After one of the most tumultuous seasons in recent memory, which saw half of the team unloaded in-season, the Washington Wizards pulled off the ultimate coup last week when they drew the #1 slot in the upcoming draft lottery. So, with the team in full rebuilding mode, what do the Wizards need to do this off-season to claw their way back into contention? More importantly, who do they take with the #1 pick and is Gilbert Arenas in the team’s future plans?
Returning Players- Gilbert Arenas (PG); Andray Blatche (PF/C); Al Thorton (SF); Nick Young (SG); Javale McGee (C); Quinton Ross (SF); Randy Foye (SG – Qualifying Offer); Josh Howard (SF – Team Option)
Team Payroll (7 Players, Foye, no Howard) – $33,978,196
Estimated Salary Cap – $56,000,000
Team Needs- Everything (No, really, everything)
Position Needs – SG, SF, PF, C
Picks – 1st Round (#1, #30); 2nd Round (#34)
Analysis- With 3 picks in the Top 34, the Wizards are in great position to add some desparately needed pieces to play immediately. While common sense dictates that John Wall will be the #1 pick, is he necessarily the best pick for Washington? If Arenas is in Washington to play out his contract, then Evan Turner may be the better fit. However, John Wall will put fans in the seats, which Washington desparately needs, and Arenas can easily move to the shooting guard position. How Arenas handles this could be a sign if he is willing to make amends for the past season. Plus, a back-court of Wall and Arenas can really keep teams off-balance, and also letting the Wizards choose to play at a quick pace if they choose. With Nick Young and possibly Randy Foye joining in the back-court, look for the Wizards to address the front-court with picks #30 and #34. It may be safe to assume that these 2 picks are basically interchangeable in terms of the talent available, so I will address them together. With Andray Blatche and Javale McGee in the front court, the Wizards are certainly lacking toughness down low. Two possible remedies to this situation are Gani Lawal and Larry Sanders. Both players are effective rebounders and have improved defensively in the last year. Lawal is more consistent on the offensive end, though Sanders is a true post presence. It may be possible to choose both, but I would look for the Wizards to find a small forward solution with the other pick. There are some intriguing possibilities at the 3, including Trevor Booker, Craig Brackins and Damion James. I am guessing at least one of these players will still be available at either #30 or #34, most likely Brackins. Brackins would provide some good size at the small forward/power forward position, and give the Wizards a chance to go with a bigger lineup at times. If somehow Quincy Pondexter is still available, he would be a great fit for the team, providing hustle, someone to crash the boards and the ability to score when needed. With these 3 picks, look for the Wizards to make an immediate improvement next season.
Make sure to come back tomorrow as we move on to Eastern Conference Finalist, the Orlando Magic.