By Dave Johnson
Wearing the same tie he wore when he was selected by the Washington Wizards with the third overall pick in the 2012 NBA Draft, Bradley Beal represented the team at the 2013 NBA Draft Lottery. As he did so often in his rookie season, Beal came through in the clutch.
Whether it was the tie or Beal himself, the Wizards moved up in the lottery from the slotted eighth position to the third pick. The Wizards had only a little under a five percent chance of moving up into the same position they held last year when they turned the pick into Beal. Now the options are greater and decisions will have to be made.
It’s the beauty of the internet. We can all google mock drafts and try to come up with a consensus opinion. Local fans will be delighted to know that Georgetown’s Otto Porter Jr. is being bandied about on various web sites. Several mock drafts have Cleveland selecting Kentucky center Nerlens Noel with the top pick overall and Orlando going for point guard Trey Burke from Michigan.
Despite my position with the club, I have no inside information on what the Wizards are thinking. I do believe Wizards President Ernie Grunfeld when he says the team will take the best players available regardless of position. I have been in the “war room” on draft nights and it is true the Wizards, like most NBA teams, work off a board that ranks players in order of ability and not position.
The Wizards can point to Beal and John Wall as success stories from recent drafts .The possibility of Porter becoming Wizards is intriguing. The Wizards have become a better defensive team and Porter would be a good fit. He can guard multiple positions, is strong on the boards, and plays with the energy necessary to defend in the NBA.
On Comcast SportsNet, Gary Williams suggested in his mock draft that the Wizards might decide to go “big” and select Maryland’s Alex Len. There has been discussion of Len’s draft stock falling because of ankle surgery, but talent and over seven-feet tall is a tantalizing combination.
With his youth and injury, Len would be more of a project. Still the Wizards are in different phase now and don’t necessarily need a draft pick to come in and have an immediate impact. That is not to say the Wizards are finished product, but with Emeka Okafor, Nene, and Kevin Seraphin they have a corps of big men playing now.
Moving up to the third spot in the NBA Draft has not only opened up the window of selection possibilities, but given the Wizards more bargaining power for a potential trade. The Wizards believe when healthy they can compete for a playoff spot. The third pick might help the Wizards land another established veteran.
Because of Tuesday’s Draft Lottery developments, the Wizards front office has more to consider. It’s a nice problem to have.