I enjoy reading the various mock drafts in the weeks leading up to the NBA Draft. For Wizards fans they provide high level, wide-ranging analysis, highlights, interviews, statistics and more on a net group of players that could end up playing their next games at the Verizon Center in 2015-16.
Regardless of who Adam Silver calls up on stage at # 19 or earlier barring an unforeseen trade from Emperor Ernie, the players and those selected before them have been interviewed, measured, analyzed, tested and compared to each other by every NBA expert and team fan base.
If you follow the message boards or the wonderfulness that is #WizardsTwitter you’ll see that everyone has an opinion on these young men and their potential fit with the core of Wall, Beal, Otto and Marcin. What you won’t find is a lot of talk around the other key factors that will determine 4 years from now whether the 19th pick in the 2015 NBA Draft was a ‘great find’ or a ‘remember that guy’ answer on a sports trivia show 10 years from now on ESPN the Ocho.
History tells us that it’s possible to knock one out of the park as easily as it is to bomb on a pick at this point in the draft but every draft class is different. As I see it Washington has the opportunity after many years of having no option but to draft a position of need to be in the position of being able to potentially select the best player available as Grunfeld so eloquently told the media yesterday. Take a look at this list and tell me it’s not a mixed back.
|Year||Player||Drafted From||Drafted By|
|2012||Andrew Nicholson||St. Bonaventure||Orlando|
|2009||Jeff Teague||Wake Forest||Atlanta|
|2008||J.J. Hickson||NC State||Cleveland|
|2007||Javaris Crittenton||Georgia Tech||L.A. Lakers|
|2005||Hakim Warrick||Syracuse Sr.||Memphis|
|2004||Dorell Wright||CA HSSr.||Miami|
|2003||Aleksandar Pavlovic||Serbia 1983||Utah|
|2002||Ryan Humphrey||Notre Dame Sr.||Utah|
|2001||Jason Collins||Stanford So.||Houston|
|2000||Jamaal Magloire||Kentucky Sr.||NO Hornets|
|1998||Pat Garrity||Notre Dame||Milwaukee|
|1996||Walter McCarty||Kentucky||New York|
|1995||Randolph Childress||Wake Forest||Detroit|
|1994||Tony Dumas||Missouri-Kansas City||Dallas|
|1988||Rod Strickland||DePaul||New York|
|1987||Ken Norman||Illinois||LA Clippers|
|1984||Bernard Thompson||Fresno State||Portland|
|1983||John Paxson||Notre Dame||San Antonio|
|1981||Mike McGee||Michigan||LA Lakers|
The Wizards could make the case for a solid guard to spell Wall or play alongside Beal like Jerian Grant or Tyus Jones. If you think Washington needs a little scoring on the edge then perhaps the names Dekker, Anderson, Booker, Hunter or Oubre wet your whistle. I’m in the collective group who is hoping for one of the guys considered to be dictionary-esque “stretch-4s” so the Wizards can keep playing the way we saw them play in the playoffs with a healthy John Wall.
I know, I know, you’re probably saying it’s the 19th pick, what expectations could you possibly have for someone drafted that low?
The reality is I expect a lot and so should you but not just out of the player. Every analyst, every write-up expresses the good and the bad of the individual players. But the impact of this player will not only be the result of their own desire to be great but as a result of his supporting cast, player development and the coaching staff’s ability to use his talents.
The same way people say it takes a village to raise a kid holds true when it comes to players drafted in this portion of the draft.
The good news is they’ll be walking into a newer culture than has been the norm around these parts. It’s a playoff winning team, a good locker room environment, a coaching staff that stresses defense and a team first approach. The Alpha is established and the rest of the team feeds off Wall and his play. Wall’s superstar ability to make those around him better have to make everyone feel better that no matter who gets selected, as long as they have some drive and a good game to support it they should be a contributor and sooner than later.
