In a newly released trade, the Washington Wizards traded away Rashard Lewis and the 46th pick in the 2012 NBA Draft to New Orleans for Emeka Okafor and Trevor Ariza. Marc Stein reports that the Hornets will cut Lewis before July 1 to limit the amount they must pay him. The trade opens up the center spot for presumed number one pick Anthony Davis, who will be a big part of the New Orleans rebuilding effort.
Many Wizards fans will be happy that Washington was able to find a taker for Lewis. After averaging over 20 points per game in the mid-2000's, Lewis has seen his numbers go steadily down. This past season he averaged only 7.8 points per game, the lowest total since his rookie season in 1998.
His departure represents the Wizards following through with their plans to get the losing culture away from D.C. JaVale McGee and Nick Young were both traded last season, and with the removal of Lewis, Andray Blatche remains the last piece of the underachieving puzzle in Washington.
The Wizards received two players known around the league as tough defensive players, and they should continue to change the culture that has existed in Washington. The additions of Nene and Okafor give the Wizards an intimidating back line on defense, while Ariza is a proven wing defender, something Washington hopes Chris Singleton one day can become.
Okafor played in only 27 games last season and has not been as effective in the post in recent years than when he was fresh out of college. Nevertheless, he still represents a big body and an excellent shot blocker that the Wizards can utilize.
What does this trade mean for the Washington draft? Michael Kidd-Gilchrist is probably not going to be picked since Ariza represents another wing defender. Kidd-Gilchrist was looking like he could be the player chosen with the Wizards third pick, but with the addition of Ariza, Washington has filled its role of tough perimeter defender.
Right now it is most likely looking like the Wizards will draft a scorer, so either Bradley Beal or Harrison Barnes could be the pick at number three.
At this point, I see the Wizards taking Beal with the third pick in the draft. His combination of scoring ability combined with a steadily improving jump shot makes him a perfect fit in D.C.