Beal delivered, as the Wizards hurdled five teams to enter a more hopeful draft position at No. 3. Wizards president Ernie Grunfeld received several handshakes and dozens of congratulatory phone calls and text messages after his team was one of the two teams to move up in the lottery – Cleveland jumped two spots to claim the No. 1 overall pick.
Grunfeld sported a wry smile and even joked around with Beal at Disney/ABC Times Square studios, amazed by his most fortunate lottery appearance since the Wizards earned the right to draft John Wall first overall in 2010.
But even with the exciting move, the Wizards will still have to wait and see what the teams ahead of them decide to do before they get attached to one player. Georgetown sophomore forward Otto Porter Jr., UNLV freshman power forward Anthony Bennett and Indiana forward Victor Oladipo are options for the Wizards if Kentucky center Nerlens Noel and Kansas shooting guard Ben McLemore go first and second.
Porter is currently preparing for the June 27 NBA draft at McDonough gym at Georgetown and will likely work out for the top three or four teams in the lottery. At 6-feet-8 and with a 7-1 wingspan, Porter stands out as an obvious choice at No. 3 for Washington. He would fill a need small forward, has local ties and a skill set that would mesh well with Wall and Beal.
But there is a possibility that Porter, arguably the most NBA-ready player among the top prospects, might not be around when the Wizards pick third. A source with knowledge of the Cavaliers’ thinking said Porter is under consideration to go No. 1.
“I definitely see myself up there,” Porter said last week in Chicago, adding that he believes he can flourish at the next level. “My versatility. I think that’s definitely going to show when I get to the NBA. My ability to rebound, bring it up the court, make something happen or set up the play. Anything that it has in store for me, I think my versatility is going to carry over.”
Cleveland and Orlando are both intriguing because they are both incorporating the San Antonio Spurs model for team building, focusing on fit and character as much as, if not more than, talent.
The Cavaliers already have a franchise cornerstone in all-star point guard Kyrie Irving, while Orlando is still seeking to find one – and could remain bad for at least one more season, with the 2014 draft expected to feature promising prospects such as Andrew Wiggins and Jabari Parker.
Cleveland general manager Chris Grant worked for five seasons under Danny Ferry, a former Spurs executive, and has never been blinded by the prevailing opinions of most draft boards when making his selections. He took Tristan Thompson and Dion Waiters higher than most had projected.
The Cavaliers are reportedly open to moving the pick, but they also have an obvious need at small forward, which makes Porter a possibility to join Irving in Cleveland.
Noel is the favorite to go first overall but is a risky choice after weighing in at 206 pounds at the combine and recovering from a torn left anterior cruciate ligament. Cleveland is also expecting to have center Anderson Varejao back from surgery to remove a blood clot in his right lung, which ended his season, and was a personal favorite of new (old) coach Mike Brown.
The Magic is led by Rob Hennigan, who worked for four years in San Antonio and another four in Oklahoma City. He spent his first season acquiring young pieces such as center Nic Vucevic, swingman Maurice Harkless and Arron Afflalo in the Dwight Howard deal and landed Tobias Harris in exchange for J.J. Redick. Orlando needs help in the backcourt and have been linked to Michigan point guard Trey Burke and McLemore, whom Porter said he would take first, excluding himself, because “he is explosive. He can shoot and he’s unselfish.”
The Wizards moved up four spots three years ago, when it was obvious that they planned to take Wall, the electrifying point guard from Kentucky. But when Wall represented the Wizards at the draft lottery in 2011, the team dropped a full three spots to sixth, where they chose Jan Vesely, a pick that has yet to – and may never – pan out in Washington.
After sliding down one spot to select third last year, the Wizards were able to take Beal, a player whom they had honed in on long before the draft lottery. Wall and Beal have both proven to be solid choices thus far, but Grunfeld knows that there is no guarantee that the Wizards will get a player from this draft that can have an immediate impact.
“Every year, you’re going to have a few that can contribute,” Grunfeld said. “With Brad and any rookie, there is an adjustment period to get accustomed to the NBA game. Hopefully, we get someone like that, but again, it’s seldom that someone comes in and turns the whole program around by himself.”