Drafting Thomas Robinson at 3: Following teams that have success in the playoffs
I think one of the main areas to focus on going in to this draft is that we ensure our team is capable of having success in the playoffs. I think you look at teams that struggle in the low post, defensively and rebounding and you don't see a lot of legitimate championship contenders. Our team finished 28th in defensive rebounding last season, we didn't have any player in the top 50 in any statistical rebounding category (someone else posted about this). If you look at Nene's numbers, (also his durability issues we probably won't be getting 82 games out of him a year), is the fact that he has never averaged a double double. So this is a guy who is a niece piece down low, I like what he brings with his basketball IQ but he should by no means be considered the final answer in the post. Teams like the Lakers, Jazz, Denver, Phoenix in the past and other playoff contenders have loaded up on players at PF and C because they realize the necessity of acquiring elite talent down low. I think it's also important to look at the Dallas Mavericks experience. They spent close to a decade tinkering with the SG and SF positions and were an annual disappointment in the playoffs. In one off-season they add Tyson Chandler and Brendan Haywood who help with their rebounding and defense in the post and they win a championship. I realize that Thomas Robinson is not a 7 footer, but he is an important step towards the Wizards becoming a legitimate playoff team through excellent fundamental basketball, dominant facilitator at PG and a dominant rebounder at PF.
NBA Player Comparison Thomas Robinson: Kenyon Martin
Thomas Robinson, I think the best comparison for him is beastmode. Looking at a Kenyon Martin if he had figured it out in the NBA, Martin is a PF who played the game with ferocity, just he channeled it into highlight reel dunks. I think Robinson channel's his enormous passion into rebounding, which is a more useful NBA skill and you look at a recent success story in Kevin Love, it translates into the NBA even if you are undersized. Gauging Robinson's height, his height was literally in between the two Morris twins when they were standing around who measured at 6'7 and 6'8 without shoes on, so I think he is going to measure out at 6'7.50 which is more of an oversized 3, but would be almost identical to Kevin Love and he has far greater leaping and athletic capability. Kevin Love averaged 10.6 rebounds a night his one year at UCLA, Thomas Robinson averaged 11.9 rebounds a night his one year starting.
Thomas Robinson Position: Athletic Oversized 3 and an Overactive Rebounder
Robinson also has aspects of his games that are similar to a 3, he actually is a good ball handler and is capable of driving into the lane off his own dribble. A few times I've seen him drive the lane and make a tough pass to a guy standing under neath the hoop, so he actually has some good facilitating aspects to his game. But I think most importantly is his track record, I think he has displayed an indelible work ethic, passionate attitude, and he hustles every second he is on the floor which are issues that always have to be addressed when Grunfeld is putting together your roster. 18 points and 17 rebounds in the National Championship against Anthony Davis, so I think that shows that he can be effective against NBA length. On a per minute basis he was the leading rebounder in the NCAA, finished 2nd in the nation in rebounding playing against elite competition. If you watched Kansas they were a pretty mediocre team, I think he carried them through that tournament. He was Kansas's go-to scorer so I think he already does a lot offensively. I think he's the answer with the 3rd pick. He's also a DC native so I would like to see him come play at home. I'm psyched about him and I think he'll barrel people out of the low post for a decade if he ends up here.
Addressing John asking directly for a 2 or 3 with our lottery pick:
I think the best way to respond to this is to recognize that we have to put pieces around John that facilitate his development, compliment his play style, and don't hinder his progress as he hopes to become the top PG in the NBA. I think the obvious solution is to stick someone whose not ball dominant at the 2 in place of Jordan Crawford. However, the best way to keep John happy is to put a legitimate playoff team around him. I think you have to address the things he wants the team to do, but your GM should be more capable of making personnel and draft decisions than your players. I think in Cleveland they let Lebron influence personnel decisions and it became clear over time that they were put into a weak situation because the roster created to appease Lebron wasn't capable of winning a championship. So I think it might anger him if we don't draft a 2 or a 3, but in one season I think we'll be closer to keeping him here long term than if we fail to address chronic rebounding issues. John is looking at the team from his own perspective, and it was apparent to me last year that sticking a bottom of the league ball dominant 2 guard next to him was hindering his production so I'm glad that he highlighted where we should improve the team before it festers into him wanting out of DC. However we need to be cognizant that every team is looking to find the most dominant post players, it's not a position you can easily find elite talent at, and when you are drafting in the lottery for the last time and don't have any front court players on your roster capable of making an all star you need to upgrade.
