A lot of times, people say that things come in threes. The Washington Wizards should hope that they make the right choice with pick number three in this years NBA draft.
The draft lottery took place yesterday at 8 p.m EST. Many Wizards fans I knew felt that the team had a really good chance of winning the number one pick this year. Things started off rough for the Wizards this year–more specifically they started off 2-15 with Flip Saunders still at the head of the team. John Wall struggled for huge stretches and chunks at a time, they had to endure the lack of basketball I.Q between two “centerpieces” of the organization in Nick Young and Javale McGee, and the rookies drafted in the previous year weren’t panning out as advertised.
Through all of that, the Wizards finished the season 20-46 with the second best chance of winning the lottery. Ernie Grunfeld managed to work his way into an extension by shipping out the combatant personalities of Young and McGee and bringing in a great locker room presence in NeNe to add on to that. They also finished the season on a six game winning streak–obviously not tanking games like various other teams in the lottery (That includes you New Orleans).
When the Wizards hit the top three, I was elated. This doesn’t put them in an awkward position at all. There will surely be a good player left for them to take at this point as long as they do their research and don’t reach for someone. The third pick in the draft is one of the best ones that they could have landed. The first two would have been preferable, but they can still get good value out of this pick.
The Wizards top needs are at the two gaurd, the center position, and the small forward position. They could use a back-up point guard to push Shelvin Mack but that can wait until the later round or free agency. The two points of interest are the center position and the shooting guard position.
There are a plethora of shooting guards that have lottery potential and talent in this years draft. Bradley Beal is considered a top three pick by multiple draft experts. Jeremy Lamb and Dion Waiters are considered top ten talents as well, but many people don’t consider them top three talents. Though all of these guards are excellent scorers, I don’t see any of them as being worthy of the number three pick.
Beal is more of a specialist to me than anything. He can shoot the ball well and has a very pure stroke. Though his three point percentage doesn’t indicate that–shooting about 33% from beyond the arch last year–I don’t think that should be too much of a red flag. What I worry about more is his ability to create off of the dribble and defend. While he isn’t the worst creator, if a play breaks down with the ball in his hands I wouldn’t rely too much on him at that point. Beal is an average on ball defender at best. He does come with a stocky build measuring in at 6’4 and a solid 196 pounds, but he’s only toting a 6’7 wingspan. I don’t think he’ll be better than average, at best, at defending.
Lamb is a guy who can outright score the ball. He’s a better handler of the ball than Beal when the clock is winding down, but I don’t think he’s as reliable of a shooter. Rather than being a specialist, he’s a scorer. He’s long and lanky measuring in at 6’5 and 185 pounds with a 7’4 wingspan as well. His on ball defense is on the same level as Beal’s right now, but I think he brings more to the table in terms of what kind of defender he can be with that wingspan. He’s also a more athletic specimen than Beal is. While shooting is a need that is increasing in the NBA with all of the penetrating guard there are, I think that Lamb would bring more to the table than just shooting.
Waiters is a short, stocky two guard who is a very adept ball handler and passer. He can run the point guard position as well. He measures in at 6’3 and weighs a solid 201 pounds with a 6’6 wingspan as well. While he isn’t a three point specialist and isn’t a good on ball defender, Waiters is very versatile in what he can do. Many people compare him to the college version of Dwyane Wade with the way he can score the ball and pass the ball. Waiters will likely be a lottery pick but not in the top three.
I think that both centers–Andre Drummond and Anthony Davis–will be taken with the first two picks. That leaves the Wizards with the field. I think that the best pick here would be Michael Kidd-Gilchrist from out of Kentucky.
He’s easily the most talented player left in the draft at that point and in the NBA you don’t pick for fit you pick for talent and let the pieces fall into place. Weighing in at 228 pounds and standing at 6’7, Kidd-Gilchrist is a boy in a man’s body. MKG is also a monster rebounder and does a lot of work in transition, playing into the Wizards strengths very well. He plays hard every single possession on both ends of the floor–you’ll know what you’re getting when you pick him up. Kidd-Gilchrist isn’t a good shooter from beyond the arch but he makes up for that with his defensive talents and his ability to run the floor well.
The Wizards can easily find a shooter later in the draft or even sign one through free agency. There will be a lot of floor spacing options available to them. Taking the best player available is the best option for the Wizards at number three.
Either way, I don’t believe that the Wizards can screw this pick up. There are too many talented players in this draft to do so. We’ll see when the name is called, though.