Future of the Wizards: To Be Determined

There’s T-minus 10 days before the NBA draft, which means there’s roughly 50 or so rumors that will completely fool you in the coming days. Don’t be embarrassed; just note that every team official during this perturbing time is lying to you.

Now that this theory is over with, my focus shifts to a report out of Cleveland:

Kansas forward Thomas Robinson is expected to go second overall to the Bobcats, and while it’s difficult to decipher smokescreens from truth this time of year, the Wizards have made it clear they won’t let Michael Kidd-Gilchrist fall beyond them at No. 3.

Naturally, once this report came to light, backlash ensued. It’s easy to be upset; this may not be the sexy pick Wizards fans desired, and it’s certainly a pick worth questioning, but it’s also important to latch onto what the front office is trying to accomplish. This is by all estimations the off-season that sets this franchise up for the playoffs. The Nene trade facilitated this accelerated process and by securing a top 3 pick in what’s said to be the deepest draft in years, the Wizards are guaranteed to bring in a prospect that will help change the direction of this franchise.

Bradley Beal

The consensus favorite among Wizards fans everywhere, Bradley Beal has put himself in a great position to be drafted in the top 4. Despite his poor shooting numbers in college, he remains the most coveted shooting guard prospect in 2012. His offensive repertoire has been well documented; he can score in a plethora of ways, and is improving as a playmaker. He’s also gone on record stating that he’d like to play some point guard at the NBA level, which is an added bonus. While he’s not quite the combo guard James Harden is, his ball skills are still severely underrated, and his frame allows him to absorb contact as he attacks the basket. His pick and roll skills are a work in progress however, the openness of the NBA game will depreciate that concern moving forward.

Of all the inadequacies of this team, the most concerning is a starting shooting guard that can actually shoot the ball at an efficient clip. It’s no secret either. The Wizards finished 28th in three point percentage for the second straight year. They were 21st this year in overall field goal percentage, which is a few steps up from their 25th place finish the year before. At this rate, “The Great Wall of Assists” banner you see at the Verizon Center will have to be replaced with “The Great Wall of Missed Assists,” brought to you by Mike Prada at Bullets Forever.

Randy Wittman loves running the offense through the post, and with two legitimate threats on the block sharing minutes at the center position, we should see Wittman continuing this trend. Spot up shooting becomes the staple of this offense with a post presence and a lightning quick slasher in John Wall. Enter: Bradley Beal. With this selection, you should see a more balanced offense to keep the opponents guessing. This makes a tremendous difference in game planning, and we all see how important spot up shooting is for teams like the Thunder and Heat.

Thomas Robinson

Thomas Robinson came out the biggest winner of the NBA Draft Combine, sporting a chiseled 6-foot-9 and 244 lb. frame, with an enormous 7-foot-3 wingspan and a 35.5 inch vertical. He put every doubt people had about his size to rest, and did so in stunning fashion. Not that size is the be-all-end-all for draft prospects; it helped ease concerns about going up against lengthier opponents. One could make a strong case for Thomas Robinson as the second best player in the draft; and he very well could be the most NBA ready. He is your prototypical power forward — he establishes position in the paint without much trouble, has great footwork, and uses great instincts in snagging down rebounds. Don’t get me wrong though, he’s not a throwback player by any means. His face up game could be elite once he hits the mid-range jumper with consistency. Defenses tended to sag off on him in college, but it would make it much tougher to stop him if his jumper starts to fall. His athleticism and exception ball handling skills allow him to blow by opponents, and he’s a good finisher at the rim.

The front office cannot undervalue rebounding, especially if they continue to emphasize the importance of getting out on the fast break. It’s important to note that the projected center for the Wizards, Nene, has never been an elite rebounder at his position. Thomas Robinson would immediately step in and be a force on both ends of the court, with Wall leaking out for fast breaks, the Wizards would be able to get more easy buckets to mitigate their struggling half court offense.

Robinson would be the fourth hardnosed big man Ernie Grunfeld would have drafted since Ted Leonsis took over nearly 3 years ago. Clearly the front office had intentions of building this team from the inside-out, and it would make for a tough front court rotation featuring a wide variety of talent.

Michael Kidd Gilchrist

We all know my stance on MKG — he’s not a shooter, we have plenty of high energy guys, etc, so I won’t bother backtracking any of those statements. However, he’s a plus rebounder, moves without the ball, and would make the defense an absolute terror on opposing teams if players live up to the hype. He’s also the youngest player in the draft, and has plenty of room to grow. I dare anyone to look up John Calipari’s lineage of NBA players; he undoubtedly knows how to prepare his players for the draft. It’s important for players without a consistent jumper to find other ways of scoring the ball, and Kidd-Gilchrist does exactly that. He knows how to create space off the dribble; he utilizes screens well and uses his strength to get to the hoop.

Gauging MKG’s fit on this Wizards roster is a difficult one in the grand scheme of things because one would expect a shooter rather than a slasher like John Wall. The front office surely has a plan that involves bringing in multiple shooters via the draft and free agency to help spread the floor for Wall and MKG, but it becomes even more imperative that one of those two develops a consistent jumper in the next few years.

By bringing in MKG, the plan would be to run and run often. You would be hard pressed to find a weakness in the Wizards defense, and if either Wall or MKG hones their offensive repertoire, the Eastern Conference playoff picture would look a lot more interesting.

We all need to take a step back and be grateful of this third pick. We are getting a top tier prospect that will come in and immediately contribute. The Leonsis regime has done a great job scouting prospects, so there really is no reason to worry.

Tags: Bradley Beal Michael Kidd Gilchrist Thomas Robinson

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