The Washington Wizards are still looking to take their next step after adding John Wall with the #1 pick 2 seasons ago. This season, they started to purge their roster of a lot of players who had not taken advantage of their opportunities, and now have the makings of a decent foundation, though last year’s 2 first round picks did little to justify their selections. With the #3 pick and two good 2nd round selections, the Wizards can make a big step with the right selections. Let’s look at the choices facing the Washington Wizards:
2011-2012 Record – 20-46 (4th in Southeastern Division, Eastern Conference)
Head Coach – Randy Wittman
2-year Draft History
2011 – Jan Vesely (1st Round, 6th); Chris Singleton (1st Round – 18th), Shelvin Mack (2nd Round – 34th)
2010 – John Wall (1st Round, 1st), Kevin Seraphin (1st Round, 17th – acquired with Kirk Hinrich and cash for draft rights to Vladimir Veremeenko), Trevor Booker (1st Round – 23rd) and Hamady N’Diaye (2nd round – 56th) acquired from Minnesota in exchange for Lazar Hayward (1st Round- 30th) and Nemanja Bjelica (2nd Round – 35th)
Returning Players– Rashard Lewis (SF), Nene (C), Andray Blatche (PF), John Wall (PG), Jan Vesely (SF), Kevin Seraphin (PF), Chris Singleton (SF), Trevor Booker (PF), Jordan Crawford (SG), Shelvin Mack (PG – Team Option)
Team Needs– Perimeter shooting, Backcourt depth, Bench scoring
Position Needs – SG, SF, PF, C
Picks – #3 (1st Round, Pick 3)
#32 (2nd Round, Pick 2)
#46 (2nd Round, Pick 16)
NBA Draft Blog Analysis
With John Wall and some quality players in the frontcourt, the Wizards can go a long way to solidifying their rebuild with a good pick at #3. Of course, what happens with Charlotte at #2 will have some say in what Washington does, but they should still be able to go a long way to improving their team. Bradley Beal would be a great backcourt compliment to Wall. Beal can give the Wizards a consistent perimeter threat, the ability at a pace similar to Wall, and a high IQ player who can make everyone around him better. Concerns about his height mean very little, as he knows how to make adjustments to still be an effective defender. If available, Beal would be the Wizards’ best option. If Beal goes to Charlotte at #2, I think the next best option becomes Thomas Robinson, even with the current frontcourt options. Robinson would instantly be an offensive upgrade over any of the Wizards’ forwards, and being a local product could generate a lot of buzz for a team that greatly needs fan support. Also, I still think Robinson will improve his weak areas rather quickly, and his athleticism should also benefit Wall’s game. The last quality option I would consider at #3 would be Harrison Barnes. Barnes will give an immediate scoring threat to the Wizards and the spacing created by Wall’s ability to get into the lane should also create a lot of room for Barnes to operate. As with the others, I think we will see a lot of quick improvement from Barnes once he gets into the NBA style of play.
This draft also gives the Wizards opportunity to pick up quality role players in the 2nd round. Whether they get Beal or not in Round 1, the opportunity to pick up another shooter will be available in the beginning of Round 2. Similar to the Bobcats, players such as John Jenkins and Doron Lamb could offer them a quality shooter off the bench, and paired with Wall and Beal, could really open the court for the Wizards. They can also look at players who can offer versatile scoring who pair well with Wall, such as Jared Cunningham. However, I think a player who, if available, would be a great fit under any circumstance is Kevin Murphy. Murphy can score in a variety of ways, has great size on the perimeter, and will provide a consistent effort every night. The 46th pick also provides some quality players who can add depth to the Wizards bench and possibly play their way into the rotation. A quality back-up at the 4 or 5 could be found here with players such as JaMychal Green, a solid defender and shot-blocker with some decent offense, or Drew Gordon, a physical presence who can provide scoring and rebounding in limited minutes. Drafting an International player may also be an option, but in a draft of this quality, seems like a wasted pick.
The Wizards closed the season with a flurry of wins and basketball smarts not often seen in these parts, not recently anyway. The presence of Nene – combined with the absence of others – over the second half of the season fueled a semblance of optimism heading into the offseason. For the largely fledgling roster to continue on its evolving path from league punch line to playoff contender, the kids on hand need to take progress by more than just baby steps next season. Improving the overall shooting is a good place to start. In terms of the draft, the Wizards have three picks – including the third overall – to find some perimeter help.
With Kevin Seraphin, Trevor Booker and Jan Vesely up front, the Wizards have young bigs. That makes Kansas’ rebounding star and D.C. native Thomas Robinson a potentially redundant addition. The current small forwards are an underwhelming lot. Therefore the intangible-laden Michael Kidd-Gilchrist makes for an obvious fit, except the Kentucky stud’s jumper is currently broken. Arguments for adding either of those players are legitimate; perhaps one for North Carolina’s Harrison Barnes is as well. However, the one for Florida’s Bradley Beal, the skilled (but very young; turns 19 on draft night) wing guard with textbook form on his shot, is stronger. In time his presence would create more options for the playmaking John Wall and Beal’s shown the ability to create his own offense. Add that element to a burgeoning group that played with a more sharing is caring style down the stretch and suddenly talk of the Wizards as a potential playoff team this year or next is no longer a joke.