The NBA Draft Lottery was held June 22, providing franchises and fan bases alike new hope.
14 teams that did not make the playoffs this year heard their names called as ping pong balls were selected.
Ben Wallace and the Detroit Pistons secured the number one overall pick.
NBA DRAFT LOTTERY 🚨
14. Warriors pic.twitter.com/FxfltGNidN
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) June 23, 2021
The Houston Rockets, Cleveland Cavaliers, Toronto Raptors, and Orlando Magic rounded out the top five.
Orlando and the Golden State Warriors both have two lottery selections.
After pick No. 14, the order is set based on the inverse of regular-season standings.
Meaning the Washington Wizards, Memphis Grizzlies, and other young teams were on the outside looking in.
Making the playoffs is always the goal, but some teams could have used another lottery selection.
Here are two NBA playoff teams that maybe would have rather partook in the lottery than the playoffs.
2. Washington Wizards
The Wizards were the most obvious choice.
Moves by the front office last offseason portrayed they wanted to try and compete now.
While they did make the playoffs, they bowed out in a gentleman’s sweep to the Philadelphia 76ers.
Washington has seemingly been putting off the inevitable for some time now.
They had not made the NBA playoffs since 2017-2018 and have footed a massive team salary due to the bloated contracts of both Wall and Westbrook.
Beal has so far been off the table in terms of trade talks, even though he is their best chance at jumpstarting a rebuild.
The Wizards have been 29 or worse in points allowed three years running and have no clear path to fixing that.
Up until April 18, Washington was the 12th seed in the Eastern Conference, well on their way to securing a top-10 pick.
But they went 11-5 down the stretch to secure a spot in the play-in tournament.
If the Wizards had thrown in the towel, they could conceivably be looking at a top-five pick in the draft.
Giving them the chance to take one of those franchise players.
Trade Beal for additional picks and more young talent from a contender, and the Wizards could have turbocharged their rebuilding effort.
Instead, they sit at 15th in the draft, with no cap space and little chance to draft a future-changing prospect.
The Wizards seem to be staring down NBA mediocrity for the foreseeable future.
1. Memphis Grizzlies
The Memphis Grizzlies were a tough team to include.
But looking at the remaining playoff teams left them standing simply due to their age.
The Boston Celtics are in win-now mode with Jayson Tatum.
Miami was the defending champs.
New York and Atlanta were both middle of the pack in the Eastern Conference playoff picture.
Those four teams make up the 16th, 18th, 19th, and 20th picks, respectively.
This is why we will be choosing the Grizzlies.
Last year saw Memphis finish ninth and lose in the play-in game to the Portland Trail Blazers.
They were led by their dynamic rookie point guard, Ja Morant.
The Memphis Grizzlies have landed 4 of the last 30 All Rookie Team players over the last 3 years. pic.twitter.com/S71K63SV90
— Anthony Sain (@SainAsylum) June 18, 2021
Making the play-in game was ahead of their rebuilding timeline, but showed their young nucleus was for real.
Playoff experience is always a positive for a young team, so they should not have tanked.
But they could still use another star to pair with Morant.
Jaren Jackson has shown flashes as an elite two-way big but has missed significant time each year due to injury.
Dillon Brooks is a promising wing who plays terrific defense but could improve some as a shooter.
This draft is seen as having four potential franchise players – Cade Cunningham, Jalen Green, Jalen Suggs, and Evan Mobley.
There is talent after those four but they mostly project as fringe All-Stars or solid role players.
Making the playoffs will be beneficial for the young Grizzlies moving forward.
But another crack at the lottery could have netted them another fantastic wing prospect to play with Morant, Brooks, and Jackson.