playing in the NBA, but he was not even close to being worthy of the number one selection. In their defense, most teams wanted Brown and would have taken him with the number one selection in the 2001 draft.

In 1992, the Bullets missed out on getting Shaquille O’Neal.

In 1993, the Bullets missed out on drafting Chris Webber (though they would get him via trade the next year, giving up three future number one picks in the process)

In short, the Bullets/Wizards missed out on a lot of guys. In 1995, they drafted Rasheed Wallace only to trade him the following year. Why? Well, that is another rant and tirade on Abe Pollin that I will not go in to. Pollin valued character and loyal yes men by his side at all times, and it cost this franchise dearly for nearly 25 years.

Pollin passed away last November.

Enter new majority owner/Capitals owner/businessman/entrepreneur/media favorite/fan favorite Ted Leonsis. Leonsis has been there and done that in terms of trying to get that one player to win a championship. You can bet the house he won’t make any outrageous signings this summer because he knows this team is in trouble. Their image is porous; their recent draft picks have not lived up to billing, and their local interest is in vast decline.

But not today. Turn on any DC sports radio station today and they are talking Wizards. Why?

With incredible luck, the Wizards just happen to have the number one overall pick in a draft where there is a clear number one.

John Wall out of Kentucky has been the consensus first pick since his junior year of high school in North Carolina. Wall is quick, skilled, and a pass-first point guard in the Derrick Rose/Rajon Rondo mold. I compare him more with Rondo because of his build, but he shoots much better than Rondo did at this stage of his career. Wall also stands out because he is a shutdown perimeter defender, which is something the Wizards have lacked for many, many years. Wall will almost certainly be the Wizards pick, and he will resuscitate a franchise that is in dire need of a young franchise-type point guard.

This pick may not work out, and the Wizards may still be the same old Wizards. But it was a great night for Leonsis, and the Wizards fan base to finally get some luck on NBA draft lottery night.

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