If you’ve followed me for any period of time you know I have opinions on the game and they aren’t typically of the analytical variety. I tend to be more of a throwback guy and believe the ability to successfully play basketball professionally isn’t just about the size of their hands, their height in shoes, how high they can jump or how many points they scored in college. Sure, every class has different tiers of players whose physical attributes are glaringly different and help separate them from their peers but when you’re in the late lottery to mid to late first round it’s a crapshoot that has much more to do with environment than most give credit for.
The Wizards don’t need to and won’t just put it all on some 19-20-21 year old kid to come in and be the missing piece to an Eastern Conference title run. Think about it for a second. Whoever the Wizards select will be deemed at least by Ted, Ernie, Randy and the front office to be the 19th best available player out of 91 college underclassmen and international players eligible for the NBA Draft. How can you not be somewhat excited for whomever that might be. If you are presenting me with 91 options and I get the 19th best typically I’d be excited about the prospects not trying to pick apart all the flaws.
If we stop thinking about these players like society tends to, especially when it comes to evaluation of sports talent and get away from the desire to get a gourmet meal in a microwave minute, the reality is that any of the names I mentioned above SHOULD be good to above average players at the NBA level.
They all have attributes that would work well with the current squad, even though we know there are going to be some slight changes in the coming weeks and months. Without naming names on the current roster of who they would replace the 19th best player in the country should be able to come in and make a contribution to the rotation whether he is in the top 8, 10 or 12 players on the squad, which I would assume this player will be.
While I’d love to see the Wizards make an outside the box type move, maybe a move up in the draft, or a last minute trade to bring in an established stretch 4, the bottom line is come tomorrow there will be either one or more new faces in DC. The choice as a fan base is to contribute what you can to their potential growth by embracing them, reading through the positives on all of their scouting reports and stop hoping or asking for players who are not here.
Now that Washington has this winning thing back under control I’d like to see the Wizards fanbase take the next step in the process of building a top tier franchise and stop coveting what others have and let other teams drool over the talent on this roster. You know the saying, if they’re talking about you it’s because you matter. When they aren’t it’s because you don’t.
I want to thank all the countless people who put out their mocks and gather all the information they do. I understand the hours, days and weeks it takes to assemble it and while the basketball community may not agree with you or your picks, they do appreciate you.
So without further ado I present to you some of the latest in mock drafts as of 6pm and why I think any of the following players projected to be selected by the Wizards on various mock drafts would be a great addition to the roster.
|Mock Draft Site||Wizards Pick (19)|
|ESPN.com (Chad Ford)||Jerian Grant|
|Basketball Insiders (Alex Kennedy)||Sam Dekker|
|Basketball Insiders (Joel Brigham)||Kelly Oubre|
Basketball Insiders (Moke Hamilton)
|Basketball Insiders (Steve Kyler)||Rondae Hollis-Jefferson|
|CBS (Sam Vecenie)||Jerian Grant|
|CBS (Gary Parrish)||Tyus Jones|
|CBS (Zach Harper)||Montrezl Harrell|
|Player||Year||School||Position||Height||Weight||The Wizards Fit|
|Devin Booker||Fr.||Kentucky||SG||6-6||206||Fully anticipate that Booker will be gone by the time the Wizards draft but if there is a scenario where Washington covets a potential high scoring wing/guard then Booker fits the bill. It’s hard to go against Calipari guys who are slated to go in the first round and Booker is no different. Think he’d be a hell of a fit in the Wizards backcourt and can you imagine the floor spacing with a small ball lineup of Wall, Beal, Booker, Porter and Gortat. Polish Machine could work inside for days.|
|Jerian Grant||Fr.||Notre Dame||PG||6-5||204||I hate when people say “safe pick” but that’s what I keep reading and hearing about one time Bullets draft pick Harvey Grant’s son. I have to say I agree that everything Grant does translates well to the NBA level. He loves to play defense, he protects the basketball, has a hell of a frame for a PG and could spell and play alongside John Wall giving the Wizards more options to keep the scoring going when one of the #HouseOfGuards has to take a breather.|
