Washington Wizards: The 2013 NBA Draft Offers Ernie's Last Chance
Ernie Grunfeld has stockpiled more losing seasons and dud draft picks than arguably any other GM in the NBA. The only other man in professional basketball making more money than Ernie and producing less is Juwan Howard. A former Wizard. And Rashard Lewis. Another former Wizard. Coincidence? Maybe.
The Wizards have averaged 23 wins the past five seasons. After a promising (in jest) 29 win season this past year, the Wizards opted to stick with Randy Wittman, for reasons unknown. While Memphis, Los Angeles (Clippers), Brooklyn and Denver all went looking for new coaches, the lowly Wizards decided it best to stay put. The chance to grab Lionel Hollins, after a 56 win season with the Grizzlies, or the veteran P.J. Carlesimo would have been much too fanciful for Grunfeld who would rather be stubbornly pragmatic. Grunfeld has kept the Wizards in two very bad places; both mired in complacency and clamoring annually for a lottery pick.
Thus, Wizards fans were not shocked when rumors swirled that the Wiz were entertaining a trade with the Bulls for a 28 year old Loul Deng, whose best seasons were probably 3-4 seasons ago. Sound Ernie-esque? Surely. Trade the number three pick, youth with endless possibility, for a grizzled veteran with a history of injuries? Classic Ernie.
With the third pick in tomorrow's NBA draft, the Wizards need to make the only selection that really makes sense. The only selection that fans (the few still admitting to be) want to be made. That player is Georgetown star Otto Porter, Jr. It made sense last month, last week, today, and will make sense tomorrow.
The Washington Post has it that the Wizards are between Otto and UNLV forward Anthony Bennett. While Bennett might draw comparisons to former UNLV star and NBA great Larry Johnson, what sense does it make to draft another power forward? To sit Bennett behind Nene and make him fight for playing time with Trevor Booker and draft bust Jan Vesely makes little to no sense.
Out of pure frustration, the Vesely situation must be addressed. "Bust" status should be applied here, and not sparingly. The sixth pick in the 2011 NBA Draft, Vesely is one of the worst moves that Grunfeld has made here in Washington. Even Vinny Cerrato laments this pick. Vesely averaged 2.5 ppg and 2.4 rpg last season. If you want to ruin your night and your dinner, digest on the players drafted after Vesely who could now be Wizards. Klay Thompson. Kawhi Leonard. Kenneth Faried. Tobias Harris. Dinner ruined.
This draft might be Ernie's last. Even with his "win now" mentality, the Wizards need to go in a different direction. This team might have playoff potential, but does it have championship potential? What excitement is there to make the playoffs before being promptly oustered by the likes of the Miami Heat or Indiana Pacers?
The Wizards need to dedicate themselves to the youth movement and that begins with tomorrow's draft. With three draft picks total, the Wizards need to approach the draft with the goal of finding an immediate starter and a quality role player. The Wizards don't need to dangle draft picks for vets such as Deng or Danny Granger. Ernie needs to savor this experience; the draft room, endless phone ringing and overpriced popcorn at the Barclays Center because it could be his last.
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