For the fourth time in their history, the Washington Wizards have the ninth overall pick. Will they be able to make this one count in the 2019 NBA Draft?
Draft-day success has eluded the Washington Wizards in recent years. Part of this is because the team has not had picks to make.
Since the 2013 NBA Draft, just two of the Wizards’ eight total selections have played with the team: Otto Porter Jr. (third overall in 2013) and Troy Brown Jr. (15th overall in 2018). In both 2016 and 2017, the Wizards made no selections.
At the trade deadline this season, the Wiz gave up both Porter and Oubre, leaving Brown to join the solid group of Bradley Beal (third overall in 2012), John Wall (first overall in 2010) and Tomas Satoransky (32nd overall in 2012) as the four remaining players to be drafted by the team.
Despite having the sixth-highest odds to get the first overall pick in this year’s draft at 9.0 percent, Washington ended up with the ninth overall pick.
The six teams with the highest odds to grab the first overall pick all ended up with a lower pick than projected, while the New Orleans Pelicans, Memphis Grizzlies and Los Angeles Lakers all got much higher picks than anticipated.
The ninth selection has not treated the Wizards kindly in the past. Their three No. 9 overall picks combined for just six seasons with the Bullets.
The last time the Wizards had the ninth overall pick was back in 1989, when they drafted Tom Hammonds, a power forward from Georgia Tech. Hammonds played three seasons for the then-Bullets before being traded, though he did average 11.9 points per game in his final season in the nation’s capital.
Their other two picks came in 1970 and 1971. In 1970, they selected George Johnson out of Stephen F. Austin and then released him after one subpar season. The second pick was equally disappointing, but did have a silver lining.
In 1971, they picked Stan Love from the University of Oregon, but after just two seasons averaging 7.9 points and 6.4 points per game, they traded him.
In return, they received a second round pick that became Truck Robinson. Robinson went on to become a two-time All-Star with the New Orleans Jazz and the Phoenix Suns after leaving the Bullets’ organization.
However, the team did get a first-rounder that became longtime Bullet forward Greg Ballard, along with guard Tom Henderson. Both contributed to the organization’s lone NBA championship season in 1977-78.
While the Wizards may not have seen success with the No. 9 pick, they are not alone. Only four No. 9 picks are in the Hall of Fame, though Dirk Nowitzki will soon make it five. Clyde Lovellette, Mel Daniels, Jo Jo White and Tracy McGrady are the current four.
Between White, drafted in 1969, and McGrady, taken in 1997, the ninth pick went 28 years between Hall-of-Famers.
Recent history has treated teams with the ninth overall pick much more kindly. All-Stars DeMar DeRozan, Gordon Hayward, Kemba Walker and Andre Drummond were selected in that spot in consecutive years starting in 2009.
Since 2013, the picks have not yet met their full potential.
Strangely enough, four of the last six No. 9 picks played on the New York Knicks at some point last season (Trey Burke, Noah Vonleh, Dennis Smith Jr. and Kevin Knox), while the other two (Frank Kaminsky and Jakob Poeltl) have underperformed so far in their careers.
In recent history, it’s been hard to miss on the few good picks the Wizards have made. Wall at No. 1 in 2010 was a clear choice and Beal and Porter were the best available talents at No. 3 in both 2012 and 2013.
Beyond that, former general manager Ernie Grunfeld found no luck with his other picks.
In 2007 and 2008, the Wizards selected perennial Shaqtin’ A Fool favorites Nick Young and JaVale McGee, who have both shown they can stay in the league, with their first round picks. However, their Wizards careers were not something they will to be remembered for.
Other than Satoransky, who was stashed away for a few years overseas, none of the Wizards’ second-rounders have been memorable in recent history.
Their next most notable second round pick was forward Nemanja Bjelica, who they drafted in 2010 and then quickly traded for Trevor Booker on draft night. Booker played solid backup minutes for four years with the team.
The Wizards traded 2014 second-rounder Jordan Clarkson, who is averaging 14.9 points per game in his career, to the Lakers for cash. Last year the Wizards drafted Issuf Sanon, who played in Slovenia this year and is just 19 years old.
According to NBC Sports Washington, 2015 pick Aaron White out of the University of Iowa, who averaged 8.4 points and 4.1 rebounds per game with 40.3 percent 3-point shooting for Zalgiris in Lithuania this past season, could be coming back to the U.S. this offseason to join the team that drafted him.
Looking deep into the team’s draft history, Washington’s most notable draft picks of all-time include Wes Unseld (No. 2 in 1968), Muggsy Bogues (No. 12 in 1987), Juwan Howard (No. 5 in 1994), Rasheed Wallace (No. 4 in 1995) and Richard Hamilton (No. 7 in 1999).
Despite some of these great picks, the Wizards are also known for their major gaffe in 2001.
In 2001, the Wizards drafted high school center Kwame Brown with the first overall selection. After four mediocre years in DC and years bouncing around the league, Brown ended his career averaging 6.6 points and 5.5 rebounds per game.
Though the Wizards do not have the greatest history with No. 9 picks, interim GM Tommy Sheppard will look to make this draft an unforgettable one and grab a player who will make a lasting impact in Washington.