The selection of John Wall by itself would have been enough to generate enough reaction to fill out a post and then some. Adding in two trades to net three more picks and a veteran? Yep, that will spill some digital ink.
After the jump, you can comb through some of the best of what the Internet had to offer from last night's action.
On drafting John Wall
The balloons cascaded from the ceiling and the confetti shot into the air at precisely 7:37 p.m. ET Thursday night, the moment commissioner David Stern appeared on the projection screens and monitors from New York and made the announcement: John Wall was the first pick of the NBA Draft by the Wizards. It was never a secret, but neither is New Year's Eve every year, so the hundreds of season ticket-holders wedged onto the practice floor at Verizon Center in downtown Washington acted as if the big ball had just dropped in Times Square. They celebrated, cheering and shouting as they watched Wall, the point guard from Kentucky, grin, hug his family and walk to the stage. Minutes earlier, they had been treated to televised clips of their last No. 1 overall pick, Kwame Brown in 2001 (booing him ferociously), and of disgraced onetime favorite Gilbert Arenas (widespread groaning). The long-suffering fans knew exactly what they were celebrating.
Wall also said he is thrilled to be the leader of a new youth movement in D.C. The Wizards obviously have four picks this year, which means a lot of new young guys are coming in, so Wall took note. "That means a lot. It means we're going out there and trying to start up brand new and build the team all over again," he said. "Let's hope that, with me and the other guys picked this year, we can change the organization around on and off the court."
"It's the first time in two decades I can actually root for a Washington basketball team," said Adam Bieber, perhaps overwhelmed by the moment. "Twenty-three years of being depressed. Gugliotta. Webber. Strickland. Kwame Brown." "Tyrone Nesby!" shouted out one of his friends. "Popeye Jones!" shouted another.
John Wall turned and hugged his mother when Commissioner David Stern announced that the Kentucky freshman had been selected No. 1 overall by the Washington Wizards. "I can’t even, words can’t even explain right now," Wall said as he talked of his mother, Frances Pulley, who raised him in Raleigh, N.C. "Growing up I lived in a tough neighborhood, getting in trouble in school, especially when my dad passed. So my mom taking me to school and picked up in the afternoon, that was it. As a kid, 10, 11 years old, you want to see your family spend time and (we) didn’t really have it. She was the first lady, she says, if you don’t change your attitude, you’ll never be doing so for her, to be in some situation, means a lot to me and I love her to death."
"He compares favorably [to Rose]," ESPN draft analyst Jay Bilas said. "He's faster in the open floor. He can get end to end faster than anyone in this draft and as fast as any prospect I can remember. A guy like Wall plays ahead of the defense so often that he's so dynamic. He has a very quick first step. "Rose is a more powerful player and probably a better finisher at the rim. Wall can be a better defender. I don't think he reached his defensive potential because he can make basket-saving plays."
In a league that has become more and more point guard driven, the Wizards just drafted one who in the words of Head Coach Flip Saunders might "revolutionize the point guard position because of his athleticism and his extremely intelligent mind-set as far as running a team." It was this mind-set that helped the Wizards #1 overall pick turn Kentucky basketball around in just one season. Starting at point guard as a freshman at Kentucky, Wall was instantly put under the microscope. Displaying poise and maturity beyond his 19 years, Wall embraced the pressure of quarterbacking one of the winningest programs in college basketball. In just his second collegiate game, Wall calmly sank a game-winning buzzer beater against the Miami Redhawks. The game-winner sparked the Wildcats to a 29-2 record and a #1 seed in the NCAA Tournament.
On the Kirk Hinrich trade
The deal, which could not be completed until July 8 due to salary cap restrictions, would knock $9 million off Chicago's books for next season, and allow the team to come very close to being able to offer two free agents a contract that starts at the maximum next season. For the Wizards? Well, we have no idea why they're working this trade. Just a day earlier, the Oklahoma City Thunder grabbed the 18th pick in the draft from the Miami Heat for the pittance of $2 million and the acceptance of Daequan Cook's(notes) $2.2 million contract. Washington would have to take on $17 million with Hinrich over the next two seasons, scuttling its own cap space both this summer and next in the process. All for a little guard depth and the 17th pick?
