Wizards Choose Unlikely Replacement For Trevor Ariza, Eye On Durant In Future

Coming off of a surprisingly successful second round exit in the playoffs, the Wizards had two players to re-sign: Marcin Gortat and Trevor Ariza. Having both guys be right in the middle of their prime and coming off of career years, it was predictable that they would get huge contracts in free agency. Most Wizards fans were a little queasy at the idea of re-signing, and likely having to overpay Gortat and Ariza, just to remain a good, but not great team.

They completed the first part, giving Gortat a huge payday, what he called “the best day of my life.” The deal for Gortat, worth $60 million over the next five seasons, seems like an overpay, especially on the back end, but was probably necessary to keep Gortat. Good centers are scarce in the NBA, and Gortat averaged a double-double last season. But, the real question mark was Ariza. Would he really get paid? And by paid I mean PAID. Don’t get me wrong: Ariza had a very good season last year. He was Washington’s best perimeter defender and shot 41% from 3, the best clip of his career from deep. But really, he’s just a catch-and-shoot corner 3 shooter. He benefitted from John Wall’s career year more than just about anyone else on the Wizards’ roster. He was the guy who got the open looks in the corner, off of Wall’s drive-n-kick dishes. That’s no fault of his, but it is to say that Ariza’s offensive production was largely the result of an All-Star point guard who created open shots for everyone else. He’s the type of player that can be replaced. He’s the ultimate ‘3 and D’ guy: he hits 3’s and plays good defense. Those are the kind of players you can find in free agency for cheap.

Ariza was a big piece of the Wizards' success last year, but he is replaceable.

Ariza was a big piece of the Wizards’ success last year, but he is replaceable.

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NBA Draft Diary

We’re 15 minutes away from the 2013 NBA Draft, otherwise known as the Worst Draft Ever. We’ve been spending weeks trying to convince ourselves that this draft isn’t that bad, and Jay Bilas just put things into perspective: “if this draft started at 5, and the Cavs picked from there, we’d be talking about how deep this draft is.” So that’s where we are. Unfortunately the draft doesn’t start at 5. Heather Cox just interviews Alex Len, quizzing him about how his injury feels and how his rehab process is going, only to close the interview saying “enjoy every minute of tonight,” as if to tell him THIS IS THE PEAK OF YOUR NBA CAREER, IT’S NEVER GONNA GET BETTER THAN THIS. Heather Cox and I agree on that. The camera then cuts to Sergey Karasev, the Russian sweet shooting 6’7 guard, smiling as he’s most likely getting berated by the New York fans. Perhaps the most unbearable recurring theme of this draft, as always, is Fran Fraschilla giving us the low-down on every international prospect in the draft, telling us how each of them would’ve lit up the US and how they’ll all have nice long careers. GOOD GOD why is Shane Battier an ESPN correspondent tonight? Rece Davis just said Battier was taking care of ESPN’s Twitter, calling it “ShaneCenter.” I don’t know who thought this was a good idea.

It’s Draft time. Let’s get this thing under way. Get ready for a roller coaster of a night, folks.

7:30 p.m. ET — ESPN is going with an old-school theme, narrated by Magic Johnson. I kind of dig it, if not for the  fact that most of these guys they’re showing probably won’t be in the league in a few years! As always, David Stern is getting booed by everyone in the Barclays Center, and Stern loves it. I can’t wait until he steps down. He took way too much delight saying “the Heat took home the second straight title,” as the fans go nuts.

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NBA Mock Draft

The day is here! Numerous NBA teams are going to go out of their way to expose their incompetence tonight! We’re going to see picks that cost teams for years to come. We’ll see Michael Jordan pick someone he destroyed in 1 on 1, and maybe even called “a flaming f*ggot.” We probably will not see a franchise player drafted. We could see each of the top 3 picks traded on draft night. Whatever happens tonight, we will be ready. This is “the most unpredictable draft” Chad Ford has ever seen, and we still don’t even know who’s going number one. Tonight is sure to confuse many, and predicting the order of the draft this year is pretty much impossible. We will give our best shot here at a mock draft, but it will be based on who teams should select, combined with what we think will happen.

i1. Nerlens Noel
Despite all of the trade rumors, the Cavs will be forced to keep the pick and take Noel. Noel is not a bad prospect, but in most drafts, a 206 pound center with a torn ACL would not be selected first. The Cavs have talked about taking Noel, Len, and trading the pick, so it’s anyone’s guess what they’ll do with the pick. They should take Victor Oladipo, but they’ll most likely go with a big man here.

i2. Victor Oladipo
Oladipo was dubbed the safest prospect by the GMs in the league, and for good reason. At the very least, he will be an elite defender in the NBA. If he continues to develop his offense, namely his perimeter shooting, then he could be an all star. The Magic could be tempted to take McLemore here, but Oladipo is a far safer prospect with little chance of failing in the NBA.

