As the NBA playoffs get underway, Wizards fans find themselves in an all too familiar situation: waiting for the lottery. Being a Wizards fan, I’ve grown to despise the lottery. I hate the lottery so much that I no longer play Ping Pong or Powerball and it’s all the Wizards fault.
Now, there is a huge segment of Wiz fans who blame Ernie Grunfeld for everything, even global warming, but while I’m not a huge fan of Grunfeld, the Wizards lottery woes predate Grunfeld’s existence in DC. They predate just about everything but dinosaurs.
So, here it is, a homage to Wizards lottery picks. I will warn you, this is going to be painful.
1992 – Tom Gugliotta, 6th Overall
I will start by admitting my bias here. As a kid, I hated Tom Gugliotta. I personally wanted the Bullets to take UMD star Walt “The Wizard” Williams, who was selected right after Googs, by the Sacramento Kings. Most Wizards fans have fond memories of Googs because in his two seasons in Washington, he made the All-Rookie First Team, averaging 14.7 ppg and 9.6 rpg. He followed that up with a 17.1 ppg and 9.3 rpg season. The next year he was traded along with THREE 1st round picks for Chris Webber. Googs went on to make an All-Star game as a member of the Minnesota Timberwolves.
1993 – Calbert Cheaney, 6th Overall
Calbert Cheaney may be the biggest bust in Wizards/Bullets draft history, which is saying something. Cheaney came to the Bullets from Indiana. He was a 3-time All-American and a pupil of the legendary Bob Knight, coming off one of the greatest collegiate seasons ever. He averaged 22.4 ppg, won all Player of the Year awards, and was a unanimous All-American selection. Let’s not forget that he finished his career as all-time leading scorer for Indiana and the Big Ten. He was as “Can’t Miss” as it gets. However, Cheaney never averaged over 16.6 ppg in a season during his 6 year tenure with the Bullets/Wizards and his overall scoring average for those six years was a whopping 11.1 ppg.
1994 – Juwan Howard, 5th Overall
During his Wizards/Bullets career he actually put up numbers worthy of a lottery pick. Wizards fans were excited to have him paired with fellow Fab Fiver, Chris Webber. It wasn’t all bad, Howard made the All-Rookie 2nd team, the All-NBA 3rd team the next year, and the playoffs the year after. This sounds exactly like what you want out of your lottery picks, but then came the contract. Calling Juwan Howard a bust is not entirely accurate. It wasn’t his fault that the Wizards decided to give an 18 and 8 player the first $100 million contract in NBA history. The contract is what ruined Howard. While his numbers hovered around that 18 and 8 threshold for most of his Wizards/Bullets career, it did not justify his mammoth contract.
1995 – Rasheed Wallace, 4th Overall
Sheed’s stint with the Bullets was short lived. He filled in admirably his rookie year for an injured Chris Webber. But when Webber returned, there were not enough minutes for him, Wallace and Howard to share and as a result, Wallace was shipped to Portland for Rod Strickland, one of the rare Wizards trades that worked out for both teams. Strickland led the Wiz to the playoffs and led the league in assists the next year. I still salivate over the possibility of a Webber, Howard and Wallace frontline but that’s the Wizards for ya.
1996 – Golden State had the Bullets 11th overall pick and selected a guy by the name of Todd Foster before some kid name Kobe Bryant was selected two picks later.
1997 – The newly branded ‘Wizards’ forfeited their pick so they could give Juwan Howard that $100 million deal. I know what you’re saying, that makes no sense but David Stern decreed it so there.
1998 – Golden State had the Wizards pick again this year and took Vince Carter with 5th overall pick.
Keep in mind that Chris Webber — who was the reason why the Wizards gave up their lottery pick in Gugliotta, along THREE MORE future 1st rounders — was just traded to the Sacramento Kings for Mitch Richmond. When Richmond arrived in DC, he never played in less than 70 games or averaged less the 20 ppg a season. If you’re keeping count, that’s two picks Golden State still has, with one more in their back pocket.
1999 – Richard Hamilton – 7th Overall
Coming off of a memorable NCAA Tournament where he won Most Oustanding Player and the National Championship, the Wizards selected Richard ‘Rip’ Hamilton. Rip had an underwhelming rookie year, averaging just 9 ppg. But he broke out in a big way during his sophmore campaign, boosting his scoring average to 18. He was a solid player with a great shot that you could build around for years to come……anddd Michael Jordan then traded him for 28 year old Jerry Stackhouse. How’d that work out, you ask? Three years later Rip was the leading scorer on the NBA Champion Detroit Pistons.
Is anybody else in the mood for a drink? And we haven’t even reached the 2000’s yet……
2000 – Golden State FINALLY uses their last pick from the Chris Webber trade and trades it to Chicago who selected Chris Mihm with the 7th overall pick. I never really understood why GM’s are so eager to trade future draft picks away. Even when they attach various forms of lottery protections, it just rarely works in their favor.