The Wizards have coveted the 29-year-old Hinrich for several seasons, wanting his veteran presence in their backcourt and his ability to play both guard spots. Besides his on-court skill Washington believes that Hinrich can be a solid mentor for John Wall, whom the Wizards will take with the first pick in tonight's NBA Draft. Hinrich was a good instructor for Derrick Rose, the Bulls' star guard who was also taken first overall in the Draft two years ago. The deal also gives Washington some flexibility in case Gilbert Arenas does not return to form following last season's 50-game suspension that he received from NBA Commissioner David Stern after the infamous guns in the locker room incident with former teammate Javaris Crittenton. The Wizards now will have a solid three-guard rotation and will not bring back veteran Randy Foye next season.
For the Bulls, the move frees up the $1.3 million that would have been owed to the 17th pick and the $9 million owed to Hinrich next season. Chicago is a major player in free agency, and with this deal has nearly enough cap space to sign two max-level free agents outright. LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh, Amar'e Stoudemire, Joe Johnson and Carlos Boozer -- basically the entire top of the free agent class -- have all been mentioned as Bulls targets. Hinrich is also on the books for $8 million in 2011-12, and this deal effectively ends any chance at a big-name free agent the Wizards would have had this summer. Hinrich is traditionally a point guard, but showed an ability to play off the ball next to Derrick Rose in Chicago. One would assume he'll split minutes with incumbent Wiz guard Gilbert Arenas and presumptive top pick John Wall. It's expected Arenas will be the team's starter at shooting guard this season.
What’s amazing is that Hinrich’s deal continuously gets more poisonous as time goes on. The development of the Free Agency Summer of Doom, the impending lockout, the drafting of Wall, the drafting of Rose, everything builds towards Hinrich becoming less and less valuable, despite the fact I would donate significant body parts to get him on the depth chart in front of Mike Conley. This has got to be an Arenas-related move. It simply has to be. Either that or they’re flipping Hinrich like a Vaudeville theater.
It’s certainly possible Hinrich can resurrect his career in Washington and I’m sure the Wiz will give him every chance to do that. However, this definitely looks more like the Wizards using their cap space creatively, employing a "cash for trash" or "bring out your dead" [BOYD] strategy of taking other team’s bad contracts in exchange for young prospects and/or draft picks. While most people would want the BOYD strategy to involve taking back only players with 1 year remaining on their contract, that might not be realistic. I can understand not wanting any more multi-year contracts going into a new collective bargaining agreement, but that’s a view lots of teams have so making those deals won’t be a simple matter. In any case, Hinrich’s contract will now be a valuable bargaining chip going into the 2011-12 offseason, when he has only one year remaining and will look good to teams hoping to shed salary.
On drafting Kevin Seraphin
During the interview with reporters, Seriphan was wearing a Bulls cap, but talking about how excited he was to be in Washington. And from what I hear, he really, really wanted to play for the Wizards. Tommy Sheppard and Milt Newton went to see Seriphan in Treviso, Italy a few weeks ago and came away impressed. Seriphan came away thinking that the Wizards really wanted him. Unable to workout because of a minor knee injury, he visited five teams in six days last week, including Washington, Oklahoma City and Cleveland (which I heard was looking to get the 20th pick in order to take him). But I heard that when he visited Washington, Seriphan told Grunfeld, "You need to take me! You need to take me." From witnesses in the room, Grunfeld apparently smiled and told him he might be able to work something out.
Seraphin, a 20-year-old, 6-9, 263-pound forward/center, is described by international scouts as a physical rebounder/shot-blocker, and some have compared his game to that of Denver's Nene. Seraphin, who attended the draft and spoke to the media after he was selected, said his game also is similar to that of Atlanta's Al Horford. "I rebound, I block shots, and I can [bang]," Seraphin said, pounding his fist into his hand with a grin. "I am excited to play for Washington. They saw me play a lot and I plan to work hard."
On drafting Trevor Booker
Wizards team President Ernie Grunfeld said among the team's top priorities in this draft was to add toughness, and thus it made a deal with Minnesota for the No. 23 and 56 picks in exchange for the 30th and 35th selections. "There were two or three guys we were looking at, and we were hoping to get two players that we were really looking at at 30 and 35, but it didn't look like it was going to happen," Grunfeld said, "and we wanted to make sure that we got the player we were looking at, and that's the reason we moved up, because if we stayed at 30 and 35, we could have lost both those players."
On drafting Hamady Ndiaye
Ndiaye is from Dakar, Senegal and played center at Rutgers. He's the reigning defensive player of the year for the Big East and blocks a lot of shots. Basically he is a really tall, defensively gifted but offensively challenged individual. He could be the next Ben Wallace, he could be Dikembe Mutombo or he could even be Theo Ratliff. Sadly, it is likely he has an extremely good chance at being none of those guys and just disappearing into the night like most players picked 56th in the draft tend to do. Toss a coin in the air, this one could go either way.