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Rating NBA Draft Prospects’ Bust Potential

Kwame Brown. Darko Milicic. Adam Morrison. What do these guys all have in common? Well, besides the fact that two of them were drafted by Michael Jordan. They’re some of the biggest busts in NBA history, of course! Sometimes it’s easy to spot a potential bust, but other times they come completely out of left field. Take Adam Morrison for example. No disrespect to the WCC, but he was not exactly facing stiff competition. He dominated the NCAA his junior year, putting up over 28 points per game, but came up very small in the tournament. And then tried to spin that in a positive light. All of the comparisons to Larry Bird were based solely on Morrison being a far from athletic, white jump shooter. In retrospect, it’s absurd that Morrison was the #5 pick in the draft, just another one of MJ’s brilliant personnel decisions over the years. Hindsight is 20/20, but the Morrison pick should’ve been more obvious. He was a one tool player. He was a scorer, but he was used to touching the ball every possession and being the go-to-guy, a role he would clearly never have in the pros. Morrison couldn’t handle the ball, couldn’t rebound, couldn’t play ANY defense, and didn’t come close to making his teammates better.

Was it really a surprise that this guy was a bust?
Was it really a surprise that this guy was a bust?

And yet what makes the Morrison case so frightening was that he wasn’t even drafted on that dreaded word that gets GMs fired: potential. More often than not, GMs will salivate over super athletic players who’ve yet to completely translate their athleticism onto the court. In other words, they’ve underachieved and often look like they’ve never played Basketball before, yet teams still believe it’s just a matter of time before these guys figure it out. This is not to knock athleticism as a guiding principle of drafting players, but sometimes actual college production and talent are overlooked at the expense of athleticism. How do you know you’re dealing with one of these guys? Well, there’s a few key phrases are sure-fire signs. If you hear phrases like “he has an NBA body,” “he hasn’t figured it out yet,” “he’s a tweener,” or “he needs to improve his motor” then stop whatever you’re doing, cover your eyes, and run. Sometimes these guys pan out, but more often than not, their potential is nothing but a pipe dream.

Marvin Williams had no business being a top 3 pick, but his ideal athletic 6'9 frame was too enticing for scouts to ignore.
Marvin Williams had no business being a top 3 pick, but his ideal athletic 6’9 frame was too enticing for scouts to ignore.

 

This year’s draft has been called perhaps the worst ever. There are no obvious franchise players or even future perennial all-stars like most years. Most scouts though believe there are many rotation guys in this draft and that the 30th pick may not be much different from the 3rd pick. Let’s take a look at the some of the players projected to go in the first round to see who some of the safest picks are, as well as the most likely busts. We will evaluate each player’s bust potential on a scale from 0-10, with 10 being a definite bust.

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Lottery Breakdown

Ahh, it’s that time of the year again. The time of the year when the most incompetent franchises in the NBA pray that they’ll be gifted the absolutely unearned right to draft a great player. The draft is supposed to be a plac

e to get promising players who are very cheap. Unfortunately, many of the same teams find themselves in the lottery year after year, and are either hindered by bad luck or by delusional incompetence. (See: 2008-2009 Washington Wizards) This a useful example, if only because it is so absurdly idiotic and illustrates why every Wizards fan feels like this whenever Ernie Grunfeld is about to make a decision. It would not surprise me if some fans have in fact “lost their eyes,” being forced to watch the likes of Oleksiy Pecherov and Jan Vesely in the past few years. Anyway, the 2008-2009 Wiz give us a textbook example of a GM and team that are impatient and ridiculously delusional. We’re talking about a team coming off a 19-63 campaign. What does a 19 win team look like you ask? Well, we’re talking about a team 1) whose best player was bringing guns into the locker-room, 2) had a soon-to-be convicted murderer, and perhaps the worst indictment of all, 3) started Darius Songaila.  We’re looking at a historically dysfunctional team that needed to be dismantled ASAP. So what did manageme

nt do when it had the 5th pick in the draft and the chance to draft Stephen Curry? They did what any competent team would do: they traded the pick for two mediocre role players, Randy Foye and Mike Miller! The Wizards may have been 19-63 and the punchline of the NBA, but they were going all-in next season! What’s the point of this example? The point is that patience is key and trading away top picks is rarely worth it, unless it’s possible to acquire a franchise player in return. Sort of like how the Wizards had a chance last year to trade the #3 pick used on Brad Beal for JAMES HARDEN, one of the ten best players on earth. This year’s draft has been called one of the weakest of all time, and while that may be true, there will inevitably be very good NBA players somewhere in this draft. Let’s look at the best and worst case scenarios for each of the lottery teams in this draft whose top prospect is a 206 pound center with a torn ACL!

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1. Cleveland Cavaliers

Best-Case Scenario: Victor Oladipo
Worst-Case Scenario: Nerlens Noel

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