While the basketball world watched last week as Miami and San Antonio duked it out in one of the greatest finals of our lifetimes, the main focus of the 28 other teams in the league was elsewhere. The NBA draft is looming, and and with it, a chance for the Washington Wizards to plug some holes on what’s otherwise a talented young team.
Let’s start with the bad news: the Wizards went 29-53 this year, dogged by injuries and offensive struggles. The good news is the team has a solid core of young players and a surprisingly good defense. The Wizards were 8th last season in points allowed, but 28th in points scored, illustrating the need for additional offense. With John Wall and Bradley Beal the foreseeable 1 and 2 guards for the future, the ideal pickup for the Wizards would be a small forward or big man capable of scoring. Let’s look at a few players who could fill this role.
Washington owns the 3rd and 38nd picks (last year, weirdly enough, it was the 3rd and 32nd). Even though this has been labeled a weak draft class overall, the Wizards should have their choice of talented big men picking so high in the draft.
Draftexpress.com, my favorite draft resource, currently has the Wizards taking Georgetown SF Otto Porter with the third overall pick. 6’9” and 198, Porter could also play power forward if he fills out his lanky frame. Porter is not an elite athlete, but does everything pretty well. He is an extremely smart player, a gifted passer with excellent court vision, and a respectable three point shooter. A solid post up player as well, on top of everything else he’s a very good defender. Porter’s overall game and scoring ability make him a likely pick for the Wizards.
Another name that’s been tossed around is UNLV PF Anthony Bennett. He provides more of a physical presence than Porter, at 6’8” and 240. Bennett is a natural scorer. He finishes well around the rim thanks to his athletic ability, and has a excellent jump shot for a power forward. However, his post game is undeveloped right now, and he relies heavily on cuts to the basket and short jumpers to score.
This draft is top-heavy with guards and centers, and that’s not what the Wizards need. Bennett and Porter are the two most likely choices for the Wizards, and both will probably be available with the 3rd pick. But just for the hell of it, I’ll throw in a wildcard: The latest and greatest Zeller brother, Indiana sophomore Cody Zeller. Cody moved between and center and power forward this year. He’s not the offensive player Bennett or Porter are. But as a seven footer who can run the floor, he’s certainly an intriguing project. But I think the Wizards will select a player more ready to contribute immediately.
The Wizards are a much better team than their record indicates, and a solid draft could give them the pieces they need to make a playoff run in 2014. The season could hinge on the success, or failure, of the player they select with the third pick.