Wednesday, May 20, 2009

'Mocking' the Wizards at No. 5

You already know that last night the Wizards were rewarded with the fifth overall pick in the upcoming NBA Draft. And from my last post, you should also know that ESPN's Chad Ford believes James Harden is the "obvious pick" in this spot.

And even though it's early, what do some other basketball minds/writers think?

  • Michael Wilbon, deciding to take an optimistic approach for once, thinks that having the fifth pick can still work out for the Wizards. Unfortunately, he mentions some possible options like trading for Zach Randolph and drafting a point guard because Magic Johnson doesn't think Gilbert Arenas is good enough in the role:

    Arenas, which I've been saying for some time now, shouldn't be the starting point guard. It's one thing for me to say it; it's another thing for Magic Johnson to say it. If Magic says the Wizards should have a pure, set-up-his-teammates point guard to run the offense, I'm listening.

    Jonny Flynn, the kid from Syracuse, looks like he might be a real point guard in the traditional sense, a facilitator. Tyreke Evans, the one-and-done kid from Memphis, is in this draft. Ty Lawson is in this draft. The kid I think has the most upside among the guards, Gerald Henderson, is in this draft. Jeff Teague, the blur from Wake Forest, is in this draft. I like all of them better than Brandon Jennings, who is also in this draft. The Wizards should move DeShawn Stevenson whenever possible, and that could be now if no power player is readily available.

    Sorry for the long quote. It's nice to see Wilbon trying to be positive, but he fails to mention James Harden as at least an option for the Wizards, which is pretty odd. And it also doesn't seem likely that any teams would be lining up for Stevenson, especially since he basically missed most of the season with an injured back.

  • Both Eamonn Brennan of Yahoo! Sports's The Dagger and Sports Illustrated's Ian Thomsen believe that Jordan Hill will be the choice. Brennan provides the best reasoning:

    Because he's the next best thing to Blake Griffin or Hasheem Thabeet (assuming, that is, that Wizards fans wanted one of the two). Like the two players immediately preceding him, Hill is still a work in progress. He needs to improve in a lot of areas. His 2008-09 season with Arizona wasn't exactly gangbusters. Still, he's massive and athletic and his wingspan is roughly the length of my apartment, so it's not hard to see what NBA scouts like so much. The only problem is that it's yet to translate on the court.

    DraftExpress via HoopsHype also has the Wizards taking Hill. There doesn't appear to be many openings in the frontcourt, but the Wizards could always use a tough power forward/center to rebound, play defense, and add some scoring from the post. Is Hill that guy?

  • ESPN's John Hollinger sees the Wizards using the pick in a trade to shed some payroll and avoid the dreaded luxury tax:

    For instance, the Wizards could trade down with Memphis (No. 27), Oklahoma City (No. 25) or Sacramento (No. 23), throw in $3 million (the maximum allowed) and dump Etan Thomas' $7.3 million on their lap, simultaneously getting Washington back to the tax line while still adding another young player. Alternatively, the Wizards could ask for a role-playing wing with a modest contract, or just structure it as a straight salary dump for a future conditional pick.

    I'm fine with the rationale of trading the pick in a package for some veteran help and a lower pick in the first round, but I think Hollinger's wrong in saying that it would mostly be to get under the luxury tax threshold. Normally I would agree, but Abe Pollin himself has said that he's willing to pay extra if it will give the Wizards a better chance to win next season. And Pollin definitely wants to win.

    Such a strategy might not guarantee a winner, but it may be worth a shot.

  • And The Washington Post's Michael Lee, writing before the lottery took place, believes that no matter what the Wizards do with the pick, it won't really matter if the team's core of Arenas, Caron Butler, and Antawn Jamison isn't completely healthy:

    The fifth pick probably isn't the building block that can take the Wizards very far, but unlike the teams that they are looking up at in the East, Washington is set improve faster than most. But the Wizards also have the toughest challenge of all the teams in the NBA lottery. They could blame their futility last season on injuries and youngsters and veterans playing outside of their roles. But now, with the healthy players back, they have to get it together, get out of the first round or get another plan.

    Well said, and I agree.
Mock drafts don't really mean a whole lot in the grand scheme of things, but it still helps with getting an idea on who the best players are and what the Wizards' best options might be.

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