The NBA Draft Lottery is happening today, and for better or worse, the Washington Wizards will not be selecting in the first round this summer. With that said, this year’s NBA Draft is considered to be very deep and the Wizards could potentially add another player with their second round pick.
Like many other Wizards fans, I was too focused on Washington’s regular season and run during the playoffs to research the potential draft picks this summer, but luckily for us, draft experts were willing to help us out. Ed Isaacson of NBA Draft Blog answered a few questions for us regarding the Wizards and what they might do in the 2014 NBA Draft, but in order to get even more insight, I contacted The Lottery Mafia crew, who specialize in all things NBA Draft and Wizards. They were kind enough to answer a few questions for us in preparation for the NBA Draft. Enjoy.
The Wizards relinquished an early first round pick to the Phoenix Suns in a trade for Marcin Gortat. Like many other Wizards fans, I sort of panicked, since this seemed like a typical Ernie Grunfeld move that would result in nothing more than some short-term success for Washington and a bunch of “what if they didn’t trade that pick” scenarios. What sort of value will that 18th overall pick have in this year’s draft?
The overall success of that trade largely depends on if Marcin Gortat re-signs, and at the minute it appears Washington’s strong playoff run have had a positive effect on Gortat and as he is saying all the right things about his impending free agency.
In terms of what would be available at no. 18, there would be a lot of wing scoring. Duke University’s sharp shooting Rodney Hood, NC State’s scoring powerhouse TJ Warren, hyper athletic combo guard Zach Lavine should all go around the mid-first round area. There could perhaps be three intriguing European big men available–Jusuf Nurkic, a 6ft 11 280lb centre has a power game that looks to translate to the NBA along with a smooth shooting touch (80% from the FT line and 34% from three). The big question for Nurkic is his lack of athletic ability and relatively poor body language on the court. The other two international centres who may be available are Swizz power forward Clint Capella and Latvian centre Kristaps Porzingis, both are long athletic big men with the ability to block shots, Porzingis also has great touch around the basket and a solid three point shot which could make him an intriguing project.
The wing scoring which the Wizards will be missing out on won’t be anything they can’t find elsewhere, but the three European big men all have potential to be every bit as effective as Gortat eventually. The Wizards are really trying to push through now with their core, so all three of those guys available are unlikely to be consistent and reliable in the NBA for a number of years, and of the three I see only Nurkic being able to contribute large minutes from Day 1 of the NBA season, and even then I think he would struggle to defend without fouling.
For the stage Washington are in right now, I think fans can sleep at night happy with the trade that Grunfeld made, I think there comes a point where you do have to ride a veteran with limited upside, and you can’t just always have a shiny new toy every year.
Washington currently has the 46th overall pick in the 2014 NBA Draft. As you probably already know, Washington has whiffed on countless second round picks in the past, but this year’s draft seems to be considered deep with talent. What are the chances they land a valuable player that late in the draft like Michigan’s Mitch McGary?
To answer the McGary question–No, not in my opinion, I see him going late 1st/early 2nd, I see there being zero chance he gets past the Pistons at no. 38 and the Nuggets at no. 41
However, I do think the chances are fairly high of getting a valuable player at no. 46, as I am really high on the second round this year and see those picks having a much greater value compared to previous years. I know a lot of people go by the popular mock drafts when looking for who might be available at their pick, but I disagree with some of the prospects they currently have pegged for the mid second round. In particular, I believe that the three players Draft Express currently has ranked no. 45 CJ Wilcox, no. 46 Jordan Clarkson, no .47 DeAndre Daneils will all go late 1st/early second and won’t be available.
What I do think will be available around the no. 46 pick is a lot of bench scoring and some good defensive wings, unfortunately there is a distinct lack of quality big men. I personally feel Jabari Brown and Nick Johnson will both be good value in that range, however, with last year’s second round pick Glen Rice Jr. still on the roster, it looks unlikely the Wizards would invest another pick into a player at the same position, especially as both of those players have less upside. There is a possibility that both Brown and Johnson could play some point at the next level, both played as shooting guards in college, but due to their vertically challenged (around 6ft 3) nature could be forced to make the transition to the point. However, both have a long way to go to become a point guard in the NBA, they need to improve their facilitating and change their scoring mentality.
With Trevor Ariza likely moving on at the end of this year and Otto Porter underwhelming rookie season could lead the Wizards to look for another serviceable wing. French small forward Damein Inglis would be a great pick up for the Wizards and he might just slip far enough into their grasp. Inglis took part in the Nike Hoop Summit this year, and despite not having a great showing, he impressed scouts with his athletic ability and defensive potential. Inglis projects to be the youngest player in the draft behind Aaron Gordon and Noah Vonleh, add his impressive physical profile, standing 6ft 9inc and an outstanding 7ft 3inc wingspan there is a lot to like, not to mention weighing in at 240 pounds with huge hands. Inglis skill level is still a long way behind, but he did shoot 38% from three this year (1 attempt per game) which gives scouts hope he can develop a better offensive game.
Cleanthony Early is another wing he may eb available, many sites have him pegged as an early 1st/late 2nd rounder but I am not all that high on him. Early had a strong NCAA tournament showing against Cal Poly & Kentucky, until then he was pegged as a second rounder, or maybe even to go undrafted, the fact he has climbed into the 1st round from two good games worries me. But at #46, he is worth a look. Early has a solid all round game, he won’t wow you with his athleticism but he has fairly high basketball IQ, thanks partially to him being a 23 year old senior. If Early was there he would be a versatile second unit wing who could contribute right away, he would be a good floor spacer and use his length to make up for his lack of athleticism on the defensive end.
And finally, Otto Porter… He’s been waving towels on the bench ever since he put on a Wizards uniform, and honestly, it didn’t look too good for him at the beginning of the season. He got some momentum late in the year, showing some flashes of why Washington picked him 3rd overall in 2013, but his future with the team is still somewhat uncertain. Give us your take on Porter–prior to the draft and the little we’ve seen from him during the regular season.
Porter was never going to wow anyone with his game, he isn’t going to catch fire from beyong the arc, he isn’t going to dunk on anyone, he has more of an old man’s game. I think the major thing Otto needs is just time on the floor and, if you asked him right now “what is your role on this team” then he would say “I don’t know”. He hasn’t really played enough to find out what he is effective at, he hasn’t had the chance to find out what he can/can’t do on the NBA floor. For starters, I would let him play his natural position of small forward at Summer League, not force him to be a shooting guard. I would also look for him to get inside more,and I don’t think he is going to make a living take long two pointers which is what I always seemed to find when he played at Summer League last year or during the season.
Overall, I feel Porter just needs times to adjust to life in the NBA, he is a very humble kid, from a small town in Sikeston, Missouri. The whole NBA experience may have been a bit much for him, the hip injury obviously didn’t help the situation and really sapped his confidence. Once Porter is able to get on the court more, express himself and get out of his own head I am sure you are going to see a much better player. Saying that, he may never live up to his number three pick, and the 2013 draft was very weak and in most drafts he would have been a late lottery selection.
I also want to thank Ed Isaacson for contributing as well.