The Wizards fan base seemed to be broken into two major camps over the last year and as the draft approaches this week, I think it's a good time to once again dive into a topic of great differing of opinion amongst us and tackle the subject once again (and perhaps once and for all).
On one side we have those that agreed with or at least went willing along with Ted Leonsis' "Playoffs or Bust" mantra for the 2013-14 season, while on the other end of the spectrum you had a group that was willing to wait one more season, especially if there was a potential pot of gold at the end of the season waiting for them in the draft, with the gold being somebody like Andrew Wiggins or Jabari Parker.
Most fans in the "win now" camp were on board with drafting Otto Porter, as he was dubbed as the most ready to contribute after two seasons at local G'town. While those in the "we can wait one more year" party wanted the raw Nerlens Noel and were even willing to accept a "redshirt" season from him if that's what he needed to rehab his knee.
Once the devastating news broke that Emeka Okafor was going to miss a significant part, if not all of the season (which he did), those on the two sides once again butted heads on the direction the franchise should take. The win now/Otto Porter group was backed into a tough corner without their defensive anchor, while the 2014 draft/Nerlens Noel side viewed this injury as a possible blessing in disguise.
Obviously the team made a major move to acquire Marcin Gortat from the Suns in exchange for the Wizards 1st rd pick, a move that solidified their middle, and was a major reason why the Wizards won 46 games, a first round playoff series, and made this season the most watchable in years.
Ownership wanted to win now and that's what they did, but the question now becomes....at what cost?
Noel did just about as much in his rookie season as Porter and Noel missed the entire campaign. The #3 pick in the draft made ZERO impact and while that's not completely on him, due to the incredible year by Trevor Ariza. However the unfortunate situation now facing Washington is Porter doesn't seem ready to play significant, let alone starting NBA minutes, coupled with Ariza hitting free agency after a great showcase season in DC. Add this to the fact that the player they traded their much coveted 2014 draft pick for only had one year left on his contract too and now like Ariza, Gortat hits the NBA open market after a very, very good season.
Retaining Marcin Gortat appears to be offseason priority #1, but these new rumors that Gortat is looking at getting $12-$14 mil per season makes even that plan significantly more complicated and unsure.
The question and idea for this long winded post is what situation would the Wizards be better in one year after the 2013 draft?
Are the Wizards better today in reality, having made the 2nd rd of the playoffs, having had solid vets to help cultivate the young guys, and now having to figure out how they take the next step or at worst stay somewhat status quo? After all if they were to duplicate the success of this past season again next season, most aren't going to complain. But how much is too much for Gortat and/or Ariza? Can they really afford to go after another "max type" of player in FA? And finally how much of their success was based on winning while many other organizations in their conference were looking ahead?
The Wizards in their current situation have a core of Wall, Beal, and Nene. They're hoping to get production from Porter in his second season, but must spend 10 figures to find a center to anchor their defense (consecutive top 10 team defense in the league). They have pieces, but they also enter the offseason with two holes in their starting 5.
Switching to the other side of the argument, had the Wizards taken Noel and had they simply played the bad hand they were dealt after the Okafor injury, the Wizards would most likely be entering Thursday's draft with a top 8 pick. The OkAriza would be coming off the books this summer, along with the plethora of draft letdowns (Jan, Book, Kev, & Sing), giving the Wizards around $10 mil more in cap space then they currently have.
In this scenario you're still talking about the same core as above with Wall, Beal, and Nene, but here you'd have two high draft picks starting their rookie seasons (Nerlens and a top 8 draft pick), and an extra $10 mil in cap space. While this hypothetical team in this scenario hasn't proved anything, the future certainly would look bright if you're talking about something like Wall, Beal, Nene, Noel, say Julius Randle with the top 8 pick, and max money or close to max money to spend on a SF, which could include options like Gordon Hayward, Chandler Parsons, or swinging for the fences on Carmelo Anthony.
There's an argument for both sides and the "Bird in the hand beats two in the bush" phrase definitely steers towards the current philosophy of the team. However on the other hand, you couldn't help but be excited about the potential of having waited one more season before pushing your chips into the middle of the table.
A year later, the debate continues...