When a team has lost 110 more games than they have won over the past three seasons, saying there are holes to fill is an understatement. Drafting Kanter with the 6th pick as earlier projected in this mock draft fills the void of a bruising big man with low post scoring moves.
Another major area of need is the three position. Trevor Booker is more of a combo 3/4 man and his jump shot would have to vastly improve in order to play heavy minutes at the three (along with his lateral defensive movement). Nick Young has the ability to play the three, but his more natural position is at the two. It’s easier to ask Nick to defend shooting guards. Rashard Lewis is another three candidate, but his age and faulty knees create doubt whether he can realistically hold up for 82 games ever again. It will be interesting to see if signs point to the Wizards bank-rolling the most expensive reserve in the NBA next season.
The ESPN TrueHoop Network NBA Mock Draft 2011 is going down today. The first five picks are listed below and then it’s the Wizards’ turn, the decision made by a consensual agreement amongst the contributors to Truth About It.net. Keep checking back below the text of this post for updates on the entire first round.
Below, an interview and workout video of draft hopeful Raven Johnson, a wing player out of Mississippi State who has worked out with the Wizards, and then, his story…
Athletes and politicians represent the two foremost groups that must be weary of the ills of Twitter. Maybe politicians have more to lose in terms of social standing, but the millions Gilbert Arenas ultimately lost due to his 50-game suspension in 2010 by David Stern is nothing to scoff at. It may have been Finger Gunz in Philly which made the final decision possible, but Arenas’ Twitter escapades surrounding his gun incident helped make a strong case for Stern.
In the furor of 24-hour news cycle overreaction to initial misreporting of the December 2009 situation between Arenas and Javaris Crittenton, Rev. Al Sharpton implored Stern to punish with a heavy hand. Before his suspension (which was initially deemed “indefinite”), and before his original @GilbertArenas Twitter account became non-existent, some of Arenas’ last tweets took to criticizing the reverend of inane public profiling. In the present day, however, Arenas continues to get fined by the NBA for tweets deemed inappropriate (for language), which have also been scrutinized because of their misogynistic nature. Future athletes and politicians will surely continue in this out-of-bounds manner on many occasion.
Mississippi State’s Ravern Johnson, a four-year senior who worked out for the Washington Wizards on June 2, also has first-hand knowledge of Twitter’s tribulations on the college level, albeit much more trivial in comparison to Arenas. In early February 2010, one of Johnson’s tweets, seemingly expressing frustration about a tough season, was deemed “inappropriate” by his university. He was also suspended indefinitely, at first. Johnson’s tweets were not utterly flagrant (they are quoted below), but seeing as the failed system of college athletics serves more as a money-making venture for institutions than it does to serve the athletes and the sport, it makes total sense that many coaches hold a desperate grasp on their ability to be disciplinarians. Not to say the college landscape isn’t chock full of good stories and genuine benefits, there’s just an obscene imbalance. And not to digress too much into a legit area that’s beside the point, because in this case, the punishment remained just. Being dumb enough to Tweet something likely to be viewed as dumb is no excuse.
One moment you’ll hear that NBA team pre-draft workouts don’t mean much, they can be just one of many contact points a franchise has with a player, much less game film scouting. The next moment it’s considered a “telling sign” when a player doesn’t workout for a certain team. Sign of what? Who knows. Are players disinterested? Trying to rig their draft stock? Are teams disinterested? Throwing others off the scent of their desire? Oh the game that’s played — what do all the conflicting reports mean Enes Kanter?
Both sides can use the perception of workouts to their advantage. And the media to a certain extent as well, I suppose. If you feed the monster pixels, we all whore for hits. Kemba Walker cancels his workout against Jimmer Ferdette for the Sacramento Kings … speculate amongst yourselves, Internets. Other players, less secure in their draft status, are just jumping into another window of opportunity, perhaps building a resume toward overseas interest. These workouts, just as anything, are all part of the process. Whatever that means.
Last Thursday, June 2, the Wizards worked out six players: Talor Battle (Penn State), Mike Davis (Illinois), Papa Dia (SMU), Austin Freeman (Georgetown), Justin Hurtt (Tulsa), and Ravern Johnson (Mississippi State).
Toward the latter third of the hour and a half session, the media is let in to watch, joining the already studying eyes of team executives overlooking the Verizon Center practice court while Flip Saunders and the coaching staff put the players through drills.