With the 32 pick in the Draft: Questions regarding our poor perimeter shooting and the SG position, Doron Lamb is a baller from 3 point land
I also think we could probably adress the SG position similar to how the Spurs do. Which is looking for guys in the second round, or guys who don't command serious contracts through free agency, but are valuable for their skillset. I think you could move up into the 20s in the draft pretty easily because a lot of the playoff teams are more than willing to opt out of guaranteed money for a rookie who may never crack their rotation. Package our 2 second rounders and move up for a guy like Doron Lamb. Doron Lamb was not ball-dominant and also had good passing instincts, he was like the 4th scoring option on the Kentucky roster last season but produced consistently and came up big in the championship. He was the best perimeter shooter on the best team in the NCAA last season, and he was the best shooter statistically in the NCAA last season. He shot around 48% from 3 which is phenomenal, his game is effective within the flow of the offense which I think is the key for finding a compliment to John Wall. He helped out at the PG position a little bit while Marquis Teague was struggling and proved capable of distributing the ball around the floor. I don't think it's as imperative that we adress the SG issue with a lottery pick because I think help at the position is much more abundant, I think it is honestly pretty easy to find a guy who is an upgrade over Jordan Crawford. I think we have to find a guy for John that is not ball-dominant, and can be a knock down shooter behind the arc when John kicks it out. I think Doron Lamb is a great option, also if we stay in the 2nd round John Jenkins is an option that led the SEC in PPG mostly off efficient perimeter shooting, also a guy like Kim English could be there with the 46 pick who is an unselfish teammate and a high percentage perimeter shooter.
Nene, Kevin Seraphin, Trevor Booker: This shouldn't make you feel that comfortable
If we address the SG position in the lottery, a year later we find out that rebounding is liability we won't have a legitimate option to find someone down low. Next year if we need help at shooting guard we can likely find someone capable of contributing either through free agency or later in the draft. I think rebounding is already a blatant issue, this is similar to when we went into the year with Andray Blatche starting at PF, in the back of my mind I was mystified that a guy with zero effort in the low post whose game plays like a stretch 4 was actually going to start next to Jevale, who liked to hover around the top of the key on offense because his frame kept him from capably maintaining position in the low post.
Once again I am mystified that we are going to go into a season with 2 European bigs Nene and Seraphin who don't fundamentally understand getting position without the ball by boxing someone out first, including the fact that neither has a great awareness of rebounding in general. Combined with Trevor Booker, who some thought vastly improved the offense, I simply saw the team looked better because Blatche wasn't on the court out of position as a high usage stretch 4 which created terrible floor spacing and closed up lanes for John Wall. When Trevor Booker was in the game I noticed that he was too undersized too be effective down low and spent most of the game roaming for the ball at the top of the key or along the baseline. But he was not getting position in the low post, and when you don't have at least one player on the court whose game is predominantly played getting position in the low post you end up with terrible floor spacing. Which is not conducive to keeping John happy, because it makes it harder for him to facilitate the offense and find open looks, and it makes help defense on a PG far easier, and it makes your offense stall out especially when you don't have a litany of perimeter shooters such as the Spurs. I think pretty quickly it is going to become apparent that this team will be out rebounded nightly if we plan to tout out a front court of Nene, Kevin Seraphin and Trevor Booker. I think Thomas Robinson answers our biggest need, we don't have a single all star caliber low post player. Nene has never made an all star or averaged a double double, I think we need to invest in the post now because next year we won't be in the lottery and any legitimate post prospect won't make it out of the top 10.
Last year we drafted 2 Small Forwards: Chris Singleton and Jan Vesely
On a final note, Jan Vesely is a small forward, not a power forward. He has absolutely no low post skill set, he has never scored a point by starting a move with his back to the basket, he doesn't box out for rebounds out of the low post, he doesn't have a hook shot, or any move that is common of a post player. He doesn't adequately guard other team's power forwards. He played Power Forward last season because we have no depth there, when Trevor Booker got injured late last season we didn't have another Power Forward on the roster, and he needs minutes to develop so he got played out of position. Seeing as Vesely also doesn't have the skill set often seen of a SF, perimeter shooting capability, dribbling capability, good court vision, also means he isn't truly a small forward either so he doesn't have a defined NBA position. The fact with Vesely is Ernie burnt our 6 pick on a unique prospect, a big European athlete whose talent lies in dunking and energy not fundamental basketball, if that doesn't show Ernie has a whollistic lack of understanding of basketball its hard to imagine what will, beyond actually giving Andray Blatche $30 million dollars, but nonetheless he was retained. Vesely is a fine rotational piece that can make contributions with his phenomenal height and energy, tips, put back dunks, alley oops etc. but has such a minimal skill set it's hard to see him being anything more than that.
I think Thomas Robinson is a beast and hope the native returns home.