I had a thought today as I was sitting on the metro that was majorly delayed due to the terrible accident between Fort Totten and Takoma (which I didn't know about at the time). (By the way, our condolances should go out to the unfortunate victims of that accident. What a terrible thing to happen).
What's so bad about using the fifth pick anyway?
Maybe it's because the latest rumors for the fifth pick don't really do much for me (Larry Hughes for Mike James/Etan AND 5? I hope that's a joke). Maybe it's because what once started as Manu Ginobili, Amare Stoudamire or Josh Howard has morphed into Mike Miller/Randy Foye (not terrible, but not amazing either), Larry Hughes or the prospect of being Pritch-slapped. Maybe it's because I'm weary of the litany of rumors that have dominated this year's draft season (It sure seems like a lot more than usual). Maybe it's because I know 95 percent of these rumors are either false or misdirection plays, yet I still follow them religously.
But the prospect of actually using the fifth pick is seeming more and more enticing to me. Sure, if we can get value for it, that's great, but if not, there's enough talent, even in this poor draft, to give us a piece that can definitely help us now and in the future, even if it won't be Blake Griffin.
It's been well documented here that the Wizards need help in the backcourt. Gilbert Arenas' knee is still a major concern, as is DeShawn Stevenson's back, Nick Young's maturity and development, Dominic McGuire and Javaris Crittenton's outside shots and Mike James', well, everything. There's not a bona fide starter in the group except for Arenas. Even if Stevenson's back gets better and he returns to his previous level, he's a below-average player that is okay as a stopgap, but not a long-term solution. Young could take a step forward and seize the starting job, but even Young at his best isn't a good long-term fit with Arenas. McGuire could work defensively, but he's such a zero on offense that he becomes a liability, not to mention that it forces Caron Butler into the backcourt.
That's why it's nice that there are some really intriguing shooting guard prospects at the top of the draft. The more I've stuied them, the more confident I am that James Harden, Tyreke Evans and Stephen Curry (the people's choice) are all going to be very good pros. Harden's all-around game is really solid. He can shoot in transition, he can pass and he can create for others when needed -- all skills that'll suit him well alongside Arenas. Curry offers a dynamic offensive package, great intangibles, solid ball-handling skills and a "know how to play" side that'll get him major minutes on a good team right away. Evans has the best long-term potential of the three because of his length, his passing and his defensive potential. You can always become a better shooter, and Evans has the rest of the package there.
All three can help the Wizards alleviate their many weaknesses. Evans can help with the defense and Curry can help fix the Wizards' shooting and passing woes. Meanwhile, Harden seems like he has the type of game that could translate well to blending in alongside Arenas, creating when he needs to or fading into the background to let Arenas do his thing when he has to.
In all likelihood, one of the three players will be there when we pick. The Clippers are picking Blake Griffin, and while Memphis and Sacramento are confusing now, neither seems like an optimal landing spot for Harden, Evans or Curry. If, for some reason, Curry, Harden and Evans are off the board when we pick, it means that either Rubio or Thabeet has slipped. Those are pretty good fallback options, all things considered.
We have to remember that nobody in this draft is the ultimate solution. That ship sailed as soon as the Wizards lost the lottery. Even if the Wizards get back to their previous level, they were two or three holes away from being a championship team. However, the fifth pick can help, in conjunction with a healthy return of our stars, further development of our youngsters and a possible trade or two involving our many remaining assets, which could include the player we pick as well if need be.
So my feeling is, if the big trades (Amare, Vince Carter, even Josh Howard) fall through, using the pick is far better than accepting a mediocre package for someone like Mike Miller or Larry Hughes. Sometimes, it pays not to get cute and try to make a simple decision overly complex. Zillions of rumors later, this strikes me as a "don't get cute" situation.
(Unless the pick is Jordan Hill. God, that would make me so mad).