A D.C. basketball court picture, some words, a link, some words about links, commentary, NBADRAFTGOOGLESEO, and some more links…
[Alice Deal H.S. - Washington, D.C. - photo: K. Weidie]
At the risk of sounding expected and generic in critiquing a general sports column meant to appeal to the masses that was unexpectedly generic (at least according to what should be expected of the Washington Post), I’ll point out Jason Reid’s column in the Post last Monday about this new and innovative concept in the NBA called “defense” (sometimes spelled with a capital ‘D’), and how the Wizards should, you know, draft for it, with a very long-winded introductory sentence to this bloggy post of links.
I should have known that the NBA Draft Lottery was not going to fall in the Washington Wizards favor when I walked into the media area. Two members of the Cleveland Browns, Joshua Cribbs and Joe Haden, who are from Washington, D.C. and Fort Washington, MD respectively, were sitting at a table with former Cleveland Browns quarterback Bernie Kosar. Maybe under different circumstances Cribbs and Haden would have donned the new colors of the Washington Wizards, but on this evening, their roles were to be good luck charms for Dan Gilbert. They were ensconced in Cleveland Cavaliers gear – the former pseudo-rival of Washington which also happened to be the team that eliminated the Wizards the last time they were fortunate enough to make the playoffs
Two hours later, Dan Gilbert, his charismatic son Nick, Kosar, Cribbs and Haden were posing for pictures in front of the ESPN camera, and celebrating the fact that the Cavaliers had won the first pick of the 2011 draft. The Wizards, who were represented by last year’s number one selection John Wall, were left with the sixth pick, despite having the fourth-worst record in the NBA.
Despite the disappointing draft position, there were still some positives for the Washington Wizards franchise. As I wrote for the DCist, in just a short period of time Wall displayed the type of confidence and leadership that the Wizards braintrust probably expected when they drafted him first just one year ago. He worked the room, he joked around with his fellow 2010 draft classmate Greg Monroe, as well as Kyrie Irving, who figures to the first pick of the 2011 draft class. He was equally comfortable in between Toronto Raptors President Bryan Colangelo and Mayor of Sacramento Kevin Johnson; Wall even mentioned that he asked Mayor Johnson about his role in keeping the Kings in Sacramento.
Here is Wall speaking confidently on his summer plans, his opinion of some of the players in the draft and his expectations for his fellow teammates among other things:
In the seeming eyes of fans, media, Internet trolls and bar room sports pundits, Ernie Grunfeld should lie awake in his bed at night, restless over what to do with the sixth pick in the 2011 NBA Draft. The Wizards slipped two whole spots from where they finished the season to achieve No. 6 on Tuesday night, and the team president of basketball operations better put it to good use.
But it’s not all about this draft and this pick, it’s about the move behind the move which begets two more moves. Grunfeld should be up late into the evening, but not because he’s worried for his job, because he’s doing his homework. Because he and his team are adapting their creativity. Because he must be able to assess players beyond skills and exhaust trust in analysis to the statistical end. Because of course the pressure is still on.
A look across the NBA landscape yields a wide set of diverse circumstances: Aging dynasties, teams close to the next level, teams looking to rebuild, teams wondering where to go, and teams searching for how. Each of these situations must be ready to adapt to what will be a drastically different structure on the other side of the NBA’s pending labor issue.
With hype mounting for the 2011 draft, albeit a deemed weak one, as the last fun act of the league before the current CBA expires on June 30, beads of sweat may develop on Grunfeld’s brow due to the spotlight. But with a relatively secure position to manage the Wizards generally – likely for the next two seasons — it will be all about how Grunfeld can use a post-lockout environment to Washington’s advantage.
The life of a Wizards/Bullets fan has often been predicated on the NBA Draft Lottery. Being a fan of the team since moving to D.C. in 1990, it has generally been ‘the’ highlight of the season… More than the draft itself, more than peddled hope before a season. A simple flip of a card, the bounce of a ping-pong ball and/or the chance of mathematical equation can change the fate of a franchise for years… in just a brief moment. How exciting, right?
In 1992, with the fifth worst record in the NBA, second worst in the Eastern Conference, Washington fans hoped for Shaquille O’Neal, or even Alonzo Mourning. Instead, the Bullets were jumped by the Charlotte Hornets (who chose Mourning with the second pick), and ended up with the sixth pick and Tom Gugliotta.
With the fifth worst record again in 1994, did the Wizards succeed in landing one of three draft prizes in Glenn Robinson, Jason Kidd or Grant Hill? Nope. Fifth is where they stayed… begin memories of the Juwan Howard saga.