2001 – Kwame Brown, 1st Overall
Kwame is widely agreed upon as the biggest draft bust not named Sam Bowie and it’s REALLY hard to argue against that. Sam Bowie isn’t the worst because he’s the worst basketball player ever, but because he was picked over Michael Jordan. While Kwame was a supreme disappointment, was Pau Gasol, Jason Richardson, or Shane Battier worthy to be picked 1st overall? Probably not. But what Michael Jordan saw in the big man with little hands, we will never know, and I’m not sure if Jordan himself even knows. Then again,this is the same guy who drafted Adam Morrison 3rd overall. What really stings about this pick is that the next two #1 picks were Yao Ming and Lebron James. If it wasn’t for bad luck, the Wizards wouldn’t have any.
2002- Jared Jefferies, 11th Overall
Another University of Indiana scrub that never lived up to his college hype. Kinda like, the 2000s version of Calbert Cheaney, a player who did nothing great and very few things well. He was as average as you can be, yet managed to stick around the NBA. I liken his game to a sandwich that consists of two pieces of bread and a slice of bologna. I’m trying to find something interesting to say about Jeffries but bologna isn’t that interesting.
2003 – Jarvis Hayes, 10th Overall
While researching for this article, I was floored to find out that Jarvis Hayes played 7 seasons in the NBA. It just felt like he stopped playing when he left the Wizards. He was the victim of a nasty knee injury and never seemed to recover from it. On basketball-reference.com his career Similarity Score is closest to Ryan Bowen, which is all I need to share this photo.
2004 – Devin Harris, 5th Overall
Devin was selected by the Wizards and sent to the Dallas Mavericks for ‘The Captain’ Antwan Jamison. This trade worked out well for both teams; Harris started on some really good Maverick teams and Jamison became the leader of the Big Three.
From 2005 through 2009, the Wizards avoided picking in the lottery. The Big Three were in town and 1st round playoff exits were the soup du jour. Ernie Grunfeld was now the man in charge and I guess he figured since the Wizards did so poorly in the lottery, let’s see how they would do just outside of the lottery. These next few picks were not lottery picks, but they serve to drive home my point.
2005 – No first round pick this year, as it was traded in 2001 to Denver via Orlando for Brendan Haywood and ended up being the 20th pick, Julius Hodge. BUT, we DID draft Andray Blatche in the 2nd round…SCORE!!
2006 – Oleksiy Pecherov, 18th Overall
Pecherov, who bears a striking resemblance to Stewie Griffin from Family Guy, was Jan Vesely before Jan Vesely. All you need to know about Pecherov is that after being traded to Minnesota, he averaged a career high 4.5 ppg.
I don’t need to say much about the next two guys. Every Wizards fan knows how frustrating their tenure in DC was.
2007 – Nick Young, 16th Overall
Swaggy P is now disappointing 76er fans. I bet he wished he signed a multi-year deal now.
2008 – Javale McGee , 18th Overall
JaVale ‘Pierre’ Mcgee is now a role player making $10 million a year and averaging 18 minutes per game. No Thanks.
2009 – Ricky Rubio, 5th Overall
Oh wait, I forgot he was traded for Mike Miller and Randy Foye.
How about that drink?
2010 – John Wall, 1st Overall
What a difference a few months make. If I was writing this in January, it would have continued the doom and gloom that has permeated this article. But whew, John Wall had a second half of a season that renewed my basketball hope. The word ‘bust’ was being thrown around and there was an APB out for his jump shot. But no worries, he found it. He was looking like the penultimate example of the Wizards drafting woes until February rolled around and John Wall became the franchise player that lottery dreams are made of. With that said, Wall was the clear choice for #1 overall. There was no way to screw this one up, so congrats on that.
2011 – Jan Vesely, 6th overall
Jan Vesely, or as I like to call him “Can’t Get Right”, was thought to be a poor man’s Dirk Nowitzki but in actuality he has been more like a destitute man’s Jared Jeffries. No need to go through the list of players who were drafted after him as it will only frustrate you and make you pull out your hair. Let’s keep the focus on Jan. Most Wizards fans would say he’s the worst player on the team and it would be hard to disagree with them. Last season, he looked as if he never played basketball before he got to the NBA and somehow he regressed even more this season. He averaged 11.8 minutes, 2.5 points, and 2.1 fouls and let’s not forget he shot an abysmal 30% from the free throw line. I think we’ve seen about all we need to of Jan but as Charles Barkley says “I may be wrong but I doubt it.”
2012 – Bradley Beal, 3rd Overall
The jury is still out on Beal. But in this article, I’m the judge, jury, and executioner, and I have made up my mind: the kid is a star in the making and will be the best player from his draft class. There was a unanimous consensus on the top three players in last year’s draft, and with the first two gone, Ernie took the guy who was left. I will give credit where credit is due, but as I stated earlier with John Wall, you get no credit for the obvious pick.
In 21 years, the Bullets/Wizards have had 16 lottery picks that they either bungled or traded away. Juwan Howard made one All-Star game, while he and Webber led the team to the playoffs once — a first round sweep. Webber, Hamilton, Wallace, and Gugliotta all went on to become All-Stars with other teams. What’s really laughable is that the one sustained playoff run was courtesy of the Big Three, with the lottery picks playing no significant role.
After years of frustration and disappointment, I’m done with the lottery. Done with upside and done with potential. If the Wizards don’t get extremely lucky and land a top three pick, then trade the damn thing because the last thing this team needs is another Jan Vesely or Jared Jeffries or Calbert Cheaney, or….you get my point, right?