Even though three other teams had better odds to get the first overall pick in the next NBA Draft, somehow the Washington Wizards defied the odds and won the NBA Draft Lottery, giving Mrs. Pollin a nice moment in the spotlight as the franchise her late husband owned looks to take its next step to rebuild towards the future.

So what now?

What do the Wizards do?

A few months ago when it became apparent that they were going to completely miss the playoffs and end up as one of the worst teams in the league, Washington started dumping players and trading away names like Jamison and Butler who had become the faces of the franchise, guys who were thought to be key pieces of the Nations Capital’s Triplets who might have very well brought a championship to D.C.

So what now?  What’s the next move?  Draft John Wall from Kentucky?  Many in DC and across the nation think that it would be a terrible idea to have Gilbert Arenas and John Wall on the same team together.  Not only would it create problems on the court, given their respective playing styles (both of which require them to handle the ball a lot), but many believe that Gilbert Arenas influence on John Wall could be destructive for the young talent.

THE major problem facing the Wizards right now, above all else, is that Gilbert Arenas’ contract makes it nearly impossible to trade him, especially with the injury history and personal conduct issues facing Arenas.

One potential solution being floated about the sports talk stratosphere is to trade Gilbert Arenas in a package deal which would include the #1 overall pick.  This could be a decent option, and although it means that the Wizards wouldn’t get John Wall, they could get another decent draft pick in return and use it to pick up another good young player who could contribute in a major way to this team, letting someone else deal with the problem of how to handle Gil Arenas and John Wall.

Would it be terrible if the Wizards traded away the top overall pick?  The DMV (DC-Maryland-Virginia / Nation’s Capital area) might be a bit disheartened, but it wouldn’t be the end of the world.  In fact, it might actually turn out in their favor.

Blake Griffin, the top overall pick in the 2009 draft, was sidelined due to injuries and didn’t help the Los Angeles Clippers.  Second overall pick Hasheem Thabeet became the highest drafted player in NBA history to end up being sent to the Developmental League.  James Harden didn’t start a single game this season, but he contributed an average of 10 points per game.  Tyreke Evans, fourth overall pick, has been a very solid player for Sacramento with 20 points per game and nearly 6 rebounds AND assists per game.  Ricky Rubio, who was drafted in the 5th spot by the Minnesota Timberwolves (who obtained the pick in a trade FROM Washington), still hasn’t stepped foot onto a basketball court in the United States.  Johnny Flynn, who the Timberwolves got with their regular 6th pick, started 81 games for Minnesota and averaged 13 points and 4 assists.   Stephen Curry, the 7th overall pick, has blown all those guys away with his 17 points per game, 6 assists and 2 steals.  Talk about a steal.

The 2008 draft doesn’t have as many similar stories, but 2007 does, and I invite you to look at all the drafts from the last 6 years and see where the guys were drafted who are playing vital roles on successful teams.

Rajan Rondo was the 21st overall selection, and many believe him to be the biggest factor behind the Boston Celtics being in the Eastern Conference Finals right now.

Jameer Nelson was selected 20th overall, and he’s a huge key to why Orlando has been in the Eastern Conference Finals the past couple years.

Manu Ginobili was the 57th overall pick, and although he has never averaged over 20 points per game for a season, you can bet that the Spurs wouldn’t be as good as they are without his 1.5 steals per game or the 5 assists per game which he frequently provides them – his productivity only increasing in the playoffs by an additional steal and an additional assist per game on average.

The key to turning around the Washington Wizards might not be the addition of a superstar.  It might be the addition of a roleplayer to fit in with the guys like Andray Blatche who are starting to find their role with the team.  Flip Saunders is a quality coach, and I find it hard to name an executive in pro sports who has had better luck lately at building up young teams than Ted Leonsis has done with the Washington Capitals.  Having dispatched stars like Jagr, Bondra and others in past years, he has the opportunity to step into a very similar situation now and show that his concept can work in the NBA just like it did with the Washington Capitals in the NHL.

It’s going to take a little time, but with or without John Wall, the Washington Wizards can be good again… though the conventional wisdom amongst those “in the know” is that it’s not a good idea for Gilbert Arenas to stay around if John Wall comes to town.