Has the 6th pick ever looked worse than it does right now? A few weeks ago landing the 6th pick was displeasing to the Wizards and the fan base, but displeasing sounds much better than how the 6th pick looks after Memorial Day Weekend! Within the last few days there has been several interesting news worthy stories that have developed, limiting the expectations of the type of player that the Wizards had hoped to draft.
First it was Jan Vesely's agent letting it be known that his client will not workout individually for teams, which means only one of two things. He either has a "promise" that a team will draft him or his agent thinks that working out for these NBA teams will only hamper his stock...neither is all to assuring.
There's also the disheartening news that Jonas Valaciunas' European contract now includes a $3 million buyout of which an NBA team can only pay $500,000. This tells me that JV's going to need to collect a few more of those paychecks in Europe before he can even entertain coming over. JV was never expected to come to the states this season regardless, but a buyout that large says it'll be at least two more full seasons in Europe before he arrives in North America. Not many teams picking in the top 8 are going to want to wait that long to then have to re-develop him to NBA standards.
Speaking of buyouts and a European player that was a top pick that has yet to come over, Ricky Rubio had until today to sign his contract with the T'wolves to stay within the current CBA deal for rookie contracts. Since that deadline has now passed Rubio will have to wait until a new deal is reached (whenever that is) before he even entertains paying off his $6 mil buyout. This seems to indicate that Rubio plans on spending at least next season playing in his native Spain, thus sending David Kahn and the T'wolves into a tizzy now that finding a franchise PG becomes priority #1.
The reality of this draft and those that are in the mix to be selected amongst the top 10 picks is that outside of D. Williams, E. Kanter, and the three PG's, the remaining five players lack separation and thus it would be no surprise for a player expected in mocks to go 5th, drop to 9th, or a player slated going 10th, that ends up getting picked 6th.
Obviously all of us here are passionate about the Wizards and have our fingers crossed that EG will find a way to pull the trigger to move up to select Kanter or Williams without having to mortgage the future. While those are nice thoughts that will help you sleep well at night following a 23 win season, the dose of reality is that we can't expect the team to trade up. If they can, then we'll celebrate, but before we put a piece of duct tape over the name Jordan and write Williams on the backs of our old #23 Wizards jerseys or start eating regularly at Zaytinya's with the hopes of running into Enes Kanter, we need to accept the reality that the Wizards are stuck with the 6th pick and whomever the team chooses there's going to be a lot more people banging the table in frustration, than those cheering "that's my GUY!"
My point of all of this is that when we're breaking down the talent and ranking the players, the one player that may have the best NBA career in the class is the one receiving the littlest of attention from the fans. Who have we talked about or connected the team to be interested in? Prospects like Kawhi Leonard, Jan Vesely, Jonas Valanciunas, Chris Singleton, and Bismack Biyombo. All seemingly solid players, all seemingly with high ceilings, all seemingly that make "roster sense", but perhaps what we've been doing is trying to fit a square peg into a round hole?
Sure Vesely could be a great fit playing playing the role of French Fries to the McWall combo (McGee+Wall=McWall, Vesely is tall and thin=fries....I digress), but when I hear “He’s a bad shooter and has to improve in that area, but he has all the time in the world to do that,” said Nikola Loncar, a former world champion with Yugoslavia that’s now doing work as an NBA analyst for Spanish TV. “He’s a great leaper, but doesn’t take physical contact well. He needs to put on more muscle. His body type is a lot like Toni Kukoc’s right now. It’s good that he can run and jump so well, but he needs to be able to deal with physical play better.”
No thanks, to much hope and potential, not enough proven for me.
Maybe Kawhi Leonard will develop an outside game to add to the hustle and defense that he brings already, but if you would have told me in February that Kawhi Leonard was going to be the 6th pick in the NBA draft, I would have laughed in your face without hesitation.
The 6th pick is just simply to high of a pick to use on a limited talent like Leonard.
Chris Singleton falls in the same boat as Leonard does. He might be a very good player, but he's not going to be the type of player that will take the Wizards over the hump and gel with Wall to become his Robin (or Pippen as he's mentioned). I'll take Leonard or Singleton at 9 or 10 all day long in this draft, but the Wizards would be reaching with false hope that a college role player will become an NBA star.
Jonas Valanciunas looks like he can provide a solid defensive presence and rebounding to a team in the key, but I'm not sure that his bare bones athleticism and severe lack of an offensive game outside of the paint would be worth the risk at this stage in the rebuild. Add in that JV won't even be here for 2-3 years and drafting Valanciunas becomes as useless as was their 5th pick in 2008.
That leaves us with Bismack Biyombo and I'm sure at this point you all are expecting for me to go on and on as to why BB is the guy to draft for the Wizards, but I'm not. I do in fact really like the potential in Biyombo and if there were ever a draft to say "F-it" and swing for the upper deck, this year may be that draft. However as much as I like that Biyombo excels at what both McGee and Blatche do poorly, the positives/negatives are just to drastic to convince me that Biyombo would be the "smartest" choice for the franchise.
So where does that leave them?
It leaves them without competition to draft the best player available and do so without regret or hesitation. Are you surprised that Colorado's Alec Burks is amongst the first group of players that the Wizards have brought in for workouts? It shouldn't, EG and the rest of the Wizards brass know that adding the best talent possible with their picks is the most important priority during the infancy of the rebuilding process Sure the Wizards rebuild got an instant boost with Wall and they have gained some other nice pieces around him, but nothing would be worth passing on taking the best player available with their pick this year considering how far away they are from being taken seriously.
Burks is the real deal, he's not a perfect prospect, but he's got a great game, and a style that absolutely works in the NBA. He was known in college as more of a Tyreke Evans type of lead guard and tended to do his best work when slashing to the basket, yet struggled with his jumper, but his struggles shooting the ball were noticeably enhanced by his tendency to be shooting the ball without being set and positioned properly to make the basket. This has been Burks top priority in Vegas at Attack and the reports coming back have all been singing the praises of how much better that aspect of Burks' game has become since the end of the college season.
In Burks I see a prospect that improved his overall game from his freshman season to his sophomore one: Freshman Year: 17.1 ppg, 5 rpg, and 1.8 apg Sophomore Year: 20.5 ppg, 6.5 rpg, and 2.9 apg----he hits the glass and he was the primary ball handler
I see a kid that's still growing into his current 6'6" frame and perhaps may still be growing since he's only 19 years old. I see a kid with a wingspan of 6'10" and the standing reach equal to that of Tobias Harris and Chris Singleton. I see a prospect that can combine his athleticism, length, and excellent quickness to fill in nicely at either the SF or SG position on this Wizards roster with John Wall and most importantly, he's easily the best player available on the board once Williams and Kanter are gone (excluding the PG's).
My choice for how to use the 6th pick is simple, take Alec Burks and feel very confident that a young trio of John Wall, Jordan Crawford, and Alec Burks is the foundation of exciting times in Washington basketball.