Twitter / JaVale McGee
How do u go first round averaging 3 points...I guess it's all potential...
Grunfeld didn't say anything about free agency other than to acknowledge that the Wizards have cash: "I think it’s going to be very exciting. I think the fans will see an exciting team, and they’re going to be excited because we’re going to have a lot of young players who they can see develop, who they can see on a nightly basis and like we said, we want to be competitive for many years to come. We have a new CBA coming up, we don’t know what that’s going to be like, and I think the way we’re going about doing this worked for the Capitals, and Ted believes in it, and I believe in it, and we’re going to try to carry out that plan... It’s very seldom that one player steps in and changes the whole core of the franchise by himself. That’s why we want to get these young players, and we want to continue to grow with them and add pieces. This whole process started last year at the trade deadline."
Washington came away with a pretty big one-night haul in terms of its rebuilding. John Wall was the known pick at No. 1, but the Wizards also landed a quality veteran mentor for Wall, Kirk Hinrich from the Bulls. Not only did they get Hinrich, but they also pilfered the Bulls’ No. 17 pick, too, and selected big French project Kevin Seraphin. They later traded for Minnesota’s pick (23), taking Trevor Booker. The Wizards have a goal of adding young talent, and they did so in a large way on Thursday, starting with Wall. "I will go in and show those guys what I can do," Wall said. "I want to be a leader. I think I am a leader who is not afraid to speak up to the older guys."
After taking John Wall, a foregone conclusion, the Wizards thought/hoped they could get a pair of more relatively mature, polished and experienced big men with picks 30 and 35, specifically Quincy Pondexter and Trevor Booker. But when Booker went at No. 23 and it was clear Pondexter wasn't going to last until 30, Wizards president Ernie Grunfeld and co. pulled the trigger on a trade to make sure they at least got one of them instead of losing both. Size and defense appear to drive the selections of Kevin Seraphin and Hamady Ndiaye, and there's no arguing that. The Wizards proved last season that energetic, athletic wing-types, such as Cartier Martin, can be found at almost any time. No need to get them in the draft.
The Wizards take John Wall, and it should be a merry night in the District. But then GM Ernie Grunfeld goes and trades for Kirk Hinrich (owed $17 million over two years) so he can draft French power forward Kevin Seraphin, a nice prospect but not worth all that Hinrich salary. Armed with the No. 30 and No. 35 picks, Washington trades up to get promising Clemson power forward Trevor Booker, who should have been available at 30 if not 35. Wall will change the franchise, and maybe the league. But a decent population of Wizards fans won't be able to enjoy that fully because their front office is still making weird, hard-to-explain decisions. Alanis Morrissette almost had it right. This ain't irony, but it is like rain on your wedding day. The bizarre moves can't ruin this draft because of Wall, but you'd still prefer Grunfeld didn't rain his crazy all over the place. Final Grade: B.
Teams building from scratch have to make moves, bold and creative moves. They have to do so quickly and aggressively, taking calculated risks, looking not too far into the future while realizing it's not time to live in the present either. The Washington Wizards, on all of those fronts, did splendidly Thursday night, drafting and trading pieces that figure to be part of a contending team or later allow for further moves that will ultimately help deliver a run deep into the playoffs. The 2010 NBA draft didn't mean jack to most NBA teams, most notably the two-time champion Los Angeles Lakers and the runner-up Boston Celtics. But it meant everything to the Wizards, who got to select a franchise player in John Wall; acquire a veteran guard in Kirk Hinrich, who can play real live defense and shoot; draft a project in Kevin Seraphin, a big and athletic Frenchman, about whom we know terribly little, but a kid the Wizards loved and knew they wouldn't find available with a later pick.
When someone asks, "Who had the best draft?" it's a loaded question. Usually, that seems to be less a matter of who added the most talent than who did the most with the picks they had. So putting the Wizards here has relatively little to do with John Wall and is much more about Seraphin and Trevor Booker. The reaction to Washington's deal for Hinrich was instant and negative, but I don't think the former Chicago guard is nearly as worthless as he's being made out to be. Hinrich has been one of the league's best defensive guards, while his offensive value has fluctuated depending on whether he's making his threes (last year being a down year). For the Wizards, creating cap space was always more useful for deals like this than going out and signing a marquee free agent this summer, even with Wall in the mix. As compared to Oklahoma City's deal with Miami on Wednesday, Washington had to take on far more salary to get a similar draft pick, but keep in mind that Hinrich might bring additional return if flipped in another trade down the road.