With Harrison Barnes joining Perry Jones and Jared Sullinger, Wizards’ fans have been in terror of a potentially poor ping pong ball bounce in the upcoming lottery. Seriously, not since Rodney Dangerfield’s character in “Back to School” have I seen a more bizarre explanation for returning to college. If the Wizards win the no. 1 or no. 2 pick and can land Derrick Williams, Wizards fans will breathe a sigh of relief. Alternatively, if the Wizards end up with Enes Kanter, I think it’ll be a successful, though not exceptional draft. But what should the Wizards do if their standard lottery luck reappears? What’s the game plan if the Wizards pick between 5-7? I believe there are 5 philosophies the Wizards could adopt.
Option 1- 2011-2012 Tank
The Wizards should strive to win the 2012 draft. Under this plan, the Wizards punt this season in the hopes of winning it big next season. If the Wizards adopt this plan, they should:
1. Draft European prospects and stash them overseas for a year.
2. Preserve salary cap flexibility by not signing any veteran beyond this season.
3. Lower the cost of beer at the games
If the Wizards truly believe next year’s draft is fantastic, and this coming draft is terrible, they could play the long-game. By drafting prospects they can keep overseas, they ensure their record won’t improve dramatically. By preserving salary cap flexibility, they are better positioned to engaged in BOYD for next season. By not making any major additions, they also allow maximum playing time for each of their prospects. With Crawford, Booker, and Seraphin playing significant minutes, hopefully their games can develop around Wall. The Wizards would then be poised to leap up the standings after in 2012 with a group of seasoned young players, John Wall, and their 2012 top tier prospect. The danger of this plan is that is our players could develop bad habits, a losing culture, and a cancerous locker room. Another danger of this plan is that it may alienate the fans by basically “passing” on a chance to improve immediately in the hopes of adding a star.
Option 2- Aggressive Buyer
The Wizards could instead adopt an aggressive poster trying to accumulate as many pick as possible. Under this plan the Wizards would:
1. Buy picks outright
2. Buy picks through “Bring Our Your Dead” trades
When the general perception is that the draft is poor, it’s often a good time to buy. While the draft may not have the top tier star player to play opposite John Wall, the Wizards could acquire a good deep bench and maybe a starter or two through being an aggressive buyer in a down market. The Detroit Pistons are loaded with terrible contracts and would be primed for a BOYD. There are several teams in the lottery that might be willing to part with their lottery pick to increase their cap space: Milwaukee Bucks, Phoenix Suns, and Charlotte Bobcats. There are also teams that are substantially over the luxury tax line, such as Los Angeles Lakers. Since their rookie contrast cost double, these luxury tax teams might be willing to sell their picks. Lastly, owners are nervous about a lock-out too. A lock-out doesn’t just take away the player’s salaries, but the owner’s revenue. Some owners might be willing to just take the cash. If the Wizards were able to get four first rounds through BOYDs and outright purchases of picks, the Wizards might be able to make up for the fact that they didn’t land a top tier talent with their first pick. For example, adding Jan Vessely, Alec Burke, Jordan Hamilton, and Patric Young would be a pretty good haul for the Wizards. It would require the Wizards playing with an expanded bench, like the Nuggets are now and Hubbie Brown’s Memphis teams.
Option 3- Trade it Away
Under Grunfeld, the Wizards have twice traded away the fifth overall pick to add players. While the Antawn Jameson trade is largely perceived to be a success, the Miller/Foye trade did not work very well for our team. Nevertheless, the Miller/Foye trade did provide some cap relief. Two players who might be available with the 5-7 pick would be:
1. DeMarcus Cousins- He has obvious chemistry with John Wall. He also appears to be crazy. I am a not sure he’s worn out his welcome enough to be traded away for the 5-7th pick in this year’s draft. I am equally unsure if he fits with the culture the Wizards want to create. Nevertheless, I think the risk would be worth the rewards for the Wizards.
2. Al Jefferson- After jettisoning Deron Williams, Utah may be willing to move Al Jefferson. They already have Derrick Favors, Paul Millsap, and Mehmet Okkur under contract. Utah would be able to completely rebuild their team with 3 lottery picks in this draft. They would also have the Nets pick the following year. Jefferson would provide the Wizards will a solid low-post scorer. Nevertheless, his defense and conditioning are a concern. Additionally, the Jazz might not be ready to pass the baton to Derrick Favors yet.
Option 4- Aim for Calm and Measured Improvement
1. Draft best available player
2. Supplement current roster with “medium” cost free agents.
Rather than adopt a dramatic plan, the Wizards could simply select the best available player with both of their first round picks. The Wizards would probably make some marginable improvements. With lots of cap space, the Wizards may be able to add a veteran player or two. Adding a player like Tayshaun Prince or Shane Battie would not break the bank, but might help the team to challenge for a playoff spot this year.
Is that a recipe for becoming a championship team? Maybe, but it’s more likely the Wizards would become a lower tier Eastern conference team for the next few years. The advantage of this plan is that is that a marginal improvement would help develop a winning culture for the team. This might allow them to attract more free agent talent in the future. It would also help with keeping John Wall happy.
Option 5- Trade up
The Wizard could package some of their assets to trade up to snag Williams or Kanter. The Wizards could package their 18th pick with the 5-7th pick to get a top 3 pick.
Which option do you think is the right move for the Wizards? How would you do EG’s job?