Emeka Okafor to Wizards: How Trade Affects Washington's Draft Strategy

Ben Chodos@bchodosCorrespondent IIJune 20, 2012

NEW ORLEANS, LA - JANUARY 06:  Emeka Okafor #50 of the New Orleans Hornets dunks the ball during the game against the Denver Nuggets at the New Orleans Arena on January 6, 2012 in New Orleans, Louisiana.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
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The Washington Wizards and New Orleans Hornets pulled off the first big move of the offseason by swapping Rashard Lewis and a pick for Emeka Okafor and Trevor Ariza.

Jonathan Givony of DraftExpress.com reported the news via Twitter.

New Orleans trades Emeka Okafor and Trevor Ariza to Washington for Rashard Lewis and the #46 pick. (damn you auto-correct)

— Jonathan Givony (@DraftExpress) June 20, 2012

The trade gives Washington a defensive force in the middle and another solid defender on the perimeter. Now, they must go all-in on Florida’s Bradley Beal to complete the roster.

Okafor has always made his presence felt in the paint. His best defensive season was with Charlotte in 2006-07 when he averaged 2.6 blocks per game.

The 29-year-old has averaged 12.7 points and 10.0 rebounds in his career.

Ariza had been with the Hornets for two seasons and averaged 10.8 points and 5.2 rebounds this past year. He is lanky and athletic, which makes him a tough on-ball defender. 

The two former Hornets will help the Wizards’ defense, which ranked 20th in points allowed per game last season.

Ariza and Okafor will likely join John Wall and Nene in the starting lineup, and the team must now heavily target Beal with the No. 3 pick.

Anthony Davis is sure to go first to the Hornets, leaving the Charlotte Bobcats with a difficult decision. Beal, Michael-Kidd Gilchrist from Kentucky and Thomas Robinson from Kansas are all viable options.

Beal would be the ideal player to complete the Wizard’s starting lineup, and the team will have to hope that Charlotte takes one of the other two prospects, or orchestrates a deal to move up a spot.

Beal is a terrific shooter who can also drive and finish at the rim. He averaged 14.8 points per game for the Gators as a freshman. He is also a fantastic rebounder for a guard, and pulled down 6.7 boards a night. 

Adding Beal would give the Wizards a young, athletic backcourt with two players that can create their own shot. 

These two guards would be an excellent fit with defensive minded players like Ariza and Okafor. 

Genereal manager Ernie Grunfeld has gotten off to an excellent start this offseason, but he must ensure that he gets Beal in the draft. None of the other top prospects are ideal fits for the new-look Wizards. 

If the team drafts Beal, this trade will undoubtedly be viewed as a wise move.