Had the Wizards been lucky like New Orleans and won the top overall choice in the June 28 NBA draft, they would’ve had an easy decision in Kentucky’s Anthony Davis. Had they maintained their position with the second overall choice, they would’ve been in a more ideal position of selecting the best of the rest of what many draft analysts consider one of the deepest drafts in recent memory.
But now that they have slipped one spot to third, they will have to make their decision after taking their cue from the desperately-need-help-everywhere Charlotte Bobcats. The Bobcats will obviously take the best player available, which means they can go any number of ways – from big (Kansas’ Thomas Robinson or Connecticut’s Andre Drummond), to small (Kentucky’s Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Florida’s Bradley Beal or North Carolina’s Harrison Barnes).
With so much talent at the wing positions, the Wizards could look for a backcourt mate to pair with former No. 1 overall pick John Wall. They proved last season that they desperately need help on the perimeter, with the team ranking ahead of only Sacramento and Charlotte in three-point shooting at 32 percent.
Of the players under consideration to go between No. 2 and No. 5, Kidd-Gilchrist is arguably the most talented perimeter player, given his toughness, aggressiveness, energy and incredible energy. He lacks a consistent jumper, but he was probably the most important player not named Davis on the Wildcats last season – and he would already have something in common with Kentucky alum John Wall.
Kidd-Gilchrist wasn’t asked to score much on a stocked team, but he had 24 points in a victory over Indiana and 19 in a win over Baylor. He got most of his points by relentlessly attacking the basket and scrapping for offensive rebounds and tip-ins. The 6-8 Kidd-Gilchrist also has the potential to get better: He doesn’t turn 19 until two months after the NBA draft.
But with the Wizards possessing several players with similar skill sets – such as Jan Vesely and Chris Singleton – the 6-5 Beal would appear to be the strongest candidate at third. He’s not a knock-down shooter from long distance, connecting on just 33.9 percent of his attempts in his one season at Florida, but he has considerable range. He also has a reputation for being a fearless shooter/scorer and a solid rebounder. Beal is also young like Kidd-Gilchrist, turning 19 on the night of the NBA draft.
The 6-8 Barnes is arguably the more NBA-ready of the trio, having stuck around for two years at North Carolina is fundamentally sound, smooth and has a polished game. Barnes has a smooth midrange jumper but also shot 35.8 percent from long distance.
Heralded as a potential top pick coming out of high school, Barnes has played under considerable pressure in his two years in college. He managed to fit in on a talented team but often was criticized for being too passive and lacking the desire to take over in critical situations.
The Wizards have drafted big men in each of the past two drafts and recently acquired Nene, but Robinson and Drummond could be intriguing options as well.
Robinson often appeared to be a man among boys in college, with his solid post game and physical style of play helping him become a consensus first-team All-American. The 6-9 District native would immediately have a following with the Wizards – a team he once dreamed of playing for – and has displayed incredible perseverance in his three years at Kansas. He overcame personal loss and had to wait two years to get an opportunity to prove what he was worth. Charlotte will strongly consider him at two.
Drummond is one the draft’s biggest enigmas. Like Beal and Kidd-Gilchrist, he is also still just 18, and has considerable potential but he was often inconsistent in his one season at Connecticut. The 6-foot-11 Drummond has considerable athleticism and explosiveness. He is rated as the best center in the draft after averaging 2.7 blocks per game – which, incredibly, was nearly two fewer than Davis.
The Wizards will meet with several players next week at the Chicago pre-draft camp, where they will set up workout schedules and also get a better sense of the of the candidates as people. Owner Ted Leonsis has already declared that the team won’t move the selection, but now a seriously tough job begins.
Finding a future running mate with Wall shouldn’t be easy, should it?
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