LAWRENCE KS - JANUARY 29: Thomas Robinson #0 of the Kansas Jayhawks pauses for a moment prior to shooting a free throw during the game against the Kansas State Wildcats on January 29 2011 at Allen Fieldhouse in Lawrence Kansas. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
It's early, but as Chad Ford of ESPN notes, the Wizards appear to be deciding between Bradley Beal and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist at No. 3. Saying "a lot can change between now and June 30" is like saying that there will be a day when the sun rises in the morning.
Still, it does puzzle me just a little bit that Thomas Robinson isn't getting more consideration.
Robinson isn't the perfect fit with this roster, mind you, and I'm not saying DRAFT HIM! DRAFT HIM! But there's been way too much dismissing of what he'd bring to this roster simply because of the incredibly dire situation on the wings. The Wizards have a lot of holes on their roster, and while perimeter shooting and scoring is a huge one, I'm also concerned that the supposed endless parade of young big men on this roster is a) not really endless, and b) deficient in one very important category that Robinson owns.The Wizards are technically two-deep at both big men positions, but that's only assuming everything breaks perfectly. At power forward, Trevor Booker proved capable, if a bit undersized, while Jan Vesely struggled for a majority of the year before playing better at the end. At center, Nene is in the twilight of his prime and had injury issues that may be prolonged with his time playing for the national team, and while Kevin Seraphin showed a lot at the end of the season, he still has to do that over a longer period of time.
Everything could break perfectly, but it usually doesn't. That's why lots of good teams stock up on bigs that each provide something different. Bigs are tradeable, more so than any other position. In an ideal world, every team would have a perfectly-balanced roster, but that doesn't happen because that would mean teams are often reaching for less imposing talent to fill positions.
Worse, while the Wizards' frontcourt is deep, it's not very good at one very critical skill: rebounding. On the season, the Wizards were 26th in the league in defensive rebound percentage. Things improved once JaVale McGee, one of the primary culprits, was traded, but the Wizards still weren't better than average post-trade.
Take a look at this list of the top players in total rebounding percentage last year. Scan it to find the first Wizards player. It'll take a while. In fact, you have to go all the way down to No. 55 (Nene) to find someone. Twenty-seven of the NBA's 29 other teams have at least one guy higher than Nene (Golden State and Charlotte are the only ones who don't). Eighteen have at least two, six have at least three and two (Denver and Utah) have four. In total, only five Wizards players crack the top 100, and one of them is Andray Blatche. Rebounding's hardly the only hole on this roster, but it is a pretty big one.
It's also worth considering the kind of team the Wizards seem to be building. The Nene trade signaled a major identity shift from long athletes to tough, physical bigs. That's fine, and teams have won that way even in today's NBA, but they also were great rebounding teams. As currently constructed, the Wizards are very, very far away from being a great rebounding team.
Now, consider Robinson for a second. If there's one thing we know he will do at the next level, it's rebound. The Kansas forward led the entire country in defensive rebounding percentage last year, snaring over 30 percent of his team's boards when he was on the court. This is despite (or maybe because, depends on how you look at it) playing a lot of minutes with a big, physical center in Jeff Withey alongside him. Overall, Robinson was fifth in the nation in total rebounding percentage, and only one man ahead of him (Colorado's Andre Roberson) played in a power conference. Robinson's rebounding numbers aren't as absurd as Kevin Love's coming out of school, but they're not too far off. No stat translates better than rebounding, so you'd have to paint a pretty elaborate case to suggest that Robinson won't be able to rebound at the next level.
This isn't to say the Wizards must take Robinson. Given the roster imbalance, I can see why they wouldn't. But in our quest to fill out a roster for next year rather than for the next 10 years, we've started to view Robinson in terms of what he can't do rather than what he can do, which is very different from any of the wing prospects. No matter what position he may play, there's at least one incredibly important skill Robinson provides that the Wizards have in short supply.
Just keep that in mind when trying to decide between a bunch of promising, but imperfect prospects.