If there is one good thing that comes from the Wizards being horrible this season it is the potential to get one of the best players in the 2010 Draft in a couple of months. Four teams are still fighting it out in the playoffs while the select few who couldn’t win to save themselves get to drool over the top prospects a months before they can take their pick of the litter.
The Wizards managed to nab the first overall pick on just a 10-percent chance, credited to the spirit of the late Abe Pollin and his wife Irene donning his ‘78 championship ring for luck. A storybook turn of events to say the least, but now Washington must answer the question on everyone’s mind: John Wall or Evan Turner?
If it comes down to it, I take Evan Turner. He did more at Ohio State with less of a supporting cast than Wall and won the Naismith College Player of the Year award, which Wall was projected to win early in the season. Of course, it is impossible to go wrong with either Turner or Wall.
The Wizards could use a young, dynamic fresh face at point guard in light of the Gilbert Arenas situation. Arenas is still expected to return to the team next season, but and no matter who the Wizards draft, his role will change in some way or another.
With the first pick in this year’s draft, the Wizards have the chance to do two things: 1) Draft the future of the franchise. 2) Put the Kwame Brown incident in the past for good.
With the wealth of talent available in the draft, and the first pick at their disposal, it is unlikely the Wizards will run into any Kwame Brown type situations. Whoever picks DeMarcus Cousins might have that issue, but that is another story for another team.
The Wizards have a real chance to start over. New owner, new star, new mission. The question, again, is who do you take?
As mentioned, Wall and Turner are both headed for success in the NBA, but each fits in with what the Wizards need. Wall is an explosive young point guard in a point guard driven league. And look at the previous two Rookie of the Year winners, both John Calipari produced guards like Wall and both one-and-done players. Drafting Wall would give the Wizards a surefire candidate for Rookie of the Year given the Calipari pedigree.
Wall’s presence would likely shift Arenas back to shooting guard where his scoring talents would be able to flourish without the burden of running the offense to hold him back. He would have to work on becoming a better shooter percentage-wise, but has shown an ability to score from anywhere if given free reign. And given the inconsistency of Nick Young and the expiring contract of Mike Miller, the switch could fill a void the Wizards would otherwise have to fill through free agency.
Of course, drafting Wall does have it’s drawbacks. The various late season signings become less necessary as integral parts and more like depth. Shaun Livingston showed some serious grit late this season, exhibiting an array of skills that hearken back to that which led the Clippers to draft him with the fourth overall pick in 2004. He may be kept around for his high basketball IQ and feel for the game, even after his various injuries.
Turner, however, presents less of an issue for the Wizards roster. Arenas doesn’t have to move to shooting guard, where he hasn’t truly played since coming to Washington, and they don’t have to worry about Young not being the player they want him to be. Mike Miller becomes a decent sixth man option, too. Turner does all the things Miller does well, except he isn’t as prolific a shooter as Miller.
Still, drafting Turner would sort of gloss over the need for a real point guard that doesn’t have the issues Arenas does.
While Arenas only recently became a distraction, he still touts an absurd contract and has yet to show he is 100-percent healthy from his multiple knee surgeries. Perhaps time will tell on the latter, but his cap number is essentially the only reason Grunfeld hasn’t shown him the door like any other competent GM would have done months ago.
I was worried that the Wizards would run into that familiar bad luck that has hung with them over the last five or six years, but with each team being called without hearing the Wizards’ name I felt more confident and downright excited for the possibility of having the first pick. After a rough 2009-2010 season, the Wizards can truly start on the path towards rebuilding as they had started with the roster purge in February.
One can only hope we don’t see some atrocious trade or unexpected draft choice that leaves everyone, fans included, in a lurch.