The Washington Wizards were unlucky with injuries all season. The one shining positive from the debacle of a season, was the chance to get as high as the first pick in the draft. Their luck did not change last night and they received the fifth pick, which was the lowest they could fall.
The big winners last night were as follows.
1. LA Clippers
2. Memphis Grizzlies
3. Oklahoma City Thunder.
They all were beneficiaries of the draft lottery process. We will have to wait two months for confirmation, but I’ll let you in on a little secret. Oklahoma’s Blake Griffin will be heading to the west coast and be the Clippers latest savior. I do guarantee he will be better than Michael Olowokandi. The next two on almost everybody’s draft boards are Spaniard Ricky Rubio and Hasheem Thabeet. Memphis and Oklahoma City will divvy up those two. Sacramento, who was hurt as much as Washington by the lottery will go next. I am not sure what their pick will be , but I can make a determination of what will be available for Washington at pick five.
Other than the one Sacramento chooses, the Wizards pick (barring a trade) should come from this second tier of players.
James Harden SG Arizona St.
Jordan Hill PF Arizona
DeMar DeRozan SG USC
Brandon Jennings PG Europe
Earl Clark SF Louisville
Wayne Ellington SG UNC
Gerald Henderson SG Duke
Stephon Curry PG/SG Davidson
After examining the Wizards roster, I feel that they are most set at the wing (SG/SF) positions. They have Caron Butler, DeShawn Stevenson, Nick Young as fairly young talent at the wing and I believe that Gilbert Arenas is essentially a shooter now, not a floor leader. The positions where I see the most mediocrity and the potential for immediate help are point guard and scoring big man. Therefore I will focus my analysis on the two guys in that second tier that can fit those roles.
LIKELY WIZARDS FIRST ROUND PICK
Jordan Hill 6’10” Jr. PF Arizona 18 ppg and 11 rbs
Hill could step in right away and give a high energy boost to the Wizards front court. Right now they have a lot of slow , plodding big men like Brendan Haywood, Javale McGee, and sometimes Andray Blatche. Hill would be a force on the offensive glass and he exerts high intensity pressure on his defensive assignment. As he gets stronger, he will be able to play the center spot in the NBA; and his midrange jumper will force teams to guard him, opening up the lane.
Brandon Jennings 6’1″ would-be Fr. Roma 8 ppg and 2 assts
As you most know, he skipped college and signed with a European team out of Rome. As a young man in a foreign country there were rough times on his Italian team, especially after a coaching change mid-season. Most observers though, saw the potential of a great NBA point guard. He has exceptional quickness both offensively and defensively, and can get to the rim with an assortment of moves. His defensive skills were on heavy display in the Euro league even when his offense was not flourishing. He may take a year or two to fully develop, but he is the best American point guard in this draft.
What the Wizards do may be based upon how they see themselves going into next season. If they see last year as a fluke and that only injuries kept them from being in the second tier of eastern conference teams behind only Cleveland, Orlando, and Boston; then they will pick Hill. If their thinking is more long term and they draft on the most potential they will go Jennings. Of course this also depends on what Sacramento does.
In the end, at this early stage I see the Wizards pick being: