[Editor's Note: This is J.D. Jackson's first post for Truth About It.net. J.D. is 29 and lives in Baltimore. He's previously written for Most Valuable Network and All-Baseball.co
When draft day rolls around in about a week, the Wizards aren’t expected to make any crazy moves at the No. 3 pick. It will likely be a choice between Bradley Beal and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist (possibly depending on what those crazy, crazy Bobcats decide to do).
It’s almost a denouement to the day. Having a new, highly-touted player will be exciting, for certain. But like last year when everything on the planet pointed to the Wizards taking Jan Vesely, there’s just not going to be much surprise with the Wizards on the clock. Not that it’s a bad thing, necessarily, but at least there was some intrigue with their second selection at No. 18. It ended up being Chris Singleton, but there were about 50 different directions that the team could’ve gone, and it was a riveting few minutes on the clock.
So, if you’re a Wizards fan and you’re looking for that little bit of drama, where will you get it? The Wizards own two second round picks (32 and 46 from Dallas) in what is expected to be a pretty deep draft. Last year’s draft class was, by most accounts, a significantly leaner class. And yet, between the countless trades that happened at the back end of draft day, what was lost is just how much of an impact the players taken in the second round had for their respective teams last season. Of the 30 players taken in the 2011 NBA Draft’s second round, only eight did not log any minutes last season. That number was 12 in 2010. In fact, in the lockout-shortened season, 2011 second rounders played a total of 10,048 minutes. In 2010, second rounders in their rookie seasons played a total of 4,681 minutes — 2,541 of those minutes were logged by Landry Fields. You’d expect the lack of training camps after the lockout to hurt rookies the most, but it seemed to have the opposite effect. Most of the second rounders who didn’t log minutes from the 2011 class were stashed overseas as well, leaving only Jon Diebler (Trailblazers, No. 51; signed to play in Greece last August) and Chukwudiebere Maduabum (Lakers, No. 56; drafted from the D-League and traded to Denver) as the players who inexcusably failed to show up. Kyle Singler (Pistons, No. 33), the third non-Euro to not log any minutes last season, actually wound up overseas himself. He split time between CB Lucentum Alicante and Real Madrid and may be headed to Detroit soon.
There were some pretty significant hits as well. Isaiah Thomas, last year’s Mr. Irrelevant (Kings, No. 60), is being talked about as the point guard of the future in Sacramento, possibly making Tyreke Evans available. Thomas averaged 11.5 PPG and 4.1 APG in almost 26 minutes last year and was a second-team All-Rookie selection. Andrew Goudelock (Lakers, No. 46) played huge minutes for the Lakers down the stretch. Chandler Parsons (Rockets, No. 38) was an important piece for Houston, starting 57 games and averaging 9.5 PPG. He, too, was a second-team All-Rookie selection, and the Rockets thought enough of Parsons to have him as their representative at the 2012 Draft Lottery (Although, Parsons wasn’t much luck; Houston had the longest odds to win and will be selecting 14th). And Lavoy Allen (Sixers, No. 50) turned his 4.1 PPG in the regular season into 6.3 PPG during the post season for the surprising Sixers. There’s talent to be found in the second round, and the Wiz have opportunity to find an impact player in this deep draft.
But will they? That’s the question that seems to linger with teams choosing in the second round. Of the 30 selections in the second round last year, only 10 didn’t change hands at some point – it was 11 in 2010, and seven in 2009. Teams, as a rule, don’t stay put in that round. They often move those picks during the season, but they also typically sell them before the draft for cash considerations (money that a team can use to offset the luxury tax), or to move up in the first round, or to select a guy and stash overseas for a few years. Those options are all on the table for the Wizards.
By selling their pick, if last year is any indication, the team could earn around $4 million for the 32nd pick (the Bobcats sold last year’s 39th overall pick to Golden State for $3 million), and around $700,000 for the 46th selection (what the Hornets got from the Knicks for Josh Harrellson at No. 45). Would Leonsis and Grunfeld consider it? The Wizards aren’t really anywhere close to being a luxury tax team, so the odds of them flat-out selling the pick, I would imagine, are fairly low (although they might want to offset an amnesty or a buyout). They could package the two picks and move into the first round, or even trade them off for future second rounders if they can’t find a player in their spot that they love. There really haven’t been many players tied to the Wizards towards the back end of the first round. I’m not so certain that they have someone they’re in love with, but they have options.
“There’s talent to be found in the second round, and the Wiz have opportunity to find an impact player in this deep draft.”
So let’s assume that, at the very least, Washington decides to stick with pick No. 32. The Wizards desperately need a wing scorer, which we presume they’ll find at the No. 3 pick. Beyond that, they certainly need more depth at center, shooting guard, and small forward. And hey, if they could find someone to make Andray Blatche expendable, I’m sure they wouldn’t complain about that either. Kyle O’Quinn from Norfolk State would likely be there at 32. He’s 6-foot-10, 241 pounds, can play center or power forward, and is starting to rise up draft boards. He’s got strength and athleticism, rebounds well, and has a fairly advanced offensive game for a center playing in a non-power conference. His motor isn’t always there, and he needs to learn the game a bit more, but that’s where coaching comes in. The tools are there for O’Quinn to make an impact next season.
If the Wizards decide to go for a small forward, they could wind up with one of Quincy Miller or Jeff Taylor, and both could be significant upgrades over what they already have. Miller, a 6-foot-10, 219 pound small forward from Baylor, has the talent to be a top-10 pick in 2013. He can help at the 3 and at the 4, is an outstanding athlete with great intelligence on the floor, and can score both at the rim and on the perimeter. And he’s an outstanding rebounder, which is another area where the Wizards could use some help – they ranked 24th in Total Rebound Rate last year according to HoopData.com. Miller would need to get stronger, and he needs to stop believing that he’s purely a jump-shooter, but again, we’re talking about coachable fixes. Teams are worried about him because of an ACL injury from this past season, but his medical reports seem encouraging. Meanwhile, Jeff Taylor’s a guy Washington might need to trade up to get, but he could be worth it. A 6-foot-7 forward from Vanderbilt, Taylor has more of the size one expects from a 3. He’s a crazy athlete at the wing, plays defense like it matters, can leap out of a gym, and is long for his height. He’s best when cutting to the basket, and really, you could think of him as a poor-man’s Kidd-Gilchrist. The knocks on Taylor are the same that you hear about MKG: his shooting is suspect, and he doesn’t create his own shot. Oklahoma City is going to take a good, long look at Taylor with their 27th overall pick. If Washington decides to go with Beal at 3, they could further solve the issue of wing scoring by moving up to snatch Taylor.
Of course, the other option that the Wizards could take would be to draft a European player and leave him overseas for a few years. It isn’t a path that Washington has taken often in recent years. They’ve more often sold their picks (2008 with Bill Walker, No. 47, to the Celtics, and 2009 with Jermaine Taylor, No. 32, to the Rockets) than they’ve stashed a player overseas. You have to go back to Oleksiy Pecherov to find the last player that the Wizards stashed (though, he was a first round selection in 2006; Pecherov played with BC Kyiv of the Ukraine league before joining the Wiz in 2007). That same year, the Wizards took Vladimir Veremeenko, a Belarusian who never made it over and plays currently for UNICS Kazan in Russia. Veremeenko is more notable for being part of the deal that acquired Kirk Hinrich, Kevin Seraphin, and a cool $3 million from the Bulls. So in that sense, the selection worked out just fine.
The Wizards actually DO have a player stashed overseas presently, but not one that they drafted. They own the rights to Emir Preldzic (you can read more about him in a piece here), who was a throw-in from Cleveland in the Antawn Jamison trade. He averaged 6.3 PPG and 4.4 RPG during the 2011-2012 Euroleague season. The Wizards’ last foray into Euro-Stashing prior to Preldzic, Veremeenko and Pecherov was Juan Carlos Navarro, drafted 39th overall in 2002. Navarro was a hot “Will he come over?” name, though he ultimately never suited up for the Wizards. He was traded to Memphis for a tightly-protected future first rounder in August 2007. That pick would have been the 2oth overall in 2010, but it wasn’t a pick that the Wizards ever got to make. Washington traded the rights to that pick back to Memphis in December 2008 as part of a three-team deal that netted the Wizards Javaris Crittenton (from the Grizzlies) and Mike James (from the Hornets); the pick wound up turning into Xavier Henry in 2010. Okay, so stashing hasn’t always worked out for the Wizards.
There really won’t be many intriguing options for the Wizards at 32 this year, either. Evan Fournier of France is the consensus top international player, and the 6-foot-7 shooting guard will likely be gone by the time the Wizards choose (he’s been linked heavily to Memphis at No. 25). Fournier is a scorer and penetrator, but lacks range, lateral quickness, and strength. Tomas Satoransky, a 6’8” SG from the Czech Republic, is starting to rise up draft boards a bit (the Wizards have worked Satoransky out), but the 20-year old has significant holes in his game. He doesn’t shoot well, isn’t strong, and has played in a really week league by European standards. He may be an option at 46, but I can’t see the Wizards reaching on him at 32. The same goes for Kostas Papanikolaou, a 6-foot-8 guard from Greece. He’s got a great motor and is a solid shooter, but he lacks range and athleticism. Those two are deal-breakers at the 2 spot.
So, where will the Wizards go, and what should they do? Trade up? Trade for future picks? Sell the pick? Take a player? Take a Euro and stash him? Let us know!
Photo: Flickr/Tambako the Jaguar