NBA Draft: Fate Hands Washington Wizards Perfect Opportunity with No. 3 Pick
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For the first time in a long time, the Washington Wizards were lucky last Tuesday when they landed the No. 3 overall pick in this year's NBA Draft.
This opens up a number of opportunity for the Wizards, a team that constantly seems to be in last place in the Southeast Division and even the Eastern Conference.
There seems to be a consensus among fans in Washington that it is in the team's best interest to use that pick on drafting a player.
Out of the four or five possible players who could go in the top three picks of the draft, Otto Porter seems to be the best fit for the Wizards.
Porter, a small forward out of Georgetown, would not only bring more fans into the Verizon Center during home games, but would also fill a serious need on the team.
Because Martell Webster is a free agent, there is currently no starting small forward on the Wizards' starting roster, making Porter almost a no-brainer.
Besides the fact that Porter is from the DC area, his collegiate numbers are impressive.
The 19-year-old averaged 16 points and over seven rebounds per game this season with Georgetown all while shooting 48 percent from the floor.
However, Porter certainly isn't a lock for the No. 3 slot. There are reports that the Cleveland Cavaliers are considering taking him with the No. 1 overall pick, which would force the Wizards to look at other options.
If the Cavs took Porter at the No. 1 spot, that would presumably leave Nerlens Noel available for Washington.
Noel, a power forward/center from Kentucky, has huge upside and almost unlimited potential at his size and ability. But past injury history is certainly a concern on Noel, who only played part of a season in college before declaring for the draft.
When he was playing, however, Noel was certainly impressive, averaging close to a double-double per game in points and rebounds.
Although a Noel pickup would bring some name power to the roster, it would cause some serious problems with personnel.
Washington would still be without a small forward, and would most likely have to sign someone in free agency. Or, they could pull off a trade using either Emeka Okafor or Nenê.
Either Nenê, the current starting power forward, or Okafor, the current starting center, would then be without a job.
Okafor is on the last year of his contract in DC, while Nenê is still under contract through the 2015-16 season.
One of those could certainly be traded for a small forward, but they are both aging and aren't nearly as attractive to potential trade partners as someone younger, or a draft pick, would be.
A third option for the Wizards at the No. 3 pick is Anthony Bennett, a point guard out of the University of Nevada at Las Vegas.
Bennett, like Noel, left college after only his freshman year to enter the draft, but the 6'7" power forward has significant potential.
Bennett has a great jump shot, but can also drive the ball and shoot with either hand.
However, it's questionable how well Bennett would fit into the Wizards' game plan, given his most noticeable weaknesses are on defense, the one thing Washington stood on this season.
Drafting Bennett also brings up the same problem for Washington, what to do with Nenê and Okafor, especially given their large contracts.
Okafor is making $14.5 million next season, the largest salary on the team, and Nenê is making the second-highest amount at $13.
At those prices, trading them would be tough and cutting them would be a huge cap hit.
Besides drafting a player at the No. 3 overall pick, general manager Ernie Grunfeld also has the option to trade the pick for a current player which would give the team more of a win-now approach.
There is no doubting that Grunfeld is a great trader, and a subpar talent evaluator, which doesn't make trading the pick out of the question.
One name that has been floating around is DeMarcus Cousins, who currently plays for the Sacramento Kings. Cousins is unhappy playing in Sacramento, and the Kings draft at No. 10 overall, much farther back in the draft than Washington.
Cousins is still very young at 22, and has almost as much potential as a big man in the league as Bennett or Noel.
However, taking on Cousins would also mean taking on his contract a little less than $5 million next season.
A trade that would involve either Nenê or Okafor, the No. 3 pick and Cousins could offset the problems with Cousins's contract, but his 17 points and just under 10 rebounds per game are almost priceless at his size.
Despite the options for a trade, the Wizards would be much safer going with someone in the draft, ideally Porter, but if Porter is gone before the third pick, Noel or Bennett would round out their core already in place with John Wall and Bradley Beal.
Porter is the best option here because the positions of center and power forward are already occupied for next season, and a starting lineup containing Wall, Beal and Porter would mean a potent offense for a team that already knows how to play great defense.
Until draft day, Grunfeld and the rest of the front office have a number of options, but because they were lucky enough to land the No. 3 pick, almost any move would mean an improvement for the Wizards.
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