What if the Wizards didn’t win the pre-lottery coin flip tie-breaker against the Los Angeles Clippers after the 2008-09 season? Both teams finished with identical 19-63 records, and even though the Wizards got a single extra combination in the ’09 lottery after winning that coin flip (so, a 17.8 percent chance of getting the top pick instead of LA’s 17.7 percent), the Clippers won the prize, i.e., Blake Griffin. Not only that, but two other teams, Memphis and Oklahoma City, jumped into the top three, bumping Washington to five.
But what if the Wizards, who sent Flip Saunders as their lottery representative in 2009, had been part of the winning combination? They likely would have elected to not trade the fifth overall pick (for Mike Miller, Randy Foye and a money-save) and would have instead drafted (and kept) Griffin.
[To note: Saunders was Minnesota’s rep at the 1995 lottery and also returned to his team with the fifth overall pick, but that turned out to be Kevin Garnett—the Timberwolves finished tied with the Wizards for the second-worst NBA record that season, 21-61. Washington, holding the tie-breaker in odds to win No. 1 (18.3 percent to 18.2), landed the fourth pick and took Rasheed Wallace. Both teams were jumped by Golden State (Joe Smith, No. 1), and Philadelphia (Jerry Stackhouse, No. 3).]
Surely, with Blake Griffin missing his entire first season with the Clippers due to a broken kneecap sustained during the preseason, the Wizards, being themselves, likely would have been bad enough to land a high pick again, i.e., John Wall in 2010.
The what ifs… Wall, Lob City-ing, or whatever, to Griffin in the Verizon Center—the return of “Fun Street.” Speaking of…