Race to the Bottom

April 12, 2009 |

Last week the NBA world anticipated the announcement from Oklahoma’s star power forward on his decision to stay in school or to play professionally next season.  Griffin has been widely considered the consensus number one overall pick in the draft and without much surprise he announced that he will leave college early for the much greener world of the NBA.  In a relatively weak draft class NBA scouts have Griffin pegged as almost a “can’t miss” pro prospect and have compared him with some of the best power forwards of all time, such as Karl Malone, Charles Barkley, and Elvin Hayes.  Some of Griffin’s strengths include his great size, he is 6’10” tall and weighs 252 lbs., along with his superior athleticism, and calm professional demeanor have all of the NBA lottery bound teams drooling over the idea of drafting him this summer.

            With the Washington Wizards miserable season (19-61) coming to an end this week the hopes of landing the number one overall pick and Blake Griffin has become the silver lining in a disappointing, injury riddled season.  Currently the Wizards are tied with the Los Angeles Clippers for the second worst record in the NBA.  Both the Wizards and Clippers have two games left in the regular season and the difference between the second worst record in the NBA and the third worst record could go a long way in determining which team gets the number one overall pick.

            The worst record in the league has already been locked up by the Sacramento Kings and thus they will have the best chance of winning the NBA draft lottery.  Each season the NBA rewards the team with the worst record by giving them a 25% chance of winning the draft lottery.  The odds of winning the draft lottery decrease by winning records and there is a big difference in percentages of winning the draft between the second worst record in the league (19.9%) and the third worst (13.8).  Therefore the Wizards would really benefit by losing their final two games of the season and hoping that the Clippers win at least one of their remaining games this season. 

            The Wizards final two games of the season come against another lottery bound team, the Toronto Raptors and the reigning NBA champions, the Boston Celtics.  The Wizards will be playing a Toronto team that they just beat with a buzzer beater in Toronto this past weekend.  Hopefully the Raptors will be playing with more emotion after losing to this same Washington team nights before, possibly giving the Raptors that extra motivation they may need in an otherwise meaningless game of the season to beat the Wizards.  However losing to the Celtics may not be that challenging for the Wizards, especially since Kevin Garnett plans to play in one regular season game before the Celtics begin their quest to defend their championship. 

            The LA Clippers too will have one tough opponent in their final two games of the season.  LA must travel to Utah and take on the Jazz at home where the Jazz maintain one of the leagues best home records, making a win against the Jazz very optimistic.  However in the Clippers home finale and last game of the season the lottery bound Oklahoma City Thunder will give the Clippers their best chance of winning one more game this season. 

If the Wizards lose both of their remaining games of the season concluding with the Celtics on Wednesday at 7:30PM, then Wizards fans will turn their attention to the west coast and keep a close watch on the game between the Clippers and Thunder at 10:30PM.  Never before will Washington fans be rooting harder for the Clippers to win a game that most NBA fans would never pay attention to (LA 19-61 vs. OKC 22-58).  As a Wizards fan I would much rather lose the final games of the season and increase my odds of landing Blake Griffin in the draft than by winning a meaningless game or two in an awful season.  At least there still is something to watch if you’re a Wizards fan and have struggled through a 19-61 game season like I have.  Go Clippers!