The Washington Wizards are in the NBA draft lottery once again. That would be four straight years, but only if you’re counting—general manager Ernie Grunfeld obviously is not. However, as I wrote in an article earlier this week, the Wizards showed promise last year. With John Wall’s health, this draft pick is the most important thing to Washington’s future.
Any sensible Wizards fan knows that there is no sure thing in the draft when the long-tenured Grunfeld is drafting. Despite hitting on Wall and Bradley Beal recently, he has absolutely wasted first-round picks in Jan Vesely, Nick Young, Oleksiy Pecherov and Chris Singleton, just to name a few.
He also famously traded away the fifth overall pick to the Timberwolves for Randy Foye and Mike Miller; a pick that could have been Steph Curry, Ricky Rubio or Ty Lawson.
However, the Wizards were able to build a young backcourt with Wall and Beal. A third scoring option needs to be the main priority when June 27finally rolls around. It’s important that the Wizards use this pick on a young forward, as opposed to trading it for a veteran that would help them ‘win now’.
Mike Wise, a long tenured The Washington Post writer, wrote an article about how the Wizards should trade the pick for a veteran who would help them win now. This could not be a bigger mistake. John Wall is 22, Bradley Beal is 19 and their incoming rookie will be very young as well; the Wizards have plenty of time to actually develop a successful team.
Wise suggested switching out No. 3 pick and Trevor Booker for Detroit’s No. 8 pick and Greg Monroe; Detroit would laugh at that offer. He also recommended that we work to bring in Danny Granger, who missed all but five games this season with a knee injury that took longer to recover than expected.
The Wizards have already made that mistake in severely overpaying Gilbert Arenas when he was returning from a knee injury that took longer than expected to recover, and that was an inexcusable mistake.
Wall talked about the Wizards' pick during a Red Bull sponsored event earlier this week (per Eric Detweiler of the The Washington Post).
“It’s up in the air right now. I feel like we need a four man that can pick and pop, so we’ll just see.”
Grunfeld needs to listen to his star player here. The Wizards are in great need of a scoring forward and the player he is clearly describing is Anthony Bennett of UNLV. Bennett’s 6'8", 240-pound frame combined with his confident mid-range shooting stroke makes him the perfect pick and pop player for the Wizards.
Bennett averaged 16.1 points per game and 8.1 rebounds per game while having to lead his team each and every night. The UNLV freshman also played in every single game this past season, something that the Wizards need to take into account based on their deteriorating health every season.
The other option in the draft is Otto Porter out of Georgetown. The 6'8" small forward was the Big East Player of the Year, as well as a consensus first-team All-American. The thing that makes Porter special is that he can simply do everything on the basketball court.
His stats are eerily similar to Bennett’s (16.2 PPG, 7.4 RPG) while playing in a more difficult division. Overall, Porter has a good shot and plays solid defense.
Both players would improve the Wizards to new heights. With Bennett, the Wizards could split time between two very similar players in Emeka Okafor and Nene. Both are subpar shooters and have no ability in the pick-and-pop game. The UNLV prospect would be able to bring a frontcourt scoring option, freeing up Wall and Beal.
Porter would simply give Wall another choice in his drive-and-dish game. He would be an improvement over Martell Webster, who would be a much better sixth man than a starting small forward. Having Porter, another player who can consistently hit open three-pointers, would help the Wizards, as they continue to struggle for a third scoring option.
Both Bennett and Porter would be an improvement over Okafor and Webster, respectfully. While many fans will argue that the Wizards should trade the pick because of Grunfeld’s long history of making mistakes in the draft, this is illogical. It’s better to fix the problem by firing Grunfeld than simply trading the pick for an older player.
The Wizards were given the opportunity to be a true playoff contender when they won the No. 3 pick at the draft lottery. Drafting Bennett or Porter will give them a great young core and a very bright future.
*All stats were taken from ESPN.com