The Wizards were one ping pong ball away from landing Zion

Josh Luckenbaugh
May 15, 2019 - 7:51 am

Heading into Tuesday night's NBA Draft Lottery, the Wizards only had a nine percent chance of landing the No. 1 pick, and by extension Zion Williamson.

Of course, the Wizards defied the odds in the opposite direction, winding up with the ninth overall pick. But as the lottery unfolded, the Wizards came unbelievably close to getting the top pick. 

Ben Golliver of The Washington Post reported that after the first three of four lottery number drawings, the Wizards had the second-most combinations to get the No. 1 pick, only surpassed by the Pelicans. 

ESPN's Zach Lowe provided some more detail on the scene in the drawing room: 

"The first three balls drawn on the winning combination were numbers 7, 4, and 12," Lowe wrote Wednesday. "The worst teams -- New York, Phoenix, and Cleveland -- owned 420 of the 1,000 four-number combinations, and most of the combos featuring 1s, 2s, and 3s. There is real suspense in the air when the first three numbers drawn are 4 or higher. For 10 delicious seconds -- and exactly 10 by league rule -- a lot of teams are in play."

"Tommy Sheppard, the Wizards' top executive since the team fired Ernie Grunfeld, also felt butterflies, he told afterward. The Wizards owned a few combinations featuring 4, 7, and 12. For a moment, Sheppard let himself envision Washington erasing a year of rotten feelings. 'Of course you do that,' Sheppard said. 'But then you remember this is like bingo. You can't control anything.'" 

But just one ping pong ball away from Zion Williamson, Washington did not get a number it needed in the final drawing and fell all the way to ninth, New Orleans winding up with the top choice. 

So close, yet so, so, so, far. And yes, so Wizards. 

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