[Please enjoy this guest post on the Draft Lottery and the likely top five picks by Devin Scott]
The Wizards pulled John Wall out of their hat. Excuse the terrible pun, but in all essence, that’s really what happened Tuesday night. Seacaucus’ greatest spectacle was in full swing, just in time for Abe Pollin to have his final revenge on the living, willing the Wiz to the NBA’s most bittersweet achievement: the number one overall pick.
Just because the Wiz won the pick doesn’t mean they’re even relevant though. The franchise is still a wreck. They’ve got four more years of Gil plus no Caron or Antawn, which, as we’ve learned in the past month, may not be a terrible thing. Mostly, DC is an island of misfit toys with a bit of cap space — enough for one max deal, but no one is signing there.
Basically, they needed this pick. It represents a fresh start, one they desperately need. They can go one of two ways with it: John Wall or Evan Turner.
Wall is the sure thing, a point guard out of the mold of Derrick Rose or Tyreke Evans. Yeah, those guys have different games, but there is a constant: the Calipari point guard. In the last couple of years, the guy has churned out talent, especially at the #1 spot that so many teams covet. Just ask LeBron how important a high-usage distributor is. Wall is the total package, and he hasn’t even found three-point range yet.
Turner, on the other hand, is this draft’s number-one franchise player. He’s a shooting guard/small forward hybrid, capable of scoring, passing, guarding four positions and, most importantly, a great leader. I see him as a franchise player, your Wade/Roy kind of guy.
Either guy could be number one overall. The Wiz have a tough decision to make. Do they take Wall, hoping that Gil will play shooting guard or come off the bench? Or do they draft Turner to be their primary option, hoping Arenas can turn his career around?
If I’m Ernie Grunfeld, I’m taking Wall. He’s a sure-thing, can’t-miss prospect. Turner is attractive, but I think the Arenas situation would be difficult for his psyche and development. Wall won’t have to deal with it, he can play and watch Gil try to become a shooting guard — or ride the bench.
Philadelphia, who jumped up four spots to number two, is praying Grunfeld echoes my sentiments. Evan Turner would be a blessing for this team. Andre Iguodala is a decent player but is getting alpha-dog money and playing like a second banana. Turner would come in to play small forward or sixth man. He could excel at either one until he matures to the degree that he can begin to assert himself as the leader of that team and back court mate of Jrue Holiday for the future.
If the Wiz take Turner, Wall would not be the pick here. DeMarcus Cousins or Wesley Johnson would. Philly already has decent young point guards in Holiday and Lou Williams. There’s no need to take Wall and sacrifice what they could gain from another wing player or center.
Meanwhile, the New Jersey Nyets fall to number three. New owner Mikhael Prokhorov’s influence clearly could not force Stern’s hand into rigging the lottery for them. No matter, they still get a pretty good cancellation prize: Georgia Tech power forward Derrick Favors.
The big knock on Favors is that no one really has a good idea of how good he is. A lot of people have made a big deal about how bad the guards he played with in college. News flash: Devin Harris is still a pretty good player. I’m not totally in love with the guy, but I think throwing the ball into Favors and Lopez would be pretty comforting and effective. On the defensive end, the Nets can evolve into an enormous front court and eliminate Yi Jianlian from having to run from rebounds like they’re Africanized bees or playing matador defense anytime wants to drive to the hoop.
Fourth is the Timberwolves. The biggest story for me with this team is that Kevin Love and Al Jefferson can’t play together. It’s a ridiculous thought, in my mind. Yes, they’re both 4s and present a match-up problem for teams when Minny is on offense. And both guys rebound and sometimes contest shots. But, much like Washington, this team is all messed up. They need a player who can score 25 points and use Johnny Flynn’s distributing skills.
Enter Wes Johnson. He’s the other franchise G/F in this draft. His glaring deficiency is that his last game in college was a major disappointment and that may provide a glimpse into how he plays in big games. Nonetheless, the Wolves need someone to play on the wing and Johnson is the next best guy to do so after Turner. Even if they use their cap space to make a run for a guy like Rudy Gay, Johnson fills a huge whole left by Corey Brewers’s corpse.
Rounding out the top 5 is the Kings, who fell backwards and may have missed out on Johnson at this spot. They’re very young as team and somewhat soft, but they have Tyreke Evans. And he’s pretty damn good. What this team lacks is not size, as evidenced by this excellent piece of work over at HP, but effective use of their size. DeMarcus Cousins would be a good fit as a 6′ 11″ bruiser with a 7′ 4″ wingspan. Yeah, he’s immature and may be a bust due to character reasons, but if he harnesses his talents and matures as a man, he can be a force down low and punish anyone in the league that isn’t named Dwight. His size and talent makes him worth the risk, his coaching staff will determine how far it takes him.
The Kings could also go a different direction and try to get better wing players, namely Al-Farouq Aminu or Avery Bradley, who would really help Sacramento score the basketball. They really only have one effective play right now: “Reke on 5.” They traded Kevin Martin and lack a true shooting guard right now. Bradley would be a reach here, but he’s talented and fills a huge void for the Kings. I foresee them trying to trade this pick to a team willing to part with a wing player that is in need of a true center like Cousins, unless the Kings really fall in love with him.
As far as a top five goes, this is a pretty strong draft. Unlike last year, which was dominated by point guards, this draft is full of bigs, which are usually very hit-or-miss. Hopefully for the teams drafting in the top ten, these players are hits.