In the land of the projects

I thought and thought for about 30 minutes trying to find a beginning to this post.  Right now, I have nothing, so I'll just come out and say it.

This is an extremely disappointing draft.  I think we all agreed that the Wizards needed to come away with someone who could play a backup role right away.  We conceded that, at 18, you won't get a difference-maker, but because there are so many mid-level veterans with bloated contracts occupying our bench, it would be outstanding if we could find a contributor cheaply.  There seemed to be plenty of guys around who could do that.  Even after Speights and Hibbert went in the two picks before us, there was still Arthur, Hickson, Chalmers and others around to draft.  Arthur was not someone I liked coming in, but at the very least, he could play in the league right now.

Instead, it appears we came away with yet another project, wasting the sense of urgency that we need.  I don't think I'd have a major problem with the JaVale McGee pick if we didn't already have Andray Blatche and Oleksiy Pecherov.  Both are our projected big men of the future, but both still need some work to get there.  Blatche showed signs last year, but he has a ways to go.  Pecherov, meanwhile, didn't show anything at all.  But both needed to be developed, even if that meant throwing them into the fire a little bit.

Now, you can add JaVale McGee to that list.  I get why Ernie liked the kid; 7'6'' wingspan, the ability to run the floor, the shot-blocking, the fact that he can shoot, etc.  But the fact is, he's a project.  He was a freshman in the Western Athletic Conference last year, replacing an all-time Nevada great in Nick Fazekas.  He couldn't even rebound well enough in that conference, and his assist-to-turnover ratio makes one shutter.  Worse yet, as Icantfeelmyface mentioned, he's a positively awful man-to-man defender.  Great.  Exactly what this team needs. 

I think every Wizards fan has to be extremely disappointed with Ernie Grunfeld.  As Pickaxe and Roll mentioned, the draft is the only place where someone can get a player for nothing.  Teams that are able to find contributors late in the draft have such a huge advantage over those who keep rolling the dice looking for a superstar instead of getting the role player right in front of them.  Those that are successful take advantage of this opportunity.  In his tenure as Wizards GM, Ernie Grunfeld has not done that, with the exception of the Nick Young pick last year.  This time, with potential role players in J.J. Hickson, Mario Chalmers and Darrell Arthur around to potentially plug major holes on this team (rebounding, post scoring, perimeter defense), Ernie decided to roll the dice on some crazy big man project from Nevada.  That doesn't exactly inspire confidence.

None of this is JaVale McGee's fault, and nobody should be taking it out on him.  He is a Wizard right now, and I'll root for him to reach his potential.  He seems like a pretty good kid, and I have to give him a lot of credit for putting on 15 pounds since the end of the season.  Unlike Blatche, he seems dedicated to improving, and if he somehow does reach his potential, we have a Marcus Camby-like paint enforcer on our hands.  I just fear he'll never get there, or worse yet, he'll get there, but only after he gets traded.

I have less of a problem with the selling of Bill Walker, though I'm very disappointed he won't come play here for purely selfish reasons.  At the very least, he could have competed with D-Mac for backup small forward minutes, and he provides a dose of athleticism that would have been very aesthetically pleasing for any fan.  But the truth is, he's a second-round pick, and it saves us about 700,000 dollars if he isn't on our roster.  McGuire's a better player than him anyway.  Richard Hendrix, though, would have been a great addition as a beefy, polished guy to balance out our lengthy frontcourt.  I'm upset Ernie didn't use the pick on him, but ultimately, we're talking about a pick that would have been a nice bonus if he even made the team. 

The bottom line is that the chance to add a legitimate rotation player went astray in a third big man project.  Meanwhile, Cleveland still kills us on the boards, we still can't defend the three or guard good perimeter scorers, we're right on the luxury tax and unable to make major pushes in free agency unless we get rid of Gilbert or Antawn, which would be incredibly stupid. 

As a Wizards fan, I'm very dejected tonight.  We all should be.      

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