Washington Wizards Facing Tough Decision with Third Overall Pick
The Washington Wizards and Oklahoma City Thunder are two of the youngest teams in the NBA, and both are headed in two distinctly different directions. The Wizards lack a player as dynamic as Russell Westbrook, or as gifted as Kevin Durant, but they have one of the most talented young point guards in John Wall.
If the Wizards hope to join the Thunder among the elite in the NBA, and contend for a championship, they will need to find Wall's running mate in this year's draft.
With the third overall pick, the Washington Wizards could go in a lot of different directions. They need someone who can make an impact from day one, but at what position?
Here are some of the options the Wizards have with their first pick in the draft.
Though rarely popular, the decision to trade back is always a possibility at the top of the draft. The Wizards can't afford to outright trade the pick for players as they did in 2009, but there's no harm in looking for more picks.
Trading back would lessen the chances of finding the impact player the team desperately needs, but it could bring in some solid young talent.
Opting for a quantity over quality approach means the Wizards are still trying to find their spark. Wall has reached a developmental crossroads, and rather than impose a playing style on him, Washington is opting for an organic approach. It has worked out before, with Trevor Booker and Kevin Seraphin landing in Washington following trades during the 2010 draft.
With two years of Ernie Grunfeld's reign ahead, maybe it is for the better that the Wizards don't reach for their star in this year's draft.
Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Small Forward, Kentucky
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Top five picks in the NBA are typically considered franchise-changing stars in-the-making. Whether they pan out that way is another story, but Michael Kidd-Glichrist doesn't fit the mold of boom or bust prospect.
Kidd-Glichrist is a jack-of-all-trades who brings defensive pressure and a willingness to do everything on the floor.
Though the Wizards could use a swingman like Kidd-Gilchrist, they already drafted a small forward in Jan Vesely last year. Vesely is more of an offensive wing than Kidd-Gilchrist, but he is more raw overall. Kidd-Gilchrist can be a team's third scoring option, and would thrive with John Wall's ability to create for others.
However, drafting Kidd-Gilchrist would render last season's pick useless, or create a shortage of minutes as the Wizards attempt to balance their floor time to keep them warm.
Andre Drummond, Center, Connecticut
The Wizards acquired big man Nene from the Nuggets last season in their effort to rid themselves of JaVale McGee and Nick Young. Even though he was productive in the time he played with the team before missing time with foot injuries.
Connecticut's Andre Drummond has drawn comparisons to Dwight Howard, right down to his athletic ability and raw offensive skills.
However promising Drummond is as a presence in the paint, he needs a lot of work on his game and could use a little motivation to get over his immaturity and improve his level of commitment. Drummond's game relies heavily on the creativity of others, which works if the Wizards want to keep John Wall as a facilitator.
The issue with drafting Drummond is balancing floor time between him, Nene and the bruising Kevin Seraphin. It's risky bringing a project player into an already unstable environment.
Thomas Robinson, Power Forward, Kansas
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Thomas Robinson is billed as the most NBA-ready prospect in this draft. What he lacks in prototypical size, he makes up for with defense, rebounding and an incomparable work ethic.
He would be a stabilizing presence on a team in need of stability, but his still limited offensive ability doesn't alleviate any of the pressure from John Wall.
Robinson is a strong power forward who can hurt teams on the boards, and keep defenders on their toes with his level of activity.
The Wizards already have a Robinson-like player in Trevor Booker, which creates a bit of redundancy. Robinson is a more accomplished version of Booker, but the presence of two undersized overachievers doesn't help the Wizards enough to push through their two-year funk.
Harrison Barnes, Small Forward, North Carolina
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Harrison Barnes is the offensive equivalent of Michael Kidd-Gilchirst. He can be a featured scorer for the Wizards, but isn't going to do much on the defensive end of the floor. The Wizards need a player to take on the scoring load from John Wall, and Barnes has that type of game.
Wall's ability to create for others would be put to great use with Barnes, who is not known for his ability to generate shots for himself.
Drafting Barnes, like drafting Kidd-Gilchrist, would bump Jan Vesely down to a sixth man role, which is occupied by the likes of Chris Singleton and Shelvin Mack. The Wizards would gain a scorer, but muddle their depth chart, furthering them from whatever identity they were working towards with previous drafts.
Bradley Beal, Shooting Guard, Florida
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Jordan Crawford is not the type of player the Wizards need or want as their starting shooting guard. He takes too many bad shots and doesn't get to rim consistently to really show he has a diverse offensive game.
Bradley Beal is no more of a slasher than Crawford, but he has the potential to be a much better shooter from beyond the arc.
The Wizards need a scoring option to help John Wall, as I've mentioned several times. Beal doesn't have the skills to be a team's second scorer, but he can knock down big shots from range, which would open things up for Wall's drives and whatever post player the Wizards give the starting job to.
Beal's size is his biggest issue, and it isn't helping his good but not spectacular leaping ability.