|Tyus Jones||Fr.||Duke||PG||6-1||190||A little smaller than I’d like to see but makes up for it with phenomenal basketball IQ and the fact that he’s a flat out winner. He’s not going to go out and win games for you by himself but he understands how to run a team and his offensive game while nothing earth shattering did improve. Oh, he also has a national championship trophy in a game where he scored 23pts and the Most Outstanding Player for the game. Oh, he is only 19 years old too.|
|R.J. Hunter||Jr.||Georgia State||SG||6-6||190||If a shooting wing is what you want then R.J. fits the bill. I wouldn’t be shocked if his first gift as a baby was a basketball. Sweet stroke, everyone will remember him from Georgia State’s run in the NCAA tournament and the kid has what Gilbert Arenas used to refer to as swag. Great size for a SG and would be a great addition to bolster a scoring unit off the bench. Again, another option with his height would be to play him at SF for spurts alongside Wall and Beal.|
|Cameron Payne||Soph.||Murray State||PG||6-2||180||I like Payne a lot but not necessarily for the Wizards right now. He’s a hell of a scorer who excels in the pick and roll game, something the Wizards excelled at when they were playing their best basketball but I don’t see him playing at the pace that I think Washington is looking to play at (if they are going to continue what they did in the playoffs.) As every draft outlet has stated, his slight frame is a bit scary but I believe he would be a perfect fit with the Thunder and probably won’t even be around when the Wizards select at 19.|
|Player||Year||School||Position||Height||Weight||The Wizards Fit|
|Bobby Portis||Soph.||Arkansas||PF||6-11||240||The apple of Abdullah Sharif and my eyes. In our opinion the biggest upside from a PF and fit standpoint is the fluid and energetic forward from Arkansas. When watching tape it’s hard to not get excited about his athletic ability, the passion he plays the game with or the fact that he can shoot the rock. Stretch-4 definition in the dictionary has a picture of this guy’s face next to it. I think he’s long off the board by 19 but could be an interesting trade up option for Ernie and the front office.|
|Trey Lyles||Fr.||Kentucky||PF||6-10||235||On a team like Kentucky had last year it’s hard to stick out, especially when you got guys like Karl Anthony Towns and WCS playing ahead of you. There is no questioning the talent level of Lyles though and again, did I mention that you can’t go wrong with one-and-done players from Calipari’s program. I’m one of those crazy fans who believes any Kentucky guy you put alongside John Wall will perform brilliantly. Lyles is no different to me.|
|Kevin Looney||Fr.||UCLA||PF||6-9||220||The second apple of my eye is Looney. I love his raw ability, think he has perfect size for the position, an ever expanding game that will free up space in the middle for Marcin Gortat – something he preached about during exit interviews. I am like most though scared by his boom or bust label. I think the talent is obviously worth the risk but to the point of my post above without the right player development you could lose a guy like Looney. Being 19 years old I just don’t believe you could bring him along the same way they did Otto and get the results that people are saying could be his peak potential.|
|Montrezl Harrell||Jr.||Louisville||PF||6-8||240||I’ll start by saying I love the way Montrezl plays the game. He will not be the Jeopardy answer for What is a Stretch-4 but if you are looking for someone to match the intensity which John Wall plays with then look no further. Phenomenal athlete with long arms which I believe help make up for what is a perceived lack of height.|
2nd Round Sleeper I want in DC
|Player||Year||School||Position||Height||Weight||The Wizards Fit|
|Dez Wells||Sr.||Maryland||SG||6-4||210||Mark my words and if I’m not mistaken Cakes from the Junkies agrees completely with me but Wells will be on an NBA roster and will contribute to a team if given the chance. There are certain intangibles that you cannot teach and Wells has them. I love that he has history with John Wall who could continue to act as more than just a teammate for him, he would continue his basketball career in an area his familiar with and the fans would embrace the hell out of him. You know we love our local guys. For more on this please see…Juan Dixon, Steve Blake, etc…|