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The Oklahoma City Thunder take the Wizards to school

First, let me say that any draft where the Wizards come away with John Wall, and they don't sell any picks, deserves an "A" in my book. So I can't get too down on them for the trades and picks they made.

I was really looking forward to Draft night; knowing that the Wizards had John Wall locked up and two pretty good draft choices in a deep draft; but also plenty of cap room and an Owner willing to make moves to get more picks, or move up in the draft.

The Wizards took John Wall with the first pick in the 2010 NBA Draft. The smart pick. Really, the only pick to make. Everyone has known that Wall was the pick since the Wizards won the Lottery. He gives the Wizards a real Franchise player to build around. Draft Grade = A right there. Done deal. Nothing else that happens later could bring that grade down.

So how did we do with the rest of the picks? Did the Wizards use the BOYD strategy? Did they pull the trigger on trades and moves? Were they active?

The Thunder, showing what BOYD trades can do,  took on Daequan Cook's salary for one year and got 18th pick from Miami for the 32nd pick. So, they effectively swapped a high Second round pick for a pick in the teens for $2.1 Million. The Wizards could have easily made that same trade, or even trumped that trade by taking on Michael Beasley ($4.9 Million) and the #18 pick for the #35. Miami would have done that trade in a heartbeat. I'm not sure if the Wizards made the attempt, but we know that the Thunder did...

Then the Thunder took on Mo Pete's $6.4 Million and gave New Orleans the 21st and 26th picks, and got the 11th pick , and selected Cole Aldrich. They effectively used the BOYD strategy, taking on about $6 Million (Mo Pete's salary). Peterson's contracts expires after this year.This trade gets the Hornets slightly under the tax line, but they still have to fill out their roster, and will most likely still be paying the tax, unless they make more moves.

The Wizards could have easily offered a better trade to New Orleans.... I proposed a trade several days ago essentially giving the Hornets even more cap space by taking on both Mo Pete ($6.2 Mil) and Songaila ($4.8 Mil) and the 11th pick for a future protected second rounder. At #11, the Wizards could have had their pick of Cole Aldrich, Xavier Henry, Ed Davis or Patrick Patterson. We cannot be sure if the Wizards made any overtures, but we know that the Thunder did.

I really thought the New Orleans BOYD trade was a no-brainer. One that even the Wizards could see was worth taking on $10 Million in GOOD players on one-year contracts to get the 11th pick in the draft. Take advantage of the Hornets cap misfortunes to make the team better. Oh well....... OKC thought it was a good idea.

Dallas bought the 25th pick from Memphis. Why didn't the Wizards take the $3 Million cash they got from Chicago and use it to purchase that pick. They could have drafted Booker with that pick and kept their 30th and 35th picks. We don't know if Washington made the offer, but we certainly know that Dallas did.

If the Wizards were a little more aggressive than the Thunder and the Mavs, they could have had the 11th pick, AND the 18th pick AND the 25th pick for about $16 Million in cap space, while keeping their 30th pick. Without taking on any contracts past this year, they could have filled out the roster with some veteran back-ups - a veteran PF, good defender and good shooter (Songaila), a big decent defending SG (Peterson) and Beasley.

Instead, what did the Wizards do in this draft to surround John Wall with young talent?

They traded for Kirk Hinrich and his $17 Million salary due over the next two years, and the 17th pick in the draft, plus $3 Million in cash for a future second round pick. Gotta get that cash, right?. Now, I like Kirk Hinrich - but not at that price. Then they selected Kevin Seraphin. Picking Seraphin 17th may have been a bit of a stretch. DraftExpress had him going #22, as did ESPN had him at #23. Was he the best player available? I'm not so sure about that. James Anderson went  20th, and may have been a better choice - but we'll save that debate for later. Seraphin may or may not have been available later - but Ernie apparently had to have him - and paid a big price to get him.

At the time of the Seraphin pick, I was still hoping the Wizards could get Pondexter, a good shooting wing that plays defense, at pick #30 - so taking a chance on a young, not ready for the NBA International big man might be an OK move. Stash him overseas and use 30 to get a defensive wing and 35 to draft a wide-body defensive big man to back up McGee. (Parakhouski, Pittman, Gallon, etc...). But that's not what happened.

