In his second NBA season, Ibaka (he played in Europe for a season) has quickly emerged as what Presti envisioned he would: a productive, shot-blocking forward-center who has significant scoring potential. Durant, Westbrook, Ibaka and guard James Harden (selected third overall in 2009) form the core group of a club built to win for a decade, with none of them over 22.
Presti’s biggest achievement is that he made the losses matter. He maximized the Thunder’s high draft position for three straight seasons, picking multiple highly skilled players capable of thriving in the NBA for a long time.
The Washington Post's LaVar Arrington, Tracee Hamilton and Dan Steinberg join host Jonathan Forsythe to discuss and debate the NBA playoffs, the draft lottery, the Nationals' recent success and the possibility of John Beck as the Redskins' starting quarterback.
This is Grunfeld’s challenge.
Wall was a good start, but the job isn’t even a quarter finished yet. It’s fine for Grunfeld and owner Ted Leonsis to express optimism because of the team’s solid cap maneuvering and other ancillary moves that worked out well. None of that matters, though, if Washington fails to draft additional impact players.
Some would contend this is a weak draft class, making it difficult for Grunfeld to deliver. Although it’s true that many of the best draft-eligible players remained in school because of the seemingly inevitable lockout coming this summer, the Wizards cannot use that fact as an excuse.
Presti was widely criticized for selecting Westbrook so high. Most teams had concerns about Westbrook’s shot selection and questioned his ability to play point guard. Ibaka was too much of a project to help early in his career, some clubs surmised.
At times during the playoffs, Westbrook has experienced difficult growing pains. Parts of Ibaka’s game are raw. And if they were free agents, most teams would eagerly rush to sign them.
Harrison Barnes probably would look great launching three-pointers in a Wizards uniform, and Wall undoubtedly would welcome power forward Jared Sullinger (or having almost anyone besides Andray Blatche at the position). Barnes remained at North Carolina and Sullinger returned to Ohio State, so Grunfeld will have to look elsewhere.
In today’s NBA, Presti has proven it’s possible for teams to go from the lottery to championship contention relatively fast if they choose the right players. Grunfeld has to find some more of those guys for the Wizards.