- The Washington Times - Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Last season, Cleveland Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert sent his 14-year-old son, Nick, on stage to represent the franchise at the NBA Draft Lottery. The strategy worked.

The Cavaliers got the first pick and selected Duke point guard Kyrie Irving, who was this year’s runaway selection for Rookie of the Year.

Wizards owner Ted Leonsis is hoping the same strategy will pay off for Washington. Leonsis’ son, Zack, will represent the Wizards at the NBA draft lottery, which will be held Wednesday in New York before the second game of the Eastern Conference final between the Boston Celtics and Miami Heat.

“We have a fresh face who hopefully brings us some luck in Zack Leonsis,” Wizards president Ernie Grunfeld said.

Zack Leonsis graduated from the University of Pennsylvania last year and is working for Monumental Sports and Entertainment as a manager of business development.

The Wizards finished the season with the second-worst record in the NBA (20-46) and will have a 19.9 percent chance of getting the No. 1 pick — projected to be University of Kentucky forward Anthony Davis. The Charlotte Bobcats, who finished 7-59, have a 25 percent chance of landing Davis.

It will be the fourth straight appearance in the draft lottery for the Wizards after qualifying for the playoffs the four previous years. In the meantime, the team is assessing potential prospects.

The Wizards invited William Buford (Ohio State), Scott Christopherson (Iowa State), Kenny Gabriel (Auburn), Chris Johnson (LSU), Gerald Robinson (Georgia) and Charlie Westbrook (South Dakota) to participate in a workout last week.

“It’s always a very exciting time of year,” Grunfeld said. “There’s competition out there on the floor. They’re auditioning for jobs, so it’s an exciting time for us, and I’m sure it’s an exciting time for the players.”

After the trading deadline, when the Wizards acquired Nene from the Denver Nuggets for JaVale McGee and sent Nick Young to the Los Angeles Clippers, Grunfeld said that the Wizards were set at the two toughest positions to fill — center and point guard — and must begin rebuilding the rest of the roster.

Acquiring the right player in this year’s draft, which is June 28, will be critical as the Wizards seek to appease an impatient fan base that hopes next year won’t result in yet another trip to the draft lottery.

• Carla Peay can be reached at cpeay@washingtontimes.com.

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