Who Will Washington Take With #3 Pick?
The Washington Wizards need a little bit of everything in this draft. Teams that finish the year with the second-worst record in the league tend to have that particular problem, but thankfully this team has quite a few options available to immediately improve itself with the third pick in the June 28th draft, even if none of those guys will be Anthony Davis.
Basically, the Wizards have two roster spots locked up: point guard and center. John Wall is still the player that Washington wants as the face of their franchise, and he’s good enough to eventually find his way to stardom, assuming he ever gets a cast of teammates and a coaching staff to help him with that. They’ve also got a center in former Denver Nuggets big man Nene, who is under contract at $13 million per season through the end of 2016.
Outside of that, there’s no position that couldn’t use some depth. Jordan Crawford has shown promise, averaging almost 15 points a game in only 27 minutes per contest his sophomore season, but the other young guns on this roster—Andray Blatche, Trevor Booker, Kevin Seraphin, James Singleton, Chris Singleton and Jan Vesely—have left a lot to be desired. Put as simply as possible, the Wizards could use a little more star quality on this roster, particularly at both forward positions and shooting guard.
Luckily, there is a lot of star power at the top end of this draft, and somehow, someway the Wizards are going to end up with some of it. Here’s a look at their top options with the third overall pick in the draft:
Thomas Robinson, PF, Kansas – The best-case scenario for Washington is to have Charlotte either pass on Robinson or trade the pick to another team looking to draft someone other than him. Robinson’s value to a franchise was discussed in depth in the most recent NBA Sunday, but in short he’s pretty much the best bet a lottery team has at finding a future superstar outside of the #1 overall pick. He’s big and strong, he’s athletic and coachable, he’s a monster on both ends of the floor and he’s still nowhere near as good as he’s going to be.
He’s not necessarily a “perfect” complement to John Wall, but no point guard has ever complained about playing alongside a hungry rebounder with a terrific post game. Robinson is pretty clearly the second-best player in this draft, but that means it’ll take a small miracle for him to still be around when it’s Washington’s turn to pick third.
Pretty much every mock in the world right now has Robinson going #2 to Charlotte, but that’s anything but a foregone conclusion at this point. The Bobcats are reportedly interested in trading out of their pick, or could even be more interested in players like Andre Drummond or Michael Kidd-Gilchrist. It would be silly of Charlotte to pass on Robinson, but since when do we trust them to make the smart draft pick? Remember Adam Morrison? Sean May? Brandan Wright?
If the Bobcats move out of the pick or take someone else, Robinson makes a ton of sense as a Wizard. He and Wall, along with Crawford and Nene, could form a respectable line-up. The basketball gods would have to really smile down on D.C. for this scenario to happen, though.
Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, SF, Kentucky – If Robinson does get snatched up at #2, expect the Wizards to take Kidd-Gilchrist with their selection. There’s a lot to love about this young man, not the least of which is that at 18 years old, he’s already built like an NBA player. That allowed him to defend a number of different positions at the college level, and that is where he should continue to shine as a pro.
As a Wizard, however, he’d be expected to get out and run with Wall, and that’s a combination that could be daunting for years and years in our nation’s capital. Few players in the entire NCAA were as good in transition as MKG, and he loves to take his offensive game to the cup. The easier his buckets, the more effective he’s going to be on that end of the floor.
The knock on Kidd-Gilchrist, however, is that he’s not an alpha dog. That’s something we saw a lot of when he played for Kentucky, often deferring to the more offensively gifted players on the floor. On the one hand, we could look at that as a potential strength—that he’s got more to offer offensively but was simply held back as a casualty of too much talent in Lexington. Or, he really is just going to be better as a second fiddle, which is what could make Washington a great fit for him.
Bradley Beal, SG, Florida – It will be surprising if the Wizards don’t end up with either Robinson or Kidd-Gilchrist by the time they’ve made their selection later this month, but if any player was going to defy that probability, it’d be Florida shooting guard Brad Beal.
He’s been compared to Eric Gordon so often that he’s starting to look like the guy, and that’s a good thing if we’re talking about the offensive side of the basketball. This kid is the top shooting guard prospect in the class for a reason, and that reason has everything to do with his deep three-point range and ability to score the ball in bunches.
Despite all that, his problems are manifold; not only is Beal undersized for an NBA two-guard at 6’4, but he’s also pretty poor on the defensive end and was somewhat inconsistent in college. Plus, his early workouts reportedly haven’t gone all that well, with Beal looking a little stiff and a little slow.
Considering the Wizards already have a reasonable scoring guard in Jordan Crawford and much bigger holes in other areas, Beal doesn’t seem like the smartest pick. He is, however, very high on a lot of teams’ draft boards, and with a good string of workouts he could potentially upset the order of things in the top three. Don’t count him out, even if he’s not necessarily the obvious pick at this point in the process.
Harrison Barnes, SF, North Carolina – Now we’re starting to wander into unlikely territory, because Harrison Barnes probably isn’t going to be selected in the top three. However Barnes has found a way to suck smart basketball into his hype machine his entire adult life, and we shouldn’t expect that to change at a time when player hype is more important than ever.
Washington has some small forwards that can play, but they could still use an upgrade and in some ways we could consider Barnes precisely that. No one has ever questioned his offensive talents, and his extensive college experience means he’ll probably be better-adjusted to the NBA game than some of his younger counterparts. In fact, because the hype around Barnes has been so huge since he was a very young teenager, one could argue that he’s been groomed for the NBA for almost a decade now. He can shoot, he can score and he played his college ball for one of the most historic programs in college hoops.
Despite all that, he’s not as athletic as you’d expect, and you could probably consider him over-confident offensively at times, as we saw in the NCAA tournament. He hasn’t historically shown up in big games, either, which has made some question whether he’s really got superstar blood in his veins.
Kidd-Gilchrist is better, but if he’s gone at two and the Wizards really want a small forward, Barnes would be the obvious choice. If Washington picked Barnes over Robinson in that scenario, however, it would be a mistake they likely never live down.
There are other talented players that Washington will likely bring in for workouts, including Ohio State’s Jared Sullinger and UConn’s Andre Drummond, among others. Those players just aren’t quite the same caliber as the other young men available to them in the top three, so it’s unlikely either Sullinger or Drummond gets serious consideration there.
When it’s all said and done, expect either Thomas Robinson or Michael Kidd-Gilchrist to be the named called at number three. It doesn’t seem likely that Washington will trade their pick, and they really shouldn’t considering either guy could help their team going forward.
2011-12 was a dismal season for the Wizards, but the right pick could help them get back on the right track. Added to Wall and Nene, a good rookie could put them on a one-way train back toward respectability.