Not Drinking the "Gator-Aid": Washington Wizards 2012 Draft Review and General Fantasy GM Thoughts

I haven't done much of these posts, as I usually feel it's not my style to do so, but as an enthusiastic sports observer, I guess I should do more of these.

The NBA Draft was last night, and I wanted to offer a few thoughts on it. Mainly, on the Washington Wizards, since they are the team that I follow and have the most interest in. I am not going to offer much commentary (if at all) on the other teams, since I don't know each individual team's situation and needs, and I will mainly comment on what the Wizards did, and offer a few thoughts on it. I know the Wizards aren't really "buzz-worthy" or a general topic of national interest, since they have been bad for so long, but since it's my blog, I can discuss this if I want to.

Overall, I would give the Wizards a C-/D+ in the draft. The Bradley Beal pick at #3 overall was just an okay pick for me. I'm not sold on him and not drinking the Orange "Gator-aid" (pun on Kool-Aid) as much as most of the Washington fans and media seems to be about this kid. Don't get me wrong, he does seem to be the best shooter coming out of the draft, and the Wizards was in a desperate need for a scorer when they got rid of one of their "knuckleheads" Nick Young. That's what they are anticipating him to be. But, I'm usually always kind of weary if you're bringing a rookie in to these situations and expect him to carry a full load. Before the draft, the only scorer/wingman they had was Roger Mason Jr (who is a free agent, if I'm not mistaken), so their options at the 2 position is quite limited. This 19-year old kid will be coming in to a situation to bear the expectation that he probably has to score at least 13-15 points a night for this team to be successful. That's not a good situation for a kid to get into. In my opinion, a reason why Wall hasn't developed quite as quickly (though still quite good) as many have hoped, is because from day 1, he was expected to carry a team full of knuckleheads. Sure, a good amount of those players are now gone, and the team has better talent, but the team should've learned that they shouldn't put too much pressure on young kids and expect them to carry the team. This pick seems to be indicative that they haven't learned that lesson.

Another reason why I was weary of the Beal pick was that when he first started in Florida, he struggled with his shot. He didn't really make a name for himself until late in the season, and going into the NCAA tournament when he lit it up and led the team to the Elite-8. The NBA is a different monster, and who's to say that he may get into another slow start (which is likely), and if he does, that this time, since the talent he's going against is on a different level, that his confidence won't be shot?

But, since the Wizards made that deal with New Orleans last week to get rid of Rashard Lewis to acquire Trevor Ariza and Emeka Okafor, most people who followed this team knew that it was likely they would go with Beal with this pick. This trade was a good trade in that it got took Rashard Lewis' salary out of the books, and we seem to have upgraded the forward and center positions (from 3-5), but I don't think this was the best trade we could've made. This trade made us older on the 4-5 positions, which I feel isn't the positions you aren't supposed to get to get older, since these guys spend most of their time on the paint, and endure most of the punishment of the NBA game. 

If we made a trade, I was hoping we could get a proven 2-guard vet on a deal, who can shoot, that would not only help Wall and the Wizards on the backcourt game, but also directly and indirectly mentor him on how he can be an elite guard in the league. The said player didn't have to be "elite" himself (to most standards), but just good enough to be very complementary to what Wall brings to the table, while at the same time, already was at league long enough to know the rigors of the NBA, and what he brings to the table. If we acquired that same kind of guard in free agency, I would have been good with that as well. Ray Allen is an unrestricted free agent this year, and I believe that the Wizards should have at least put a bid on him, even if it's just for a 1 or 2 year contract. It was highly doubtful that he would've came here, but if they put a serious bid for him to come here, he would have at least considered it, and would have sent a message to Wall (who is a few years away from the end of his rookie contract), that they are serious in winning. Guys like Michael Redd, and Tracy McGrady are also available in free agency. By most, they would be considered "has-beens" who are a shell of what they were in their prime, but I see them as players who knew what it took to be good, and could be great compliments to John Wall, as a player, or as a person.

People would say that the main reason why this trade was made was to get rid of the Rashard Lewis contract. However, if the Wizards weren't able to get rid of the Lewis contract via trading for a 2-guard, they could have resorted to a buyout (which was rumored to be around 13-14 million). I can't speak for Lewis, and although it's a far cry from what the 24 million he was getting due this year, I'm guessing he would have agreed to those terms because it was obvious he didn't want to play there.

Don't think that I was trying to imply that the Wizards didn't get better from the trade last week. They got a lot better. However, as noted, I believed they could have gotten even better than that, ultimately in a longer period, if they made other moves.

As far as who I believed they should have drafted last night, I truly believe they should have drafted the best available player in Thomas Robinson. He is a long term answer in the 4-position, as he is a very pure power forward who averaged a double double in college, and instantly improves that position a lot. Many have told me that the Wizards are very deep in the position, and although they have a lot of players in the 4/5 position, doesn't necessarily make it deep. Trevor Booker is a short, but wide, power forward, who I don't think will come close to the level of Charles Barkley (like many Wizards faithful are hoping for). Jan Vesely, is a long, tall, but lanky power forward, who would rather run than post, and Kevin Seraphin has the bulk of a center, but not the height (6'9" 275 lb), so he's a tweener in that position. The "purest" PFs the Wizards have are Nene and Chris Singleton, who are utilized more in the 5 and 3 positions, respectively. If the Wizards had a player purely designated in that role, who can play good minutes and produce, this team may have taken the next step. I believe Thomas Robinson could have been that player. He ended up being drafted at 5 by Sacramento, and he has competition there with Demarcus Cousins, but if he ends up unseating him as a starter and gets to play, the Wizards will see what they missed out on.

As far as the other pick that the Wizards made, the 32nd overall pick in the 2nd round, it was a typical Ernie Grunfeld/Ted Leonsis pick. Don't get me wrong, I have a lot of respect for Ted Leonsis, as I follow several of his principles from his "Business of Happiness" book, but ever since he's owned the Wizards, the Wizards have overvalued international talent and drafted them, seemingly because they were international, and international diversity seems to be good for a team on the long run (see the Dallas Mavericks, San Antonio Spurs, etc). Every single year since Mr. Leonsis owned the team, it seems an international player was drafted probably higher than he should have been (Seraphin in '10, Vesely in '11, and Satornasky in '12). What happened to taking the best player available? I know they missed out on drafting Ricky Rubio in 2009 (instead, practically giving the pick away for players who only played one year), but this is ridiculous.

But, as usual when I'm more on the negative side when it comes to the DC area sports teams, I am hoping that I am wrong. Maybe Beal will turn out to be the "Ray Allen type of shooter" that many are projecting him to be, and will be a great compliment to Wall, and maybe Ernie Grunfeld will still have a job with the Wizards in 2 years. I do think the moves they made were pretty good, but I don't think they were the best moves, and that they were good enough for them to compete any time soon.

Like I said, I hope I'm wrong. But we'll see.


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