Bradley Beal: 'We're definitely on the rise'
When the Wizards drafted last season, they landed Bradley Beal at No. 3.
Tuesday, they landed third again, this time with Beal as the team’s representative at the draft lottery in New York. The Wizards improved their prospects for making the playoffs for the first time in five seasons by moving up five spots from No. 8 to No. 3.
“I didn't know we were going to jump up that many spots. I thought we would be seventh or something like that,” Beal told CSN Washington after the lottery in which the Cleveland Cavaliers secured the No. 1 overall pick for the second time in three seasons. “It’s amazing when he said top three. My heart kind of stopped a little bit. I was like ‘Wow.’"
The Orlando Magic had the best odds of getting the top pick with a 25 percent chance but settled for second. The Cavaliers had a 15.6 percent chance. The Wizards were just 3.5 percent.
Charlotte Bobcats, Phoenix Suns, New Orleans Pelicans, Sacramento Kings, Detroit Pistons, Minnesota Timberwolves, Portland Trail Blazers, Philadelphia 76ers, Toronto Raptors, Dallas Mavericks and Utah Jazz pick fell in order after that.
Wizards GM Ernie Grunfeld said the process took just four or five minutes and he knew the results before the lottery was aired on national television. The Cavaliers actually came up first and third. Another ball was drawn that had the Wizards’ name on it.
“It’s all Bradley Beal,” Grunfeld. “He was our good luck charm tonight. I told him that on the way over.”
The results mean the Wizards will have to expand their evaluations after spending last week at the combine in Chicago interviewing the likes of Steven Adams, Cody Zeller and Alex Len.
The Wizards didn't have 30-minute sitdown interviews with Nerlens Noel or Ben McLemore, who are projected to go within the top three picks on June 27. They did interview Georgetown's Otto Porter, who has seen his draft stock rise quickly and could go as high as No. 1.
“Obviously we’re in a better position than we were a couple of hours ago,” Grunfeld. “It feels good that we were able to jump up five spots.
“You have to be open to anything. We've showed that last year we can be a very competitive ballclub. We had a really good second half of the year. We want to build on that and moving up is going to help that process along.”
The Wizards finished 29-53, losing the last six games of the season with Beal, Nene, Emeka Okafor, Trevor Ariza and Martell Webster on the bench with injuries.
“Hopefully, we’ll make a wise decision. Even if we have a lower pick we have high expectations. We’re definitely on the rise,” Beal said. “We definitely want to make a run for the playoffs. It’s really playoffs or nothing for us this year. It’s going to be our year.
“Hopefully all our guys are healthy from the jump and we’ll be able to come out ready for the first game and the city of D.C. will be behind us, supporting us.”