The rumors are flying about how the Wizards can carefully budget and maneuver to take Ricky Rubio in the upcoming NBA Draft. And for a while, I was all for those rumors.
But when you think about what it would cost for such a move to happen, like future team center JaVale McGee, and when you weigh that against what the outcome of Pretty Ricky's arrival in Washington would probably turn out to be, it’s not worth it. The Wizards should be cautious of mortgaging their post presence for the next eight years, and even moreso of selecting a guard who could easily be eaten alive by year three in D.C.
Bottom line—McGee is more athletic, more aggressive, and far more of a threat against Dwight Howard and Joakim Noah. Those are the two big men of the future in the Eastern Conference, and you can’t place the future of the Wizards’ ability to contend on a finally-emerging Brendan Haywood and Mr. Turnover, Andray Blatche. The Wizards would do better trading Caron Butler or Antawn Jamison than young McGee.
And even if you do trade the untradeable big man of the future for Rubio, will he really be able to consistently bring it every night in the NBA?
Sure, he has more talent than Tony Parker, but between the system in which Tony Parker entered the league, and his pairing with Hall of Famer Tim Duncan, it was much more of an anonymous and harmless gamble to mesh Parker with a legitimate championship contender in San Antonio. They were fine without him, and happened to get better because of him.
With Rubio, the Wizards need him to be dynamic. They need him to supplant Gilbert as the primary ball handler and decision maker in a rotation that would require distribution to three capable scorers at different points on the floor. Flip Saunders has primarily found success with a mature, jump shooting point guard. He did it with Sam Cassell, and he did it with Chauncey Billups.
And just because Sam is now an assistant coach with the Wiz, doesn’t mean that it will translate to Rubio as well as we hope it will.
The fifth pick isn’t a good spot to address what the Wizards need, but it certainly isn’t the panic point for the franchise. Grunfeld has a multitude of options, beginning with drafting a shooter in Stephen Curry, and dealing to a team looking to clear cap space. At worse, Gil stays at the point, and you pray for health and prosperity for him, Butler and Jamison.
But there’s no need to mortgage the certain future of the Wizards’ post game for the uncertainty of Rubio running the show.