Instead, the Wizards traded #30 and #35 to Minnesota for picks #23 and #56. Then, with the 23rd pick, they chose Trevor Booker. I really do NOT understand this trade. Booker is a second round talent. Tremendous athlete, but raw offensively.  This is a player that they probably could have had at #30 anyway (or even possibly at #35). Most mock drafts had Booker going in the early-mid Second round. DraftExpress had him at #34. had him at #45. ESPN had Booker at #38. Ridiculous Upside had him at #47. I didn't even profile him, thinking he would be a mid-Second round pick. Not worth profiling because he would be available far after the Wizard's last pick at #35. So Booker may have still been available at 30 or 35 - but at worst, they could have taken a chance on Hassan Whiteside or Solomon Alabi; two bona-fide first round talents that fell in the draft. Why did Ernie give up TWO picks and  reach for a second round talent at pick #23?

What did we get for our 23rd pick? Trevor Booker is a 6'7.5" , 236 pound undersized Power Forward. He is a tough, physical player with excellent strength and leaping ability. He's an excellent athlete and wowed everyone at the Combine with a 36" max vertical, excellent lane agility (11.15) and tremendous strength with 22 reps on the bench press. The most impressive thing? He was the fastest player timed in the 3/4 court sprint at 3:10 - even faster than John Wall (3:14). He will give the Wizards some toughness inside.

But at Clemson, most of his half court offense came from the low post. It's doubtful that his low post game, at 6'7" will translate well to the NBA. He used his length and athleticism to score inside. Against bigger and more athletic players, I doubt he'll be able to translate his post game to the NBA.  As for defense, Booker is an excellent rebounder; using his length and athleticism well, especially on the Offensive boards. He works hard and has good defensive fundamentals, but even his athleticism won't be able to overcome his height limitations at the NBA level. He's pretty good guarding the perimeter because he's active and mobile, but quicker players still get around him pretty regularly.

Let's face it - he's a shorter, less-quick Dominic McGuire with a slightly better jump shot playing PF. Definitely worth a look in the second round., but........

If I close my eyes, I could swear that Abe Polin was still in the Draft room and the Wizards still had Jamison, Butler and Haywood on the Roster; and Grunfeld was drafting as if the Wizards were a playoff team and just need a young guy for the end of the bench - and an International player to stash... ( Abe to Ernie: : "pssst....Ernie, pocket that cash...don't use it to buy a pick" ).

After the 1st pick, that's how the draft felt to me. Like it was two years ago. Oh yeah - I almost forgot our 56th pick. Hamady N'Diaye. Think Manute Bol, except lacking the extra 8 inches, and lacking Manute's polished (compared to N'Diaye) offensive game.


So instead of ending up with:

John Wall (#1), Xavier Henry (#11), Quincy Pondexter (#18), Kevin Seraphin (#25) and Trevor Booker (#30) ; with veterans Mo Pete, Darius Songaila and Michael Beasley and about $4 Million in Cap space (with LOADS of cap space next year)...

The Wizards actually got:

  • John Wall - undeniable slam dunk pick.
  • Kevin Seraphin - who probably be stashed in Europe
  • Trevor Booker - Athletic, undersized PF that brings toughness and rebounding
  • Hamady N'Diaye - Shot blocking big man with no offense.
  • Plus they get Kirk Hinrich, and are left with about $10 Million in cap space.

Doesn't it look like we're trying to get back to the playoffs? This isn't a rebuild - it's a reboot. Wall, Arenas, Hinrich, Blatche and potentially Childress certainly sounds like a 8th seed Eastern Conference playoff team to me. And now we're right back to where we were before. Low seed playoff team, getting bounced in the first round, with limited Cap flexibility, and mid-First round draft choices every year. Sound familiar?

I don't want to sound like I don't like the players the Wizards got. I do. Certainly Booker will bring some toughness and an inside presence. N'Diaye was defensive player of the year in the Big East, and is at least a practice partner for McGee. Seraphin may develop into a player some day... and I even like Hinrich. Love his defense. Like the fact that he can shoot the 3. Like his grit. I just don't like what it cost; and the moves don't seem to fit in with a true "rebuilding" plan.

Perhaps we should wait to grade this draft until after July 8th; when all the actual transactions are completed. Maybe there's something we don't know, or a piece of a trade we didn't hear about; or more things happening.

But still, I just can't help but feel we got our butts kicked by Oklahoma City on Draft night.